Thermal oil installations often consist of a primary system and one or more secondary circuits, also known as users.
The primary circuit consists of a boiler, pump (s), piping, storage tank, expansion tank, possibly a heat exchanger etc. that is installed as a circuit. Naturally equipped with the necessary pressure and temperature protection units.
The boiler heats the thermal oil, the pump circulates the oil in the primary circuit.
Thermal oil installations can be equipped with so-called economizers. These are units that are installed in the boiler’s exhaust system that recover heat and improve efficiency by a few percent.
In the secondary circuits, that is to say the parts of the thermal installation that are connected to the users (this can be a reactor vessel, a drying tunnel, or whatever) will send the required heat there via controlled valves.
The cooled oil is pumped back into the primary circuit to be reheated by the boiler. It will be clear that the capacity of the boiler depends on the size of the secondary circuits and the heat required per circuit.
In any thermal oil installation, all circuits are protected against overpressure, too high and or too low temperature, and the liquid flow (flow) is constantly measured. If the pump (s) fail, the boiler is automatically switched off to prevent overheating and / or combustion of the thermal oil.
The vast majority of thermal oil installations up to 350 °C are virtually pressure-free (only the pump pressure) and operate in the liquid phase of the thermal oil. At temperatures above 350 °C, the pressure can rise to 10 bar.
Thermal oil installations operating above 350 °C can operate in the gas phase of the thermal liquid in addition to the liquid phase, depending on the customer’s wishes or the design of the installation.