Using a Thermal Fluid Heating System for Gas and Oil Processing

Recently, the United States has relaxed a nearly 40-year ban on oil exports, enabling companies to start selling U.S.-manufactured oil abroad. While the delivery of oil manufactured in the United States is unlikely to start until August, now is a great time to get acquainted with thermal-fluid heating systems and their application in the traditional energy sector.

Several natural gas processing plants utilize thermal-fluid heating systems to offer temperature control and precise, uniform heating in the amine sweetening process — a stage in the purification of natural gas which involves the removal of odorous sulfur.

In downstream petroleum processing, hot-oil systems are also used for controlling temperatures and for heat processes in applications such as finished lubricant blending, recycling, fractionation, and liquid terminals. Further upstream, the technology holds applications in heating for soil remediation, in addition to well testing and down-hole heat dissipation.

Advantages of Thermal Fluid

Whether it is for heating and blending liquids or purifying gas streams, thermal fluid can be a promising option instead of heating methods such as high-pressure steam. Enlisted below are a few of the benefits when compared, for example, to steam:

  • Environmental safety
  • Low maintenance
  • No flash losses, trap losses, or blow-down losses
  • Unpressurized closed-loop operation
  • Minimal corrosion

Ensuring Safety and Success of Thermal Fluid Systems

Reducing operator involvement, oversight, and inspection has a slight consequence; however, a system that needs very little attention can occasionally drift out of specifications and create undesirable surprises in the future.

The solution is to be proactive.

To guarantee the productive and safe functioning of a thermal fluid system, it is important to take specific steps such as training system operators and understanding the eventual degradation of fluid through oxidation and overheating. Moreover, routine maintenance is paramount in the productive uptime and safety of thermal fluid heating units. Hence, hot oil should be regularly analyzed and monitored to ensure the safety and success of petroleum and energy applications such as lubricants and natural gas processing.

Fluid selection is also crucial in maximizing the effectiveness of thermal fluids as a heating medium. Thermal fluids can be silicon oils, synthetic hydrocarbons, or highly refined petroleum based oils. When selecting an oil to use, factors such as environmental circumstances, safety, operating demands, thermal efficiency, and temperature limitations should be taken into account.


Thermal fluid systems will continue to play a vital role in the traditional and alternative energy processes. Furthermore, since the United States is an energy-rich nation and so many industries have developed their earlier “tight” reserves, gas and petroleum processing will continue to thrive in America. Moreover, processing, chemicals, and other downstream manufacturing industries using such feedstock will look at the future growth opportunities, thanks to increasing tight-oil and natural gas production and exportation.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Paratherm.

For more information on this source, please visit Paratherm.


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