Heat transfer fluid heating systems serve a valuable role in myriad process heating applications. In this issue of Process Heating, we have two articles to help you be successful using thermal fluids as well as advice on boilers, ovens and dryers, and packaged heating systems.

Implementing a fluid-management program and preventing fluid degradation are two keys to long-term thermal fluid heating success, says Edward Cass of Paratherm Heat Transfer Fluids. Heat transfer fluids are developed specifically to withstand high temperatures in industrial fluid heating systems. While it may be tempting to opt for lubricating oils or alternatives, high temperature fluids can provide years of relatively trouble-free service, provided that the three most common threats to sustained performance — thermal degradation, oxidative degradation and contamination — are avoided. Cass provides strategies that can help.

Heat transfer fluids and their compatibility with materials used to make gaskets, seals, O-rings and the like are the focus of an article by Femi Jegede, P.E., of Isel LLC. Incompatibility between the seal materials and the heat transfer fluid can contribute to leaks and equipment failures. Furthermore, fluid degradation that leads to the formation of high boilers and low boilers can cause seal degradation, potentially leading to further degradation via fluid contamination.

Fluid heating of another material — water — occurs in industrial steam and hot water boilers. Not unlike thermal fluid heating systems, with boilers, it is important to maintain fluid separation in hot water and steam boilers, notes Jack Coe, Rite Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. Acidic or caustic process solutions can damage the boiler if they migrate into the system piping through a cracked heat exchanger or other means. Coe tackles some of the most commonly misunderstood questions about specifying an industrial process boiler to help you make an appropriate choice for your application.

Once you have any process heating equipment operating in your plant, routine inspections and preventive maintenance will go a long way toward maximizing equipment life. This is certainly true of industrial ovens and dryers, which routinely can provide 30 years or more of service with a bit of attention. How much attention is needed depends, at least in part, on how you use the equipment, says Steven Onsager of LaX Engineered Solutions. Some systems are integral to the process, and downtime from an oven or dryer can cost a facility thousands in lost production. Other ovens or dryers are called into service less frequently, perhaps on a batch basis when production outstrips the ability of other systems to meet demand. While maintenance is important for every system, if an oven or dryer is integral to your process, you should consider condition monitoring and predictive maintenance options.

Packaged heating systems — industrial process heating equipment sold in a turnkey or packaged system, supplied by a company that specializes in the application of process heat — take many forms, including custom designs. Advantages of packaged systems include the fact that the combustion equipment, fuel trains and controls are integrated and designed to work together. Jon G. Moore Sr. and Christopher Del Sole of Etter Engineering provide an overview of the benefits of packaged systems and offer guidance on ensuring good control and equipment safety.