We have a batch process that requires heating to 1,040°F (560°C). We'd like to make it a continuous process using an 8" dia. pipe reactor. What options are available for heating this? - A.C.

Successful conversion from a batch to a continuous process requires several steps.

First, gain a thorough understanding of the amount of heat transfer required.Simply attaining a 1,040°F (560°C) surface temperature may not be sufficient. Must the temperature soak through the product? Must a reaction take place? Does the reaction absorb heat (endothermic)? Understanding the answers to these questions will allow you to determine the minimum time required to complete the process.

Second, work out a means of conveying the product through the process. Select a conveyor type. Based on the volume of product processed per hour, the conveyor or belt speed then can be determined.

Using the time estimated in step one and the speed estimated in step two, the heated length of the oven or furnace can be determined. Economics and space requirements will determine if the result is a feasible design. Of course, like all such efforts, pilot scale testing would be wise as well. - George E. Heath, P.E., Thermovation Engineering, (440) 516-2380 or e-mail solutions@thermovation.com.