The Critical Components of an Electric Thermal Fluid Heating System

Thermal fluid heating systems are used to supply heat energy to industrial plant equipment. They do this by using a liquid phase heat transfer mechanism—essentially, they heat a thermal fluid (glycol, water, thermal oil) which circulates through the heater coils of other equipment, thereby transferring heat energy. The heated fluid is then returned to the heating system to be reheated and reused. This is known as a closed loop system.

These heaters are vital in a number of industries, including:

  • Food processing
  • Rubbers and plastics processing
  • Paper manufacturing
  • Natural gas processing
  • Petrochemical
  • Automobile manufacturing

Proper industrial heating system design is crucial to guaranteeing durability and reliability. As such, several key parts and components must be given equal amounts of individual attention as they are often required to work in unison.

The Primary Components


In industrial fluid heating systems, the heater refers to the vessel that facilitates the transfer of heat to the thermal fluid. The heater may also be termed as a heat exchanger.

Primary Pump

The primary pump is responsible for maintaining a constant flow of thermal fluid in the heater system. By extension, the pump may also be used to supply heated fluid to other process equipment.

Expansion Tank

The primary purpose of the expansion tank is to contain the thermal fluid. The tank is usually placed at a higher elevation than the rest of the equipment to provide a static head to the primary pump. Expansion tanks must be appropriately sized to accommodate the increased volume of the heated fluid.


On the return line back to the expansion tank, a degasser is used to separate dissolved gases from the thermal fluid. This gas is returned to the expansion tank where the heated oil expands.


The strainer acts as a filter to remove any solids or impurities in the thermal fluid, thereby protecting equipment and maintaining consistent fluid flows in the system.

Safety Controls

Safety controls are used to help achieve compliance with safety regulations, as well as preserve thermal heating equipment. These controls help modulate heat outputs, isolation valves, and vents in the event of an emergency.

Isolation Valves

Isolation valves are an essential component of the thermal heater’s safety system. These valves are used to immediately stop the flow of fluid at a specific location, therefore isolating the fluid from a portion of the heating system.

SCR & Power Controls

Silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) and power controls allow for greater control over the heating process. Its main purpose is to provide rapid and variable proportional control of electrical power in the heating system.

Secondary/Optional Components

Thermal Fluid Systems, Inc. specializes in custom industrial heating system designs. We understand that each situation is unique and, therefore, offer a wide range of additional components to meet the demands of various applications. Some optional components include:

  • Temperature control valves
  • Drainage tanks
  • Flue gas recovery
  • Explosion proofing
  • Secondary loops 

Types of Thermal Fluids

As opposed to many of our competitors, Thermal Fluid Systems, Inc. uses more than just thermal oil in our heating systems. Our selection of thermal fluids ensures that the right heating requirements are met for a variety of situations. Some of the thermal fluids we regularly use include, but are not limited to:

  • Calflo
  • Glycol
  • Essotherm
  • Texatherm
  • Therminol
  • Marlotherm
  • Multitherm
  • Syltherm
  • Water

We are also capable of custom designing our systems to accommodate other thermal fluids should they be required for a specific project.

Thermal heating fluid systems consist of several parts and components, each serving an equally important purpose. Careful design consideration must therefore be given to each element to ensure a safe and efficient heating process.

At Thermal Fluid Systems, Inc., our engineers and technical staff can custom design thermal heaters for all your design and supply needs. We also stock a broad range of replacement parts and offer on-site troubleshooting, maintenance, and repairs for numerous other heater brands.

If you would like to know more about our thermal heating solutions, feel free to contact our support team or request a quote.

Primary Components of an Electric Thermal Fluid Heating System