Icing a Diamond

This winter saw many extremes: Record-breaking cold weather.  Crater potholes turning highways into giant slalom courses.  The rising cost of heating homes and businesses.  Major storms named after miscellaneous movie gladiators.  One thing that was intense in a different kind of way was the increasing popularity of NHL hockey games played outdoors on baseball diamonds that had never seen ice or hockey before.

Original 2008 NHL Winter Classic

2008 Winter Classic

Many people wonder how they are able to turn a baseball diamond into a Winter Classic hockey rink without the ice melting. And if you weren’t worried about melting, perhaps you were wondering how they kept the ice at the particular temperature required for a professional hockey game.

An article in New York Magazine, gave us a step by step description on how something like this is done and after reading it, we thought it was worth talking about!

One of the first steps that the article mentions is that, in order to keep the ice frozen for the big games, they need to pump in 3,000 gallons of glycol through the league’s custom-made refrigeration trucks. While glycol is the low-temp secondary refrigerant that was chosen for this particular application, there are other types of cooling liquids that can be used for larger jobs such as this one.

In fact, recreational ice applications are an interesting example of the principles at work in fluid selection for any purpose, including industrial heating and cooling. Whether for recreational or industrial function, the choice of a specific fluid chemistry and physical properties must be informed by some familiarity with the unique conditions of the job at hand.

Portable Ice Rink

Portable Ice Rink

For instance, for rink-ice applications a salt-brine solution is likely the best, most efficient choice for year-round permanent rinks, while a glycol-water solution might be the better option for temporary installations such as those constructed on baseball diamonds or football fields for single events.

Why?  It may be oversimplification, because these are large, carefully engineered systems where other criteria may come into play depending on the specific needs at hand, but mainly because one system must be portable, and the other enjoys the stability of permanence. Brine solutions, such as calcium chloride or newer and more equipment-friendly chemistries like potassium formate are considerably more efficient and thus require a lower investment outlay for the supporting equipment, and for the liquid itself, than the glycol.  And the glycol solution tends to be more durable and more capable to withstand the unique demands of being pumped in and out of the system repeatedly when the big show moves from market to market.

And so it is with industrial heat transfer fluids. Even at the same operating temperature, you may want to specify a different fluid for a system that just runs at that temperature 24/7 than for another system that is shut down and started up several times a month, or one using multiple fuel sources, in a humid environment, in the Alaskan tundra.

In Depth:
Recreational Ice Refrigeration Athletic Business
Secondary Refrigerants Ontario Recreation Facilities Assoc.
CPTherm New Technology Brine Solution from CPI Fluid Engineering

Since functional liquids and additives, and the equipment circulating them, are constantly under development, the options continue to grow. Forty years ago, most professional ice and hockey rinks were above the Mason-Dixon Line. Technology advancements have allowed the sport’s migration to Texas, Florida, and beyond. Whether you go with glycol or brine or any other of a number of products to cool your large applications, we love to hear about stories and projects like the one mentioned in New York Magazine. Can you think of any projects that you have worked on, that are similar to this? Let us know in our comments section.

 

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!!

Cleaning Your Heat Transfer Fluid System for Optimal Performance

If you use Paratherm’s high-quality thermal fluids, you probably know the heat transfer solutions they offer, and their many advantages.

But did you also know that it’s important to use a good cleaner in the system to keep it running optimally? Over time, sludge deposits can reduce the flow—and therefore, the heat transfer—in continuously running systems. Using a cleaner prevents this problem and eliminates any possible downtime.

Our Paratherm LC™ System Cleaner Liquid is made to clean your system and work in perfect harmony with our heat transfer fluids, and now through the end of November, we are offering it at a special 15% discount.

Used in mineral oil heat transfer fluid systems, this is an additive cleaner that is introduced in small concentrations—anywhere from three to 10% of the system volume.  You simply add the cleaner and run the system normally for a period of time, while the product dissolves and suspends the deposits. The system continues to run and produce as it normally does, meaning no slowdown or downtime, while its branded blend of additives and detergents dissolve deposits, sludge, and carbon.

Fluid Samples in Jars

Severely Degraded Gelled Fluid, Used Fluid, and New Fluid (L to R)

The process takes anywhere from three weeks to three months, depending on the amount of deposits, after which you simply refill the system with new heat transfer fluid. And if you want to know how the system is running before and after using Paratherm LC™ system cleaner, we can perform a complete heat transfer fluid analysis, providing a full analysis report. If you’re not sure whether  your system is ready for the cleaner yet, the analysis will check its condition and answer any and all questions.

While Paratherm LC™ is the ideal cleaning product for dissolving deposits and sludge in mineral oil-based fluids, we also offer Paratherm AC™ for synthetic/organic-based fluids, and Paratherm SC™ to disintegrate carbon lumps in smaller electrically heated mineral oil-based units.

Not sure which product you need? You can view the line of cleaning products on our website (http://www.paratherm.com/system-cleaners/), or feel free to call us with any questions at 800-222-3611.

National Manufacturing Month

When Manufacturing Day launched on Oct. 4, 2012, hundreds of manufacturing companies and thousands of people participated in the first annual event highlighting the value of manufacturing to the United States economy and its highly skilled careers. This response prompted an extension of the day into the entire month of October.

Through a series of open houses, public tours, career workshops and other events on Oct., 4, 2013, and throughout the rest of the month, hundreds of manufacturers will draw public attention to manufacturing’s present-day reality by opening their doors and showing, in a coordinated effort, exactly what manufacturing and careers therein are — and what they aren’t.

Modern manufacturing environments are commonly thought of as dark, dangerous factories designed for low-skilled workers, when in fact today’s manufacturing environments include highly trained, well-paid employees who work on state-of-the-art equipment. Today’s manufacturing facilities are sleek, technology-driven places that include robots, automated machinery, screen technologies and increasingly more 3-D printing technologies. Present-day engineers and developers in manufacturing are building on engineers’ past technological innovations to create the next breakthroughs that will address tomorrow’s great challenges.

Ultimately, manufacturing is an attractive mixture of cutting-edge tech and traditional hands-on work. Many professionals today are so involved in their electronic and digital lives that they may feel removed from the actual “stuff” that they are involved in producing. Even while utilizing sophisticated digital tools, manufacturers have the unique benefit of being makers – working with the satisfaction of making real products for people.

The nation’s manufacturing sector provides a number of other compelling reasons for young people to pursue manufacturing careers. For instance, did you know that the annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000? Or that 90 percent of them have medical benefits? Moreover, despite all the doom-and-gloom news in recent years about how manufacturing jobs are shrinking, manufacturers have the highest job tenure in the private sector.

The importance of manufacturing and the role of its workers in bringing innovative improvements to the people who need them can hardly be overstated. And the large-scale results are clearly felt. According to information provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a cosponsor of Manufacturing Day:

  • For every dollar of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.43 for the U.S. economy;
  • In just five states, manufacturing adds more than half a trillion dollars to the nation’s economy;
  • Manufacturers are responsible for almost two-thirds of all private-sector research and development; and
  • Each manufacturing job creates at least 2.91 more jobs in other sectors.

Manufacturing Day/Month presents a great opportunity to showcase how modern manufacturing is not our grandfathers’ manufacturing anymore, and is a chance to attract young people and get them excited about pursuing a highly rewarding career in a technology-driven, innovative environment that will also provide a good-paying job. It is a chance to correct common misperceptions about manufacturing in the United States today.

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.

Sampling Part 2: Where and How

Where and how you take a thermal fluid sample can make all the difference in what the test results reveal.

Where a sample should be taken is simple – any location where there is flow and the temperature is above 180°F. A blowdown valve on the pump suction strainer housing is a good bet since that’s where you’ll find the lowest pressure and temperature in most systems.  Piping drain valves will work as long as you purge several containers worth of fluid before taking the sample. Expansion tank or thermal buffer tank drain valves are tempting as a sample location because they are (usually) cool and (mostly) accessible. Don’t do it. For a long list of reasons, it’s almost the worst place to take a sample, just above scooping it off the floor near the pump.

Shows jar, tubing, safety-gloved hands, heat transfer fluid sampling

Taking the Hot Oil Sample

How to take a sample is not quite as simple. Why?  Because improper sampling practices can actually alter the physical characteristics of the sample that will be measured.

Ideally, a sample should be taken directly into a glass sample jar so any contamination or carbon in the fluid is easy to measure. The problem with glass is that it can shatter if the sample is taken too hot (above 250°F).  So if the next heater shutdown isn’t scheduled until the Phillies win the pennant, install 18-24” of ¼” copper tubing on the sample port and bend a loop or two through a bucket of water. This will knock the sample temperature down the couple hundred degrees needed to keep the glass from breaking.  Or take the sample in a clean metal can with a screw top and send that in (just remember to label it with the system name and date).  Do not take the hot sample in a metal “cooling” bucket and then transfer it to the sample container.

 

Image of Cooling Apparatus, Copper Coils in a Jar

Improvised Fluid Sampling Cooler

 


See Paratherm’s one-minute video on fluid sampling and testing here —
Heat Transfer Fluid Sampling

Proper Fire Prevention and Safety in Laundries

Laundry fires are among the more common types of fire that occur in institutional settings. They happen with regular frequency—yet, they often can be prevented. It’s a matter of following correct procedures utilizing the best heating systems.  Recently, an entire high school had to be evacuated when one of the laundry dryers caught fire.  Thankfully, no one was hurt; but it could have been much worse, and possibly, could have been preventable.

General rules for safe operations and fire prevention in laundry facilities include use of preventive maintenance (lint removal, cleaning, checking for proper exhaust, etc.), never leaving equipment unattended while in use, proper knowledge of manufacturers’ safety precautions, and never drying materials with rubber or cleaning solvents on them.

One specific way to increase safety in industrial laundries is by specifying a thermal-oil system instead of other heating alternatives.  Not only are there many other benefits—increased productivity, lower operating costs, no system corrosion, less maintenance, fewer environmental hazards, and possibly eliminating the need for a licensed operating engineer—there are also lower risks associated with hot oil.  For example, the Paratherm HE heat transfer fluid has a flash point of 440 degrees and a fire point of 500 degrees, which are higher than the operating temperature of hot-oil ironers.

While the potential for serious fires when using thermal fluid systems is low, it’s important to keep certain things in mind to mitigate risk as much as possible. In general, when using these systems, allow for adequate ventilation, consider using a dike to contain leaks, install isolation and bleed valves, use a properly sized expansion tank, and ensure all insulation is placed and maintained properly.  Also, have your fluid supplier analyze the fluid once a year, or more often if you notice changes in system performance.  Chemical analysis of the hot oil can help pinpoint what’s wrong with the equipment, and can even help prevent future problems and system downtime.

We’ve seen great success with the use of our products in industrial laundries throughout the country. In California, for instance, where the law requires the use of a 24-hr licensed attendant for direct-fired steam systems, but not for thermal fluid systems, hospitals throughout the state have replaced steam with hot oil and specified Paratherm, saving money and staying safe.

Always remain cautious and follow procedures correctly, and the use of thermal fluid systems in laundries will prove highly beneficial and safe.

Heat Transfer Fluids: Who and What Are They For?

Heat transfer fluids serve a wide variety of industrial needs, including very simple, static designs as well as complex multi-loop systems that perform multiple functions in a manufacturing process.

As many variations as there are in the utilization and design of processes using heat transfer fluids, there are nearly as many industries that employ them.  Their advantages are seen by a broad range of applications (mainly within the process industries) and hundreds of thousands of users daily. So what exactly are they, and why do they work so well?

Multiple industry images

In the strictest sense of the term, a heat transfer fluid is any fluid (gaseous or liquid) used where a process must be heated and/or cooled.  Therefore, this could include water and steam, but for the purposes of this post, we will mainly discuss engineered heat transfer fluids, which are products made from petroleum or synthetic-based feedstocks.

However, when looking at the benefits of engineered heat transfer fluids, it’s important to understand why they are advantageous over water and steam heat transfer, as well as compared to direct heat application.  The benefits include:

Engineered heat transfer fluids vs. water/steam—Water freezes at 32°F, a limitation that engineered heat transfer fluids don’t suffer; water also boils at 212°F(at sea level), and anything above that creates a pressurized condition which requires stronger material, another limitation engineered heat transfer fluids don’t have.  Engineered fluids’ range (in the liquid phase) is much wider, at -150°F to 650°F and above.  Water and steam also require higher maintenance costs and greater safety concerns.

Engineered heat transfer fluids vs. direct heat application—Engineered heat transfer fluids provide greater control, greater precision, and greater uniformity in heating and/or cooling.

So what industries benefits from their use, and in what ways?

INDUSTRY EXAMPLES OF APPLICATION
Food Meat & Poultry Further Processing, Snack Foods
Chemicals Batch Reactors, Continuous Processes
Plastics, Rubbers, and Composites Molding, Blow Molding, Extrusion
Petrochemicals Catalysis, Distillation, Synthesis
Oil and Gas Gas Processing, Refineries
Converting Presses, Rolls, Laminating, Printing
Asphalt and Concrete Concrete Heating, Hot-Mix Paving
Building Materials Engineered Woods, Roofing Materials
Die Casting Die Temperature Control
Industrial Laundry Flat Work Ironers, Steam Generators

 

The above chart outlines a partial view of the wide range of industries and applications where heat transfer fluids are applied.

To review a more comprehensive list of applications and equipment utilizing heat transfer fluids, click here.

FAQs about Plastic Injection Molding Temperature Control

Why control the temperature?

Many of the plastic injection molding and plastic blowmolding applications require even and precise control of temperature in order to successfully fabricate small compact–or intricate–components and finished products.    In many cases, “hot spots” or areas of localized heating from electric heating elements will not provide enough precision or even-temperature, in order to ensure that the product is of the best quality throughout.

How can you control the temperature?

There are a variety of ways that the temperature can be controlled when doing injection molding.  The best method is to utilize heat transfer fluids.  These are now the standard in the industry.  Molding machines, extruders, and reservoirs can be heated and cooled to exact temperatures via heat transfer fluids.  If they are applied at a controlled rate and circulated around the element being heated, they are very useful in precisely maintaining temperatures.

What are heat transfer fluids?

Water is the most common fluid, but sometimes it isn’t the best, especially in very high temperature situations.   There are other options (non-aqueous fluids) that are best for very high or even low temperature applications.  As well there are fluids that are better suited for either indirect heating or even for cooling (extracting heat from) the molds.

These fluids pass easily through the many small flow passage areas of molds and dies used in the plastics industry.  The fluids are not corrosive and are thermally stable as long as they are used within their applicable temperature ranges.

When should heat transfer fluids be used?

Heat transfer fluids can be used in almost every part of the manufacture of plastic materials and synthetic fibers.  When operating temperatures preclude a fluid like water, an engineered heat transfer fluid should be specified for operating temperatures ranging from -150 degrees F to 400 degrees F.  In addition, when the operating temperatures reach as high as 550 degrees F, specialized high-temperature heat transfer fluids should be used.  Various cooling and heating fluids can operate in temperatures that range from minus -40 degrees F to 550 degrees F.

What other industries besides plastics use these fluids?

Industries such as Adhesives, Textiles, Food Processing and Chemical can utilize heat transfer fluids.

For more detailed discussion about hot oils in plastics manufacturing processes, see…

Hot Oil Temperature Control in Plastics Applications; Operations and Troubleshooting

 

Employee Spotlight: Ray Klim, Food Industry Specialist

At Paratherm, our success lies not only in the quality of our products, but in the people we employ.  They are the heart and soul of our business.  Here, we’d like to spotlight one member of our team, a Food Industry Specialist who represents the passion, commitment, and expertise that makes our employees—and our company—who we are.Ray Klim

Ray Klim, an industry veteran and proud father of five adult children (and incidentally, a jazz guitarist with a particular fondness for George Benson) came to Paratherm about a year ago, and has been an illustrative example of the type of person Paratherm stands for.  It seems he, too, feels this way, as he says “It is a pleasure at Paratherm. I’ve had a long history in the industry, and this is by far the best job and the one I’ve enjoyed more than any of them.”  This shows in both his work and how he talks about it, with pride, energy, and excitement.

Ray came to us after working in the food industry his entire adult life, having been at Domino Sugars and then Newlyweds Foods, the largest producer of coating systems for the meat and poultry industry, where he spent 17 years. In short, he knows the industry as well as he knows the fingerboard of his Gibson 6-string. In addition to years of professional experience, he’s taken part in several continuing education courses over the years, including Introduction to Food Technology at RutgersUniversity.

So what is his role as Food Industry Specialist for Paratherm?  He partners with all of the country’s leading poultry processing firms to ensure their systems are running productively, runs support and training for them when necessary, evaluates their volume frying, grilling, and oven systems, and identifies and corrects any problems.  He tests and reviews their food-grade heat transfer fluids, both individually at the plant level and at a corporate level, ensuring the maximum safety and efficiency of the product and the highest level of quality to both the processor and the consumer.  When speaking about the fact that Paratherm is integrated into over 90% of the poultry further-processing market, and on the subject of our quality standards, he is passionate, and that he truly loves his job is evident.

Looking ahead, Ray says that maintaining that high standard while introducing the efficiency and uniformity of indirect heating (and Paratherm expertise) to other markets such as seafood, red meat, and snacks, broadening our approach, and being more active globally are some of his goals and focus points.

It’s clear that Ray is proud of the work he does, and we’re proud to have him as part of our team.