The future of electric process heating
The Thermon Quantum Truflow Heater™ marks the latest advancement in Thermon’s series of circulation heaters. Kapp expresses excitement about this new technology, proudly considering it a significant leap forward. This heater delivers superior heat transfer performance compared to conventional electrical heaters, thanks to the Truflow Guide Technology. This technology mitigates the risk of overheating by promoting a consistent flow around heating elements, facilitating effective cooling – a concept we refer to as the No Tube in Window. We’re delighted to provide you with a detailed explanation.
Reinventing a well proven concept
An electrical heater is designed to deliver a specific power, but effectively cooling the elements and transferring this power to the process has always been a challenge. Consequently, heaters have been designed with a conservative approach to mitigate the risks of hotspots in low-flow areas. Traditionally, electrical process heaters were designed with a longitudinal flow configuration, placing the cold end at the inlet nozzle. This design featured a relatively large pitch and small rod diameter without baffles, resulting in low velocities within the shell and consequently low heat transfer. While the use of baffles somewhat improved the allowable heat flux, it also introduced the risk of hotspots due to eddies, dead spots, and other uneven distributions and variations in velocity. These hotspots not only posed a potential process risk but also led to a significantly shortened element lifespan. It was because of the above, Thermon felt challenged to create a better concept.
Smaller and better
When you outline these challenges, a clear ambition emerged. Recognizing the potential, the primary objective was to develop a compact electrical heater that would eliminate the challenges associated with traditional circulation heater technology. Significantly smaller and better, that’s the aim. The well-known techniques of shell and tube heat exchangers have contributed to understanding the flow in a tube with baffles. Since dead spots mainly occur in the windows, the idea arose to omit the heating element from those areas. While this doesn’t eliminate the dead spots, it ensures that they do not pose problems. To bring this idea to fruition, there were still some necessary steps to take. Because having an idea is one thing: The question of whether such an idea works was to be answered using the modern engineering tools at our disposal.
No tubes in window
After getting started with it, progress was swift. The outcome of efforts were remarkable. The Thermon Quantum Truflow Heater is designed according the No Tube In Window concept (NTIW concept). It has resulted in significantly more consistent sheath temperatures and a more compact heater design, eliminating hotspots. This not only translates to improved performance but also an extended element lifespan and reduced process risks. In essence, the NTIW concept involves the omission of tubes in the part of the baffles where there is no overlap, referred to as the “window”. In the quest for an efficient heater, this refined directional flow baffle design appeared to be indispensable. It improves heat transfer by reducing phase separation, creating controlled turbulence, and preventing stagnant zones. This results in higher heat transfer rates, compact heater design, and even heat distribution. The impact of directional flow baffles, in general, is well known: They mitigate dead zones and fouling risks, enhancing heat transfer efficiency while reducing cleaning and maintenance. The NTIW concept leads to energy savings and cost reduction due to lower temperature differences (ΔT) between the heating element and the process fluid. Moreover, our NTIW design allow for higher element watt density without overheating, enabling smaller and cost-effective heaters.
Measuring, simulating and testing
When exploring a new concept, we need to adhere to the fundamentals: precise measurements, simulations, and real-life testing. It’s a methodical, step-by-step approach:
- Designing with HTRI
- Validating through ANSYS CFD
- Conducting lab tests with fiber optics to measure local sheath temperatures
- Incorporating all these findings, along with design factors and regulations, back into HTRI.
- Implementing Thermon Quantum Truflow Heater in real-life scenarios to observe its performance.
Successful tests indicated it’s a green light – let’s go.
Interested in learning more about our innovative electrical heater design?
We understand that you may have lingering questions. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch; we’d be delighted to tell you all about it.