Selecting the correct heating for a process application used to mean only one thing ... shell and tube or plate heat exchangers. But for more than 30 years now specialist companies have been developing direct electric heating solutions.
Initially viewed with suspicion especially in hazardous areas they have now become commonplace and are available with hazardous area certification to suit all markets. Power also used to be a consideration with heaters around 100Kw being considered large but today we are seeing increasing applications for multi-megawatt systems especially in gas plants.
Electric heaters are therefore a viable source of heat for most applications in the hydrocarbon sector and use the energy in a much more efficient manor with little or no transmission loss between the power source and the heater unlike heat exchangers which need high pressure high temperature piping to be run in both directions.
Electric heater manufactures use a variety of tools to design heaters to accurately match the flow conditions and process requirements to produce compact designs and generally they supply an integrated control system as part of the package. The design criteria are best left to the manufacturer as they will invariably produce the most cost effective design.
Chromalox is based in Croydon, Surrey, UK. www.chromalox.com