Archive for the asphalt industry Category

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.

Ask the Professionals: Service and Maintenance of Thermal Fluid Systems

Why should someone pick a fluid system over steam?

Thermal-fluid systems have been replacing steam in a wide range of process applications for decades. Non pressurization, simpler components, and higher efficiencies make these systems easier to run and maintain. Once you have decided to switch to a thermal-fluid system, proper service and maintenance are required to ensure that fluids and equipment stay in optimal condition. As an industry leader, Paratherm has experience and the service capabilities to keep your systems up and running. Hot-oil systems are especially attractive for new installations where steam boilers or a steam utility isn’t already present, and heating or heat removal is needed more than the unique properties of the steam itself.

What is your fluid maintenance program? Will it help me?

In short term, yes – it will help you. Paratherm’s Fluid Maintenance Program takes the guesswork out of thermal-fluid analysis. Through sample kits, we test your fluid, compare it against previous samples, and provide you with feedback on its condition. This comprehensive lab review determines if the fluid results are normal, if an equipment problem exists, or if operational issues are causing fluid to degrade. If any changes have occurred, you will be able to take corrective actions to prevent system downtime or damage. Proactive system maintenance is scheduled to meet your needs with incentives offered toward the next analysis.

Image of Laboratory

Our New Laboratory

Do you offer any other services to keep my system on track?

Thermal Fluid System Training is another service Paratherm offers to evaluate in-house maintenance and operation of the thermal-fluid system. Our qualified technical service representative arrives for a half-day or full-day site visit to inspect the system and train personnel on proper safety, operation, and operating practices. A follow-up interview and summary report are included. We also provide preventative maintenance programs, troubleshooting, and system application and design reviews.

Final Thoughts From the Experts

The experts at Paratherm are here to help you manage all aspects of thermal-fluid systems. From training personnel on new systems to maintaining existing systems, we provide the services and maintenance programs to keep your process running smoothly and effectively. In need of our systems today? Contact us here.

Construction Today Features Paratherm

Recently, our company was featured in Construction Today, the magazine aimed at the people who build North America. This feature allowed us to highlight some of the areas where we stand as segment leaders and discuss how we are constantly trying to move forward with asphalt heating technology.

Dealing With Challenges and Presenting Solutions

One way that we, at Paratherm, have demonstrated our superiority is through the solutions we have developed from our fluid analysis program. Our customers work with asphalt, which stays fluid prior to use, but when it cools it becomes the solid surfaces you find on roadways. Keeping that asphalt hot and pliable is important.

Often, customers come to us with systems where the fluid that is in use (sometimes a multi-purpose oil instead of thermal fluid engineered for high-temperature heating use) has degraded faster than expected, which can cause all sorts of problems with uneven system heating, component damage, or loss of production. Our engineers use fluid analysis to troubleshoot the systems, and help to address any problems. The engineers can help the customer to correct incipient problems and avoid full system failure, or and use a running fluid analysis history to track their fluids over time, keeping them in good condition — preventing problems before they occur.Front page of Paratherm Article, Construction Today

Developing New Products

One of the biggest dilemmas our customers face, and possibly the most crucial, is assessing and replacing heat-transfer fluid in hot-mix asphalt plants and storage tanks. Asphalt needs to be kept hot and fluid for time periods of up to a week. Timing depends upon the plant schedule and the schedule of the crews spreading the asphalt. The fluid must be able to take the high temperatures without degrading or breaking down, and still be operable for years to come.

On top of developing these new products for industrial indirect heating, and improving services for maintaining them, we also work with our customers to provide training sessions on using our heat-transfer fluids. After all, simply having the technology isn’t enough. Clients must have the necessary training and knowledge of the product. We work on-site, with equipment manufacturers as well as plant managers and maintenance personnel, to make recommendations and help our customers get the best life out of the fluid.

As a national leader in heat transfer fluids, we expect our business to continue to grow. With the investment in infrastructure and road repairs that seemingly increase year after year, Paratherm sees a big future in the market. We also continually explore other uses for our heat-transfer fluids, in other applications.

We would like to take a moment to recognize Janice Hoppe for the great article write in Construction Today. Continue reading our blog for the latest updates!

Paratherm Turned up the Heat in 2015!

As specialists in hot-oil systems, heat transfer fluids, and processes, we know how to keep systems and applications up and running. As a company, we are continually improving our products and Dec. 2015 Calendar Imageservices to meet the needs of our customers and in 2015 we continued that ideal.

The past 12 months have seen a few major changes for our company, including a move to new office space. As anyone who has ever moved can attest, it is hard work and requires plenty of planning to make a move go smoothly and, as of Dec. 21, our new office address is: 2009 Renaissance Blvd, King of Prussia, PA 19406. With added space and new surroundings we are better able to serve our customers. The move has been seamless thus far and we thank everyone who worked so diligently to make it go so smoothly.

We are also welcoming a new member to the Paratherm team! Ed Delate has come on board as the new Business Director and has hit the ground running. Ed has brought his enthusiasm to the whole team and has many plans and ideas to bring to his new role. We are all very excited to have Ed join us on our mission to serve our customers with the industry’s best system and fluid monitoring services, complementing our engineered hot oils and synthetic heat transfer fluids for a full range of temperatures.

In 2015, the biodiesel market continued to increase volume and the industry is satisfied that the EPA’s final ruling on the Renewable Fuels Standards issue has been increased to 2 billion gallons per year by 2017. Representing a doubling of the amount that was required by the original law, this should keep the biodiesel industry operating at near capacity if the 2017 mandate is met. The RFS ends the year on a positive note for biodiesels.

Keep an eye out for our early January blogs that will take an in-depth look at the above content. In closing out the year we would like to wish that all of our customers enjoy very happy and healthy New Year!

March Madness: Two Exciting Upcoming Trade Shows

One of the great things about making products that serve so many different industries and applications is that you get to meet, interact with, and learn about so many different people and companies.

This is especially true when attending industry trade shows—invaluable opportunities to not only get your product out there, but to connect with people and continue to learn more about industry trends, news, and technologies. Therefore, we’re very excited about two upcoming trade shows in March; both, we’re sure, will prove to be successful.

The first show brings us to Baltimore on March 17-19, for the World Of Asphalt 2015. Billed as “The Base of Innovation” for the asphalt industry, it’s a combination of innovation and technology, and in-depth educational opportunities. Of course, it’s also an opportunity for us to exhibit our industry-leading heat transfer fluids for asphalt tanks, mix plants, and storage silos.

These hot oils, designed for the specific needs associated with maintaining asphalt production and quality in plants and tanks, are one-of-a-kind (minimal additives and formulated to withstand temperatures over 600 degrees Fahrenheit!), and we’re very eager to display them at the World Of Asphalt.  Be sure to look for us at booth 1287!

The next trade show brings us to Orlando on March 23-27, where we’ll be connecting and reconnecting with our friends in the plastics industry. At NPE2015 , “the world’s most important plastics trade show and conference of the year,” we’ll once again have the opportunity to learn and interact, while showing attendees how our heat transfer fluids and related services can benefit them.

After all, Paratherm’s hot oils control process temperatures in molding, blowmolding, laminating, thermoforming, extrusion, and more. They solve countless problems while delivering uniformity, reliability, and the highest quality—and are non-fouling and non-toxic. In short, our hot oils for the plastics industry are formulated to make their products and processes better.  View Paratherm’s full NPE directory page at this link:  Paratherm at NPE2015.

March will bring much excitement and great opportunities for us, and we’re looking forward to getting face-to-face with old and new friends at both events. We look forward to seeing you there!

Did Our Harsh Winter Set Up A Boom In Summer Paving Projects?

“The weather was relentless.”

As 2014 proceeds, when a person makes a statement like that anywhere in North America, the reaction is usually an agreeing nod.

But that nod might mean something completely different depending on where you are.

In the Dakotas, Great Lakes, and New England, they might be thinking about record cold spells.

In the great Mid-West, it was rain, flooding, and freak late-winter thunderstorms.

Prolonged drought in Texas, Oklahoma, California and Nevada.  The whole southwest, really.

But if you’re in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ontario or Illinois—or New York, Maryland, Virginia or Delaware, what are you thinking?  Relentless cold, snow, ice, freezing rain.  In other words, a little bit of everything (except the drought part).

Atlanta?  Forget about it!

And now, it’s summer, and we’re all driving around, commuting to work, going on vacation, wondering what the *~!# happened to our highways!

Ice Storm

Severe winter weather is a triple whammy that crumbles a lot of asphalt and concrete.  And the way that we cope with that weather wreaks havoc with the budgets allocated to repair the damage and maintain the condition of the surfaces.

Here’s how it works:  The last couple of years, we may not have invested enough in maintaining the infrastructure.  Going into the winter season, many surfaces had cracks and pits that didn’t get filled or repaved before the snows.  Winter came, and repeatedly snow, ice, and water filled the cracks, infiltrated, froze, thawed, contracted, expanded, and drove deeper into the substructure.   Everything loosened up.  Salt and scraping plow blades may have done their parts too.  The roads are in ruins.

Some would assume that this means a booming—perhaps record breaking—asphalt paving industry this summer.

Not so fast.  Early reports actually show nonbuilding (public works) construction contracts down 13% this year, compared to the same period in 2013.

Some areas seem to have found the funds to properly repair and maintain their highways after the devastation caused by recent severe weather.   Governor Cuomo up in New York State recently announced major funding for road projects for this paving season, with the intention of preventing a vicious cycle of continuing and accelerating deterioration.

But many states reported spending double, even triple on salt and snow removal in the winter of 2014.  They went way, way over budget for their annual highway expenditures, and have nothing left—less than nothing—for the summer/fall  paving season.

So maybe there’s no funding left to fix these roads, no money.  But there are still a lot of cracks, holes, and long washboard stretches where your tires rumble and your teeth rattle.

For those who don’t drive or don’t pay much attention to the day to day of the asphalt industry, the following numbers may be of interest. According to this article in TIME, a report was released that estimates that 27% of major urban roads need repair. That is a high enough percentage to cost drivers $80 billion per year. On top of that, the average driver eats $277 per year for repairs on their cars due to driving on pothole ridden roads.

If they’re not fixed, and we have another hard winter in 2015,  this time next year we may be driving on rubble.

 

Successes of 2013 Move into 2014!

We are excited to see the old year winding down and the New Year quickly approaching.  It has been a busy 2013 and thanks to our customers, it was a great one too!

Here’s a look ahead for 2014:

  • We are working on a possible new transfer fluid product for the asphalt paving industry. Its special properties will be oriented towards oxidation resistance and high thermal stability.  We plan on introducing it at an economical price.
  • In addition to this new transfer fluid, we will be developing new products that will target a new set of applications that should be of interest to many of our customers.
  • We are working on a realignment of our sales force in the New Year.  In particular, we will have an increased focus on international opportunities.
  • Gabriel Melo will be helping out on these new international deals.  His new title is International Business Development Manager.  He has international responsibilities beyond South America, which had been his main focus.
  • Two new domestic sales engineers were also added to our sales/service team in late 2013: Jim Walzer, handling liaison with Engineering Companies, Oil & Gas, Biodiesel and Bioenergy; and  Mike DiGiacomo, handling existing accounts and new inquiries in the western USA and Canada.  Great capabilities and experience, welcome additions to the Paratherm effort.
  • Paratherm director of technology Jim Oetinger will be speaking at the AICHE Spring Meeting in New Orleans, March/April 2014.  Stay tuned, we will update soon with details.

These are just a few of the many exciting things that will be taking place at Paratherm.  We hope that you and your families have a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year.  See you again in 2014!

Happy Holidays!!

Heat Transfer Fluids: A Driving Force of the Asphalt Industry

In the summer of 1970, my first summer job was working on a paving crew.

Back then, the equipment, and the labor used for layering the prep, the screenings, and the asphalt surfacing, was much less specialized than it is today.  We were laying country roads, and an occasional driveway, in rural Chester County, Pennsylvania.  The crew consisted of a foreman, a crew leader, 2 or three drivers  and equipment operators, and around ten laborers.  There was no project engineer as such.  The owner of the company occasionally showed up (he had several working crews at the time) and grabbed a shovel himself.  At 14, I was the youngest, and smallest, and pretty much the least of them, in terms of responsibility and capability. Certainly in terms of experience.  This was a rough-edged, but good humored bunch, and included all sizes, races and ages.

When a stretch of road was prepped and ready, and a dump truck showed up full of hot black asphalt mix, everybody grabbed a tool and pitched in.  It was a controlled, cooperative frenzy to properly, carefully tilt the dump bed, deposit part of the load, shovel, rake and smooth the mix, then steamroll it and move along to the next section.  For twenty minutes, we’d sweat in the summer heat.  Then, until the next load arrived, the pace slowed while screenings were raked and other prep was done, and the fellows chafed each other about their weekend conquests down the shore in Wildwood while chugging ice water from the water jugs the foreman brought along.  If the saltiness of the language was lightened for a 14 year old, it was still a pretty spicy stew.  Sometimes they’d send me off to clean the shovels of the encrusted asphalt cement, with kerosene.

Most Americans don’t think about the roads they are riding on while driving from point A to point B. What they may not realize is that asphalt is literally paving the way for almost every single one of us to get where we need to go. Remarkably, of the 2.4 million miles of paved roads throughout the U.S., 2.3 million of them are paved with hot mix asphalt (HMA).

As of 2009, there were 3,900 asphalt plants producing 360 million tons of HMA, valued at $24 billion.  It’s an industry that’s huge and imperative—over the next 50 years, it’s estimated that it will cost $185 billion to maintain our country’s aging infrastructure, and HMA is going to be a very large part of it. As such an important aspect of our lives, these 3,900 asphalt plants in operation need to be functioning at their best at all times—any delay can be detrimental.

I didn’t know it at the time of course, but around the time when I had my first summer job, hot-oil systems, which indirectly heat varied equipment at asphalt plants, were rapidly replacing inefficient and emissive direct-fired heating, and helping enable plants to lengthen the viable storage time of prepared hot-mix asphalt.  Nowadays, virtually every plant has a hot oil system which heats the asphalt cement—hundreds of thousands of tons of it across North America. Using low-cost oils can cause long-term, serious problems to a system, as well as delays. Such multi-purpose oils are not designed to perform the continuous heating functions HMA plants require. Engineered heat transfer fluids, on the other hand, are specifically designed for continuous high-temperature systems, and will not break down the way multi-purpose lubricating or hydraulic oils can.

This is an industry where calculations, limitations and specifications have become increasingly important.  The practical limit for distance from the plant to the job is around 50 miles, because the insulated trucks will only keep the mix hot and workable for so long. This is why those 3900 asphalt plants are literally peppered all across the country. Which means that those average Americans moving from point A to point B have seen  asphalt plants hundreds of times, and may in fact see them every day without knowing it.  Asphalt plants have a distinctive look with a few telltale visible characteristics; pyramid-like piles of gravel (the aggregate) a slanted conveyor to move the aggregate, and tall cylindrical structures which are either asphalt cement tanks or storage silos.  In 1970, when I worked briefly on a paving crew, you could also see the smoke from the plant’s stacks.  These days, emissions are very well controlled and regulated.

Drawing silhoette of asphalt plant with silos, heater, piles of aggregate

As anyone in the industry knows, this is a seasonal business—in cold weather climates, operation and paving runs from the spring through the late fall, as paving can’t efficiently be done below 40 degrees. This off-season is a great time to maintain the heat transfer fluids and keep them working optimally whereas, during the season, time is of the essence. Keeping a program of routine checks, including a fluid analysis, cleaning equipment, checking insulation, and practicing shut down procedures will ensure that come spring, everything is working perfectly.

Chemical analysis of the heat transfer fluid (usually referred to as “the hot oil” in this industry) is particularly important as the cold season approaches.  If a hot-oil system has been running continuously for several months, and the fluid has significantly degraded due to oxidation or overheating, the heat transfer fluid could actually solidify when the system is finally shut down.   And dismantling a hot oil system is an expensive way to change the oil.  If a cooled sample of hot oil won’t pour, proceed with caution; keep the circuit hot until you consult with the heater or fluid manufacturer.

When our nation’s entire road transportation system depends on the performance of HMA plants, the right kind of heating is essential.