Thermal fluid systems are heating systems in which the thermal fluid, such as glycol or thermal oil, is heated and then recirculated supplying indirect heat to process equipment, materials, and systems. Because they supply indirect heat, thermal fluid systems minimize the risk of burns or heat damage to equipment. This process is also controllable, allowing for accurate temperature moderation.
Other benefits of thermal fluid systems include:
- Low pressure: These systems can produce high levels of heat while remaining at low pressures, unlike steam-based boiler systems.
- Variability: Thermal fluid systems can be either vapor phase or liquid phase. Facilities also can choose between waste fuel-fired, oil, or gas thermal fluid systems.
Major Components of Thermal Fluid Heating Systems
While every thermal fluid system can be customized to meet the needs of its facility, they all share the same core components and processes. Four major components in them are:
The pumps control how the fluid moves throughout the thermal fluid heating system. This includes the velocity, the way in which it moves away from the burners, and the overall pressure of the system. While thermal fluid systems are generally low-pressure, a large system can introduce marginal levels of increased pumping pressure.
When you’re considering which pump to use in your next thermal fluid heating system, keep these considerations in mind:
- Thermal fluid system pumps need to be built for this specific application. They can’t be substituted with boiler feed pumps or standard hot water pumps.
- Your builder or service provider should choose the correct pump size based on the gravity of the thermal fluid at operational temperatures and the system’s potential pressure loss.
- Different applications require different pumps. However, the top choices are generally API pumps, air-cooled mechanical seal pumps, water-cooled pumps, or magnetically coupled pumps.
- Different pumps should also be constructed from different materials. For example, centrifugal pumps should be made with cast iron or ductile iron wetted parts. Positive displacement pumps should instead be made from alloy steel. However, all pumps should have mechanical seals.
Valves need to be sturdy and leak-resistant so they can control the flow of thermal fluid. Just like with pumps, valves work best when they have a bellow-type seal so they can fully close against a variety of surface textures and withstand minor wear over time.
It’s also best for isolation valves to be either globe valves or valves with ball-type controls. All valves should be cast or forged carbon steel; they can perform well with either a socket or a butt weld design.
Burners heat up thermal fluid before it is pumped through the system. Different fluids and system sizes demand different heat loads and combustion chamber sizes. That, in turn, requires a burner to keep up with size and power demands. Your thermal fluid system builder can determine the right burner based on the application, size, and other factors.
4. Control Panels
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) packages, which we offer at Thermal Fluid Systems, provide better control over the system. They can be integrated with your facility’s existing Distributed Control System (DCS) for easier monitoring and a higher degree of safety. When integrated with the heaters, the control panels offer continuous flow monitoring through an orifice plate and differential pressure switches. Operators also can monitor the burner with the included UV scanner and monitor for pressure overages with pressure alarms, block and integrated alerts. The control panels also can include:
- Redundant fluid outlet temperature alarms
- High stack temperature alarms
- High expansion tank level alarms
- Automatic interlocks
Thermal Fluid Systems Design
Thermal Fluid Systems Design specializes in creating high-quality, responsive thermal fluid heating systems, be it gas, oil, or waste fuel-fired. We also offer electrical systems. Our fuel-based systems can use the following fuel types:
- Bunker C
- Fuel oils 2, 4, or 6
- Natural gas
- Waste gas product
Each system outputs 0.5 to 50,000,000+ BTUs per hour and operates at an efficiency of up to 90%+ (LVH).
Customers can choose between horizontal and vertical configurations, as well as many options such as drain tank and secondary heating controls. Each of our thermal fluid systems can handle indoor or outdoor applications and have specially designed pumps, valves, burners, and control panels based on the intended application.
At Thermal Fluid Systems, we also offer services to help keep your new installation running smoothly. These include operator training, inspections, replacement parts, and maintenance. Our units and parts meet the following standards: ASME, API, USCG, ABS, and NEMA 1, 3R, 4, 4X, 7, and 12, NFPA, CSA.
Learn More About Thermal Fluid Systems
At Thermal Fluid Systems, we create high-quality thermal fluid heating systems built to fulfill each customer’s needs. If you need a custom-designed thermal fluid system, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities or request a quote to get started.