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Heat tracing technology for the 21st century

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The fundamental concepts of electric heat tracing seem quite simple on the surface. However, anyone who has been involved in an electric heat tracing "design and build" project realizes the fallacy of this notion: pipes are not always surrounded by perfect insulation envelopes; the insulation envelope can often be interrupted by pipe supports and other appendages that result in heat sink effects; pipes and vessels are not solid structures; rather, they contain or are surrounded by fluids that can be in natural motion due to density gradients resulting from heating; pipes may be constructed of nonthermally conductive materials, such as plastics, which have significantly reduced heat transfer coefficients and reduced temperature use ranges. and large diameter metallic pipes can have significant gradients around the circumference due to the lack of symmetry of the applied electric heating. This article looks at some of these not-so-straightforward aspects of electric heat tracing and demonstrate how these applications are being mastered due to advancements in engineering technology for the 21st century. In particular the article discusses the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to the problems of heat tracing. CFD improves the accuracy of information supplied in applications and reduces conservative approaches fostered by the lack of definitive information

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Industry Applications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 1 )