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Tubular Elements Clamped Into a Tank Case Study

Bucan was approached by a client that recycles all types of used plastic containers by grinding up the plastic and washing the resulting pellets. Many of the containers previously held various industrial and petroleum-based solutions creating a difficult-to-heat slurry. Their current process had a heater that was placed inside of the container. This had been the solution to keep the slurry somewhat able to flow as the process of cleaning occurred. The oil-based compounds and the plastic particles in the cleaning solution caked onto the heating elements of the immersion heaters creating a short heater lifespan. This customer was hoping for a better solution and the ability to have fewer maintenance shutdowns. Our engineering team did a review of the application and determined that the heat source did not have to reside inside of the slurry and could be external to the process. The next issue was how to be able to mount the heaters externally in order to keep good thermal contact and not allow the heaters to become an external hazard.  

The solution to the issue would be Tubular heater elements clamped onto the outside of the tank walls. This solution solved the short immersion heater lifespan issue and kept the production process up and running. They were able to insulate the outer contact points of the heater to keep their entire workforce safe and could view and maintain the heater without exposing the heating element to the slurry within the tank. 

Clamping tubular elements to a tank wall is a very effective heating method; however, there are a few simple steps needed to give you the best results. The insulation must be spaced away from the heater sheath; 1inch is an ideal spacing. If the elements get imbedded into the insulation the element cannot dissipate the heat. 

Follow these few installation best-practice steps and you will have an installation with virtually no maintenance:

  • weld studs to the tank wall; make them long enough to allow spacing between the elements and the insulation.

  • clamp elements to tank wall; allow enough freedom for the elements to expand linearly

    • Bucan offers a convenient clamp ideally suited for tubular elements (see diagram)

  • add a sheet metal, or perforated sheet metal cover onto the studs and attach the insulation onto this sheet metal spacer.

  • An added sheet metal cover over the insulation will give you a finished installation with protection for the installation and the heating elements.

This solution is not to be applied to all materials and all tank materials due to the different heat temperatures and requirements of the application. This is a specific case to allow you to explore options available to you from Bucan and our engineering team. We have hundreds of options and our experience with previous solutions can be a valuable asset for current problems or future projects. To explore this type of solution please be sure to review your tank material temperature, the temperature required of the material you are heating and together this can be reviewed for thermal requirements and to determine if the area of the tank can have heaters added to the outside of the process. 

We have many other options for external heating and can propose and assist with the selection of your industrial heater and control system. Please look over some of our selections that can be found at Bucan in our product section, or contact one of our sales team for direct assistance. We look forward to working with you and your team.