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Heat Transfer Fluids

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#1 shvet1


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Posted 20 January 2019 - 03:57 AM

Good day, forum


I have an issue concerning heat transfer strategy. We have a refinery facility where some high temperature heat consumers exist - mostly reboilers. The source of heat is fired heater(s). These reboilers can be heated directly by fired heaters or remotely by one fired heater using a heat transfer fluid. Let's say only a heat transfer fluid should be consider.


Next heat transfer fluids should be considered:

- steam

- vapors organics

- liquid hydrocarbons (e.g. stright run vacuum gasoil)

- liquid organics (e.g. glycols)

- liquid inorganics


Q1: Can one share worth links to a discussion with pros and cons different types of heat transfer fluids?

Q2: Can one share list of heat transfer fluids with short desctription and properties?

Q3: Can one share own experience in heat transfer fluids design/operation.

#2 breizh


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Posted 20 January 2019 - 04:30 AM

Hi Svhet1 ,


I've attached a link for one brand  https://durathermflu...CFQXHtAodFwoAeg


Other well known materials Therminol from Solutia and Dowtherm , data sheets available on Internet .


*The issue with those material is the stability over the time : 

product degradation and treatment which requires a filtration in parallel and N2 blanketing together regular QC analysis to evaluate the coke formation .

*make sure no water is contaminating the thermal fluid otherwise risk of vaporization .

*need to consider the expansion of the product with temperature , vendors to provide guidance 

*need to have a draining tank in case of emergency (full capacity of the loop)

Normally vendors will perform the follow up of the quality of the thermal fluid and  treatment or disposal of the material when ever necessary prior to replacement . 


definitely steam is a better option, my view.


my experience with this material .








Good luck.



Edited by breizh, 20 January 2019 - 07:22 PM.

#3 Bobby Strain

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 10:23 AM

It's always best to use steam in a refinery. Otherwise heavy gasoil is used because it is readily available.



#4 gegio1960


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Posted 21 January 2019 - 02:34 AM

my 2 cents....

1) you won't find any refinery that uses only one fluid.

2) usually there are typical / more convenient solutions for each kind of service (mainly depending by the required temperature and the service duty...but also by possible contaminations, safety aspects, logistic...).

3) proprietary HTF are rarely used (ie only when other solutions are not applicable) because they are very expensive, for the reasons listed by breizh.

4) of course, heat recovery from existing hot process streams shall be the first option.

5) capacity and complexity of the refinery is also a factor.


the basis of the analysis should be:

- a list of the various services to be considered (ie fired heaters to be replaced) with the relevant duties and process outlet temperature to be met (maybe you could share it)

- another list showing the characteristiscs of all the hot sources available (including utilities and potential process streams)


good luck

Edited by gegio1960, 21 January 2019 - 10:08 AM.

#5 Technical Bard

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 09:08 AM

Very high temperatures are not attainable with steam because pressures become very high, or you approach the critical pressure of steam.


Steam is good up to temperatures of perhaps 250 ºC (600 psig) because the pressures are reasonable and latent heats are high.  Above that, thermal fluids are better.   Vaporized or liquid phase fluids are good to perhaps 400 ºC.  Above that, you would need a molten salt or molten metal (the latter are very hazardous). 


Direct fired heaters are really the best option for Crude/Vacuum feed furnaces, Reactor Feed Furnaces, and Delayed Coker furnaces or heavy gas oil fractionator services (such as behind a hydrocracker).  

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