Category Archive: heat tracing

Heat Trace Insulation in Oil and Gas Applications

Heat tracing—sometimes also called trace heating—is a system in which a heating element is run along the length of a pipe in order to prevent its contents from freezing. The heating element and pipe are often wrapped in thermal insulation to prevent heat loss and allow the heat tracing to operate more efficiently.

Even in locations where there is no risk of pipes freezing, some applications require that liquid in pipes be heated to a certain temperature. Heat tracing can be used to keep temperatures steady all along a system of pipes.

Importance in Oil/Gas Applications

Heat tracing is a valuable tool in the petroleum industry. The equipment used to produce, process, and store oil needs to be kept at certain temperatures for peak performance, and so requires a heating solution to maintain optimal thermal levels. Additionally, when oil and natural gas are first being extracted from the ground, high temperatures are used to bring them to the surface.

Oil and gas refineries exist in nearly all localities and climates, so the equipment used for refining and distributing oil and gas products needs to be winterized at many facilities. There are other uses of heat tracing in the oil and gas industry as well, such as during exploration and throughout many stages of production.

Heat tracing is used heavily during the processing of gas, heavy oils, synfuels, and petrochemicals. This method keeps the refinement process running smoothly, and it is often used in storage terminals to control the temperature of the product.

Importance of Insulation on a Heat Trace

Insulation is also a key component of temperature control in oil and gas applications. In addition to maintaining equipment temperatures, insulation helps to:

  • Reduce thermal loss
  • Increase efficiency
  • Improve process by temperature regulation

Key Examples of Product Applications from Firwin

Firwin provides a range of products that assist in temperature regulation of oil and gas pipelines. This includes:

  • Valve Covers

Upstream equipment is often exposed to harsh conditions, especially extreme heat, cold, and chemicals. Our valve covers will keep your equipment sealed and secure.valve insulation

  • Flanges

To keep equipment at the right temperature and reduce heating and/or cooling costs, our ThermoWrap removable insulation blankets are custom designed to cover flanges of all shapes and sizes. All of our blankets come with highly secure fastening systems and are made of durable materials that can be used for years.

  • Vessels/Manways

Safety is a key concern in any operation. Hot piping causes severe burns when exposed to skin, so it is vital that the outer cover temperatures be kept under control. Our vessel and manway covers help protect your employees.manway insulation

  • Instrumental Panels

Our instrumental panel covers provide excellent heat retention. Our removable blankets reduce waste and save money when compared to hard insulation removal and reapplication.

The products that we provide are designed to wrap and protect even the most complicated upstream equipment. Our experienced staff is highly in tune with the needs of the oil and gas industry and we’ve designed our products with those needs in mind.

Temperature control is a vital for oil and gas applications and Firwin is here to provide the products you need. View our line of insulation products for the oil and gas industry here.

Can removable insulation blankets keep pipe contents from freezing ?

Removable insulation blankets are great at managing heat. Be it by lowering the ambient heat in an engine room, protecting workers from hot surfaces, or shielding pipe contents from cold external temperatures, removable insulation covers are often the solution of choice where heat must be managed, but permanent insulation is not feasible.

Gate Valve with Glycol Tracing,,
wrapped with Removable Insulation Blanket

But there is one thing that removable insulation blankets cannot do – they cannot add heat. “We often get asked, particularly in cold weather applications, if our blankets can keep pipe contents or components from freezing”, said Brett Herman, Firwin`s VP of Sales & Engineering. “The answer is that while we can contain heat and delay heat loss by sheltering pipe components from cold external temperatures, our insulation blankets can`t add any heat that isn`t already there.”

Where insulation blankets can help, however, is where companies have some sort of heat tracing on their piping, and they want to minimize the amount of heat lost to the environment, and thus maximize the efficiency of their heat tracing.

Heat Tracing Challenges

“Companies, particularly in the oil and gas industry, and often in other industries such as mining, chemical, and food processing, use heat tracing to keep pipe or container contents from freezing. In cold temperatures, this heat tracing, if left un-insulated, becomes much less effective. Firwin has done a number of applications in this area, covering the component and the heat tracing, increasing efficiency and lowering the heat that escapes to the environment”, added Brett.

Like other removable insulation blanket applications, a properly designed blanket is key to ensuring that the heat tracing is properly insulated. “There are various type of heat tracing in the marketplace today – steam, glycol, hot oil, and electric”, said Rael Herman, Firwin’s VP of Production & New Product Development.

“In some instances, the entire component in covered by a ‘bolt-on heat jacket, changing the entire geometry of the part”. What they all have in common is the need to be wrapped tightly, so as to minimize the amount of heat that is lost to the environment. The challenge, when it comes to insulation blankets, is to design a blanket that will account for the sometime difficult geometries and penetration access points that often come hand in hand with heat tracing”, said Rael.

Firwin Blanket custom designed to fit glycol penetrations

Other Solutions

What about situations where the customer is not familiar with heat tracing, or where heat tracing is not a viable option ? “We have done applications where we have incorporated a heat source into the insulation cover (see previous article on “pizza blankets“)”, notes Brett. “Regardless of who supplies the heat tracing, what’s important is ensuring that the the insulation blankets are designed in such a way as to tightly cover the components in question, while allowing for penetration points that typically accompany tracing of valves and similar components”.

For more information on removable insulation blankets and heat tracing, please contact Firwin.