In a time where energy conservation has become paramount, the imminent winter months bring its own set of efficiency challenges. South African organisations face escalating energy usage and expenditure - during colder months - all in an effort to run operations within prescribed temperature perimeters.
Fortunately, technology innovation has led to some effective solutions that enable manufacturers to keep products at an optimal temperature, lowering viscosity and ensuring that it is easier to transport around the plant during the colder months.
One such solution is electrical heat tracing (EHT) which can assist plant and process managers to alleviate stubborn viscosity sensitive products and processes.
EHT lowers the viscosity of many processes as it acts as a compensating heat source to maintain or raise the heat in pipes, tanks, surfaces and other vessels. It effectively replaces the heat loss in the process and can therefore be used to prevent product from gelling or freezing, whilst maintaining the low viscosity of the process on plant equipment.
Ultimately, EHT helps ensure that pumps don’t malfunction due to cavitation and pipes don’t get blocked, mitigating costly repairs, maintenance and potential down time.
Heat tracing can also provide significant cost reductions and energy conservation as it regulates temperature ensuring that during uncharacteristically cold days, other costly sources such as flange or gas heater don’t have to be used to compensate for unplanned heat loss.
Self-regulating EHT comes into play here as it provides a controlled wattage, effectively maintaining a fixed target temperature without external control. This in turn drives down time spent to maintain temperature as well as continuously adjusting the temperature or worse be caught unawares as it becomes colder.
Self-regulating EHT therefore reduces power output as temperature increases and conversely increases it systematically as the temperature lowers which in turn leads to improved energy efficiency.
Winter not only impacts industry, colder days and the resultant higher viscosity can also impact domestic water supply as well as reliable drainage of rain and waste water, leading to freeze damage and ultimately frozen and burst pipes.
To prevent freeze damage, EHT can be installed on these pipes, preventing them from freezing. Again, a customised, self-regulating heat tracing solution is developed, installed and monitored to ensure pipes are warm enough throughout the winter months
EHT can maintain and lower the viscosity of liquids in many industries and applications such as:
- Resins, epoxies and adhesives;
- Petrochemical industry;
- Food & Bev such as glucose, chocolates, fats, vegetable and palm oils and other syrups;
- Automotive manufacturing processes such as glues and oils; and
- Brewing – maltose and dextrose.
By Dirk Venter from eltherm South African, a heat tracing specialist