Posts tagged heat transfer fluids

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

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.


June 2016 will witness the celebration of National Safety Month in the USA. It is a tradition that focuses on the importance of pre-emptive and cautionary actions at the workplace so that employees can give their best without falling victim to practices which compromise their security and their well-being. Over four weeks of high-quality free resources are offered to businesses all over the country in an attempt to educate decision makers about the importance of worker safety so that they, in turn, can invest in the right gear, design, and equipment to avoid personal injury—and its consequences.

Fire Safety is a Big Issue: 

Every year the National Safety Month (NSM) chooses a specific focus. And even though 2016 is not about fire prevention, in factories that use hot-oil systems for heat transfer the month is a great reminder to review care of the entire system, and revisit the best maintenance practices that can minimize fire risk.

Paratherm has been a market leader in the sector of high-temperature heat transfer fluids for years, and our team of experienced engineers has evaluated hundreds of hot-oil systems and processes to come up with a few suggestions;

• Leaks. High-temperature heat transfer fluids tend to have relatively high flash points, but when they leak from a system—typically from seals, flex hoses, or piping joints—fire can result.
• Proper ventilation is a key advantage, especially if the heater is located inside the factory building. Adequate ventilation prevents build-up of the required volume of fuel vapors to allow ignition and nips the fire problem in the bud.
• Insulation. Porous insulation materials, unless properly specified and installed, can increase the risk of spontaneous combustion.
• System components. For example, in general all valves should be installed with their stems facing side-ways so that bleeds and leaks can drip away from the pipes and the system.
• See below links for detailed coverage of these advisories.

Paratherm Is an Active Advocate of Fire Prevention and National Safety Month:

Paratherm offers fluid selection advice, and system safety consulting to hot-oil heat transfer system operators and also provides intensive training to help hot-oil-system operators in process industries, asphalt batch plants, and industrial laundries turn thermal oil systems into fire-free zones. Visit the below links for more details.

User’s Guide Technical Data Sheets

Preventing Fires in Thermal Oil heat Transfer Systems (Revised May, 2016)
Flash and Fire Points in Hot Oil Systems (Revised October, 2015)

Blogs and Articles

Paratherm’s Blog Series (3-Parts) on Preventing Insulation Fires
How To Build a Reliable, Practically Leak Free Thermal Fluid System (Process Heating Magazine)

Paratherm Thermal Fluid System Training

Services: Hot Oil System Training from Paratherm


National Safety Month

Housing Construction Expected to be Strong This Year

According to a 2016 housing forecast at, home sales this year are likely to reach the highest levels in a decade. Rises in new-home construction and existing home sales are both expected to push total home sales to the highest levels since 2006.

Building materials should be in high demand, so the industries that produce them— forestry, milling, roofing, wiring and plumbing goods, among others—should thrive as well.

But lumber isn’t just milled timber anymore. Engineered woods, made partly from natural cellulosic materials and byproducts, combined with manufactured components such as resins and adhesives, are increasingly important, with ever improving features, benefits, and performance characteristics.

Engineered wood has become popular for a multitude of reasons. Oriented strand board(OSB), medium density fiber(MDF), paneling, plywood and other types of wood-based building products increasingly help contribute to modern construction projects. Engineered wood products are often times compared to steel because of their surface quality and are even specified for jobs over traditional lumber due to enhanced strength and durability.

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

OSB (Oriented Strand Board)

So, we’re all clear that manufactured building materials are key players when contributing to sound construction, but how do heat transfer fluids apply?

Engineered wood is simply that: engineered, or man-made. It isn’t wood that comes from chopping down a tree in your backyard. This type of pre-planned wood is designed with specifications in mind to meet the standards—stability, durability, compressibility, etc—of the specified material.

This kind of specialty wood is made by the binding of materials. Continuous or batched mats of compacted wood, strips, particles or veneers are fused together with an adhesive utilizing a thermal-oil-heated press, at a temperature of around 425ºF.

“It’s a demanding process,” says Jim Oetinger, Paratherm’s director of technology. “The hot oil can maintain those temperatures without the extreme pressures you would need with steam so virtually every engineered-wood plant is using thermal oil these days. “

“However the oil can start to degrade and cause sludge buildups in the platens” Says Oetinger. “The problem is that the operators don’t realize that this is happening until the cold spots start to affect product quality. Eventually the platens have be cleaned which requires a complete system shutdown.”

To avoid that downtime, Paratherm’s maintenance programs, using hot-oil lab analysis, comparative fluid baselines, historical data, and plant operator interviews, keep the cold spots from developing, and the process and equipment within specs. At the very least, downtime can be scheduled during regular, expected shutdowns.

Paratherm HE is a durable natural hydrocarbon-based heat transfer fluid used in applications such as the creation of the engineered wood discussed above. Because safety, upkeep, and operation are crucial components of large applications, technical support for heat thermal fluids and accompanying equipment are necessary for general plant management and maintenance.

At the beginning of April we were given the opportunity to exhibit our capabilities at the 4th Wood Bioenergy Conference and Expo, followed by the 5th Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference and Expo (PELICE). Read more about the event here. In past years, both symposiums have attracted 300+ industry professionals to share in on industry knowledge and presentations, with 75 equipment and technology exhibitors to speak to the various kind of specialty wood and their composite breakdowns.

With this year’s Expos under our belts we are looking forward to jumping into field projects for the industry and upcoming construction season. In need of high-quality heat thermal fluids for the making of your engineered wood? Contact the professionals at Paratherm today. Staff members are on standby ready to answer any questions or help you complete any processes you may have.

New Year + New Location = Streamlined Operations

We are officially settled into our new headquarters building located at 2009 Renaissance Boulevard, King of Prussia, PA. We briefly touched on the move in our end of year blog posted Dec. 30th and are excited to report that the move went smoothly… We haven’t missed a beat!

Paratherm's New Headquarters
2009 Renaissance Blvd., King of Prussia PA — USA

The new headquarter location allows us to continue to do what we do best—proactively respond to the needs of our customers. When it comes to indirect heating applications, we are the company that process industry professionals rely on for the highest levels of products, expertise, and assistance. The features of our new facility will allow us to be even more efficient and productive.

Our new space includes modern facilities to interact with customers in person and through electronic communication systems. A presentation auditorium and meeting facilities will enable us to comfortably invite in groups for demonstrations, using the latest in large display screens. This also allows us to include off-site groups through the use of state-of-the-art webcams.

Fish-eye view of Paratherm HQ Interior

Fish-eye lens shows presentation and meeting area soon after the move

The new lab space is twice the size of the lab at previous locations. It has been upgraded with new automated testing equipment that results in increased test options and faster testing which offers improved accuracy, wider performance ranges, and improved repeatability. In order to provide more information to our customers for better decision making, we are currently working on improvements to our report presentation and formats so that customers have access to our data and results.

Shot along lab bench showing instruments and vapor hood

New laboratory, twice the size of previous

We’re still committed to fast supply, responding when emergencies happen, and helping prevent problems by designing feedback systems to monitor and measure the vitals to keep processes at optimum, and give warning when action is needed.  that continuously monitoring the thermal fluid in your systems to maintain proper temperatures. Fluids, cleaners, and additives from Paratherm are engineered for optimum machine performance, but if you do experience unplanned downtime, we will respond quickly to troubleshoot the problem and get you the products and data you need to keep production running. And as part of the global Lubrizol team we have stocking locations throughout North America, and on five other continents.

Paratherm’s new official contact information is:

2009 Renaissance Boulevard
King of Prussia, PA 19046 USA
Tel: +1 (610) 941-4900

We are fortunate to have a wonderful team of professionals ready to make this new home a place for customers to explore Paratherm’s outstanding product lines, while maintaining our dedication to serving our customers. We are excited to welcome you all to our new space! Contact us ASAP to plan a visit!

Illustration of Building and Moving Van

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!

IPPE 2015 Has Arrived!

In manufacturing, it’s not just about making quality products. In order to stay ahead, it’s important to get out there, interact with clients and peers, and stay on top of all industry trends.

This is especially true in the manufacturing of heat transfer fluids. Our products are always on the cutting edge of technology, and innovation drives us. To this end, we feel it’s crucial to try to attend all relevant trade shows and conferences. That way we can not only present our products, but get direct feedback, learn from industry leaders, and work on our goal of continuous improvement.

As a result, we’re extremely excited about the upcoming International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE), taking place January 27-29 in Atlanta.
IPPE is the renowned exhibition that combines The International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo, and International Meat Expo—encompassing the entire protein production and processing chain. The last show saw over 26,000 attendees from around the world; all gathering to view 1,180 exhibitors’ products while learning about the latest technology. In fact, IPPE continues to be the largest assembly of its kind.

For Paratherm, this presents an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate our products and solutions while learning more in the process. Our food-grade heat transfer fluids are used by countless clients throughout the food manufacturing and processing industries, and relied on for their precision, quality, efficiency, and safety.

At the expo, we expect to interact with various members of the food processing industry, from equipment manufacturers to poultry further processors—and many in between. We look forward to demonstrating our unique products and capabilities, our trusted services and safety features, and our proven record of increasing process uptime.

We especially look forward to interacting with our clients—both new and longtime—and sharing what we’ve been up to since the last expo. We expect IPPE 2015 to be the best one yet, and look forward to seeing many of you there!

Paratherm’s Troubleshooting Services

At Paratherm, not only do we provide our customers with the highest quality heat transfer fluids, but we assure their continued functionality through simple, effective troubleshooting services.  Paratherm customers receive technical support as a benefit of their fluid purchase.  We sat down with Greg Jerdan, an employee who has been in technical sales with Paratherm for over eight years, to go over the process of troubleshooting.

The first step in the process, said Greg, is a phone interview, where we ask what kind of problem you are having (production problems, flow issues, heating issues, the heating process itself, or heating the oil specifically).  This can tell us where the problem exists and whether the oil itself is bad or if there may be a carbon buildup in the heater.

Sometimes we can pinpoint a problem simply from this preliminary interview.  For instance, there have been circumstances where we have been able to quickly recognize symptoms of flow restrictions and suggest possible remedies.  That’s just one example.

If the potential problem doesn’t emerge from the first conversation, we recommend a fluid analysis.  While some customers might initially turn this down, we highly recommend it as an easy—yet thorough—way to isolate and evaluate the several variables that may be causing the issue.  Without testing the oil we can’t always confirm what’s going wrong with the oil or the process.  We send the customer a fluid analysis kit that consists of everything needed to package and ship the sample, including instructions.  Then they simply box it up, send it back to us, and we run tests on the oil.

Results of the tests (for Total Acid Number, Viscosity, and Distillation Range) are compared to values for new fluid.  Differences between the new and used values, and interrelationships between those changes to the fluid, together with information from the system interview, can tell us much about what may be going wrong in the process.


Another troubleshooting service is a face-to-face walk-through, where we examine the system and look through all parts and equipment involved with the process itself, and make recommendations based on what we see; 9 times out of 10 we see something affecting the life of the oil.  No matter what, our experts can always help determine the problem, the cause, and the solution.

What are some possible problems that can affect production, safety, and uptime?

  • Heat uniformity: Cold spots in the system where heat transfer to the application has become compromised; most often it is because of carbon buildup.
  • Flow fluctuations: May result from contamination (including water) or fluid degradation.
  • Fouling: Due to oxidation or overheating of the oil; this is determined by the fluid analysis.
  • Leakage: Leakage can also cause oxidation.
  • Overheating:  A lack of proper flow can shut down the pump and cause overheating inside the heater.
  • Improper shutdown procedure: If the system is not shut down correctly, the fluid can get “cooked”; proper shutdown involves turning the heat off but keeping the pump on until the fluid temperature reaches below 200°F to prevent overheating.
  • Contamination: 90% of the time, water is the contaminant; other contaminants include using the wrong type of fluid, including lube, hydraulic, or improperly marked fluids.


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Unsubmerged Info Post #1

Business Technology is another area we wish to comment upon occasionally in this blog. We will interpret this term broadly. Tools and techniques to enable business objectives? Sounds good to us.