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  • Writer's pictureCraig Drabyk

Process Tank Problem Solved with Electric Heating Blankets

Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc. was asked recently to come up with a solution for heating several 15,000-gallon process tanks at a client’s facility.

This was a somewhat uncommon request, as process tanks aren’t usually provided with heat tracing after the fact. Such tanks usually come outfitted with some sort of heating capabilities such as steam or hot water jacketing. In this particular case, the client found that the product stored in these tanks would become overly viscous at temperatures when it cooled, making it difficult to pump into waiting tanker trucks, so they needed to find a way to maintain the product above 160° for several days at a time. A few different approaches had been considered, including steam, hot water, and internal electric coils, but these options were deemed too expensive and disruptive. All would require expensive tank modifications and a fair amount of downtime to their busy process, which was not feasible.

With a bit of research, Omni was able to find a better solution: electric heating blankets that could be mounted to the exterior of the tanks. The only hitch was that the blankets had to be custom-made to fit and wouldn’t be available for another four weeks.

Time was of the essence, so Omni took the opportunity to run all of the necessary power wiring to the tanks and install the control panels and terminal block panels for each tank so as not to waste time after delivery. The 2.5” insulation that would cover the blankets once they were installed was preordered to ensure that it would be on hand and ready to go when needed.

The heating blankets arrived onsite in a little over three weeks. We promptly tested them with an ohmmeter to ensure they worked properly, then mounted them on the tanks and had them wired up within hours of installation. Next, we performed megger testing on the blankets and control wires powering them to make sure there were no anomalies. Finally, the tanks were filled with water and we let the systems run over the weekend to verify that the heating blankets could maintain the tank contents for 72 hours at 160° or above.

Everything worked satisfactorily, and on Monday morning the facility was given the green light to have the insulation installed.

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