Archive for August 2016

Paratherm Introduces Newer, Sleeker, Easier to Use Website

Since 1997, our website has offered customers a convenient platform to connect and obtain information. We are excited to announce that we have launched a newer, sleeker, easier to use website to better serve our customers. The new website is designed to be more visually appealing, while being more user friendly. The website can be conveniently accessed on a desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone.

New Web Design

New Web Design

The new Paratherm website is able to perform many of the same duties Paratherm employees do when assisting hot-oil system users, and others interested in general and specific answers to frequently asked questions about indirect heating technology. The website is useful for customers, design engineers, process managers, fluid specifiers, and maintenance professionals. It educates users on important technical details of heat transfer fluid products, including: product data, safety data, and technical and thermal properties. The website also offers technical advice on products such as hot-oils, and hot-oil system safety, maintenance, and reliability.

Paratherm’s focus is on services including heat transfer fluid analysis, including a fluid maintenance program, standard fluid analysis, and quick analysis. We also offer troubleshooting and thermal fluid system training for high temperature fluids, low temperature fluids, heating and cooling fluids, and food-grade heat transfer fluid. If you’re interested in designing a system or adding components, our professional consultants at Paratherm can help guide you with that also.

Old Web Design

Old Web Design

At Paratherm, we proudly offer timely responses to any sales or technical inquiries, and fast shipments when obtaining the product is critical such as in emergency situations. Paratherm works with industries such as: biodiesel, chemical processing, asphalt paving, engineering, gas processing, industrial laundry, plastics, food, and solar.

When you need application support, fluid analysis, or hot-oil process troubleshooting, you can contact any of the professionals on our team. We hope you enjoy the new website redesign as much as we do. Feel free to explore all of our new features and keep in mind that representatives are available 24/7 at +1 (610) 255-7910, or you can visit the new website where you’ll find a quotes/inquiries form to fill out. Soon after filling the form out, you’ll have an answer to your question or problem, allowing you to get back to the business you need. We look forward to helping you with your heat transfer fluid and temperature-control needs!

The Evolution of Asphalt Heating

Road. (n.) A wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface that vehicles can use.  “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

The first great roadbuilders, and engineers, were the ancient Romans, and parts of their roads survive to this day, over two millennia later. In the interim, the prepared surfaces of engineered roads have been made of mud, clay, brick, stone, and even wood block. Yet, for over a century now, by far the most common durable road surface has been the familiar black cement-and-aggregate mixture known as hot-mix asphalt. Other English-speaking parts of the world know it as bitumen, or macadam.

Ancient Roman road of Tall Aqibrin

Ancient Roman road of Tall Aqibrin

This asphalt, first mined from pitch lakes on the island of Trinidad and similar deposits around the world, was originally mixed with gravel by hand labor in large metal trays placed over direct fire. Hard, hot work. As this natural asphalt became replaced over the years with an engineered formula derived from crude petroleum, both the heating process as well as the mixing technology evolved rapidly. Early mixers were adapted from the rotating drums used for cement mixing.

The earth and its inhabitants (1894) (14579852357)

Asphalt Lake, Trinidad. 19th Cent.

  And by the 1920s or 1930s, some asphalt producers, supplying material for both roadbuilding and for other uses such as roofing and pipe-dipping, had begun to use indirect heating to improve the uniformity and consistency of the end-product, as direct heat could be difficult to control. A 1931 technical article in The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry mentions steam, diphenyl vapor, and hot oil among the heating media already in use for indirectly heating asphalt tanks.

0122 Long

Hillside Roadcut, Asphalt Paved

 The evolution continues to this day. The hot oil that those pioneers used back in the 1930s to heat asphalt tanks was a lubricating-oil base stock, designed not for heating but to protect metal surfaces and extend the life and improve operation of rotating equipment. These days, modern heat-transfer fluids are engineered specifically for high temperature service, and are derived from a variety of chemical families for rugged service, long life, and resistance to thermal and oxidative deterioration.

Asphalt Plant, 1930s

Heating Asphalt , 1930s (Img. from ind.gov)

The heating equipment itself has also evolved a long way from those simple heated trays stirred by hand with long metal hoes. In the 60s producers moved beyond hot-oil heated asphalt plants, adding surge bins and storage tanks to allow more flexibility in meeting variations in demand. Innovators continued to develop other ways to extend the workability time and distance range of the product going out of the plant hot and ready for roadbuilding. Today, information systems, and advances in integrating computer systems into testing, supply, heating, environmental controls, and logistics are adding a whole new level of sophistication to asphalt plant operations.

Paratherm—Heat Transfer Fluids and the Asphalt Industry OEMs

Paratherm works together with the asphalt construction equipment OEMs to help their customers, and ours, to keep their systems maintained, up and running, especially when it counts the most.

It’s August, and in North America, the paving season is at its apex for 2016.

Among the equipment specialists in the asphalt-paving industry is Meeker Equipment Company Inc., which manufactures components to upgrade, renovate, and retrofit existing asphalt and ready-mix plants.

I spoke earlier this month with Jeff Meeker, President of Meeker Equipment, about this year’s paving season.

“We hear from our customers that generally speaking the paving season is going very well,” Meeker said. “Certain areas see a bit of trouble, usually related to political issues. New Jersey in particular needs attention to their transportation trust fund, so there’s a slowdown there at peak season.”

“We also see a lot of paving companies reinvesting in their asphalt plants,” Meeker emphasized. “Money that had been sitting on the sidelines is now going back into rebuilding their businesses.”

I asked Jeff for his opinion about of the evolving role of indirect heating, and specifically how the heat transfer fluids can be a key to preventive maintenance in the manufacturing process.

“Well, our people have become more plugged into talking to construction companies about their hot oil in these equipment discussions, and how important it can be for their operations,” Meeker explained.

“These days, when we visit our customers, our people always carry a heat-transfer-oil test kit,” Meeker said. “The plant managers and maintenance men are increasingly realizing the value of their hot-oil equipment, its impact and importance for their asphalt plants. So we can give them a test kit right there and get them started to evaluate the condition of the system based on the oil test results.”

If you’re an asphalt processor, and you’re interested in a fluid analysis kit, you can get one when the Meeker rep stops by. Or, here at Paratherm, there’s an online form you can fill out and we’ll send you one right away. Here’s the link: Fluid Analysis Kit.

 

Note: In researching the text and reviewing images for this post, I came across a very interesting article, in PennLive, about the origins
and history of the PA Turnpike, its abandoned tunnels and planned modern renewal, and the engineering feat that took it through (not across)
Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains.  Here it is— Ghost Tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Haunting photography, too.

A Stark Reminder of the Importance of Food Process Safety

A rather compelling reminder of the perils surrounding our food, our kitchens, and the entire journey of foodstuffs from field and barn to table and mealtime can be found nearly every day, while watching broadcast television.

In television production-studio kitchens, children as young as 8, and retirees in their 7th decade weave back and forth from the larders to their prep counters and pro-kitchen equipment, and from there to the ovens and stovetops, while competing to be selected as the best, by those persnickety and demanding celebrity chefs.

Vats of boiling oil, trays of broiling bacon, rotating mince blades, manual carrot chopping (fingernails in “claw” mode!), red-hot heating elements, grater surfaces, oven racks—these all can be focal points of danger and potential injury.

We watch as these intrepid and aspiring chefs, young and old, in the rush and turmoil of competing against both time and their highly skilled adversaries, inevitably back into each other while holding a hot vat or steaming kettle, or slice a digit or grate a fingertip or sear a knuckle, potentially dashing their hopes for the title of Master, Grand, or Top Chef.

On another channel in a fascinating recent documentary, about the early development of forensic science in New York City nearly a century ago, food contamination turns out to be the culprit in several very important court cases. For the first time in US history, meticulous testing and research were systematically used as legal evidence to prove accidental death, or intentional murder.

Photo of Alexander Gettler likely in the 20s or 30s

Dr. Alexander Gettler, first toxicologist and forensic chemist with the City of New York

Summer Barbecue Safety Can Be Tricky

It’s the heart of the summer, August 2016. We put wine-soaked cedar planks on our gas grills for salmon seasoning, load piles of charcoal into our Webers and Hibachis, we marinate our proteins and brush EVO on our pepper slices and zucchini filets, we make wonderful food and the aromas of char and caramelization swirl through our neighborhoods; and we, too, must be wary of the dangers. I remember an afternoon 50 years ago when my dad had a stubborn batch of charcoal and was sprinkling some grill lighter fluid on the smoking briquettes. Suddenly the tin can exploded in his hand. It was startling, but fortunately no injury resulted. Perhaps slightly wounded pride in having to explain to your son how not to use lighter fluid, as amply demonstrated. Have you seen or used those stand-alone whole turkey fryers? Check it out on Youtube, and you’ll see more examples of people breaching safety procedures when cooking outdoors. Hint: Do Not Immerse a Frozen Whole Turkey into A Vat of Boiling Oil.

These days, food manufacturers, and restaurants and chains, are very meticulous with their processes to protect the safety of their products, and their customers. And their customers’ customers. Still, accidents happen.

Indirect heating with heat transfer fluids has been common in industrial manufacturing, including food processing, for several decades now.

In 1968, a heat transfer fluid made of PCB (since banned for functional heating purposes, as well as most other uses) poisoned more than 1600 people in Japan, due to accidental contamination of edible rice oil.

We’ve Come a Long Way Since 1968

Food-grade heat transfer fluids are now very widely used in food manufacturing equipment, including high volume fryers, ovens, grills, dryers, and distillation applications; in the poultry, meat, dairy, baking and vegetable-oil processing industries.

Food-grade heat transfer fluids assure the consumer public, and the food production industry, that these crucial steps of these food-manufacturing processes are properly engineered, safe, and reliable.

Food-grade heat transfer fluids were originally registered and certified in the late 1970s by the USFDA and the USDA. Now, these certifications are maintained and managed by the NSF.

No food-grade heat transfer fluid has been more researched and more certified for safety than the Paratherm™ NF heat transfer fluid. In addition to its original certifications from the USFDA, the USDA, Canada H&W, and New Zealand MAF, Organism Laboratory Bioassay; and its current NSF registration and kosher and Halal acceptance, it’s the only product on the market that has been the subject of research into its inherent safety and toxicity after being used in a working process heating system manufacturing food products for several years.

Image of a daisy, in a flask of clear heat transfer fluid, like a vase

Paratherm NF Food-Grade Heat Transfer Fluid

In other words, not only has Paratherm NF held multiple certifications and passed toxicity standards as a brand-new, clear, unused fluid, it has also passed muster as a used, beaten up, moderately browned, yet still perfectly usable, still-within-specifications food-grade thermal oil.

We did these tests because no other food-grade fluid is used in more food plants and applications. Paratherm is the leader in this niche, in products, in service, in technical expertise, and we take the safety of the product very seriously, and intend to remain the leader.

So you can be assured, whether you’re specifying food-grade fluid for a new system, or have been using the same charge of fluid for 5 years, that it’s safe. Contamination aside, Paratherm NF continues to pass bioassay whether it’s new or used.

Paratherm also works with all its customers to maintain their systems, to test their fluids regularly, to avoid problems and prevent contamination as much as possible. Paratherm offers plenty of information on the web as well, to assist with safe handling and use of all of our products.

Paratherm has a section of its website that collects all these safety resources in a single place. View it at www.paratherm.com/safety