Thermal oil systems usually consist of a primary system and one or more secondary systems.

The primary system consists of a heating boiler, pump(s), piping, storage tank, expansion tank, possibly a heat exchanger, etc. that is constructed as a circuit, of course 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 systems can be equipped with so-called economizers. These are units that are installed in the boiler’s exhaust gas system and that can improve efficiency by a few percent.

In the secondary circuits, ie those parts of the thermal system that are connected to the users (this can be a reactor vessel, a drying tunnel, or whatever) will release the heat required 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 required heat per circuit. In thermal oil systems, all circuits are protected against overpressure, too high and/or too low temperatures, and the flow is constantly measured. In the event of a failure of the pump(s), the boiler is then automatically switched off to prevent overheating and/or combustion of the thermal oil.

The vast majority of thermal oil systems up to 350°C are virtually pressureless and operate in the liquid phase of the thermal oil. At temperatures above 350°C, the pressure can rise up to 10 bar. Thermal oil systems operating around 400°C can operate in the gas phase of the thermal fluid in addition to the liquid phase, depending on the customer’s wishes.

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