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Guide to understanding heat transfer fluids

Heat transfer fluids (HTFs), like those provided by leading manufacturers such as Millers Oils and Castrol, are cleverly formulated liquids that are able to transfer heat from one machine part to another. These specialist fluids are employed in industrial processes where heating or cooling is necessary to obtain, and sometimes maintain, a specific steady temperature.

Sought-after properties in a dependable heat transfer fluid include low-viscosity levels in low temperatures, specific heat and a high level of thermal conductivity, low to non-toxicity, economical costs, eco-friendliness and a high flash point.

Why are there different kinds of heat transfer fluid?

Heat transfer fluids, for the most part, will be classified into three specific categories. These groups include high temperature fluids, medium temperature fluids and low temperature fluids. Typically, high temperature heat transfer fluids are employed for temperatures higher than 176.6°C and up to around 350°C.

Low temperature heat transfer fluids, on the other hand, are usually used at temperatures below 0°C to around -100°C. Certain chemistries may sometimes be employed as low temperature heat transfer fluids, like salt brines, silicone oils and hydrocarbons. Glycols such as propylene glycol, BioGlycol and ethylene glycol are employed to offer freeze protection levels below 0°C and are suitable for use up to around 176.6°C, providing they include an appropriate additive.

Processes where heat transfer fluids are used

In the plastic manufacturing business, heat transfer fluids are a regular requirement for processing nylon, the polymerisation and polycondensation of polyester, for making man-made fibres and for PET bottle blow moulding.

Heat transfer fluids can also be crucial for an extensive range of chemical manufacturer processes, including linear alkyl benzene, phthalic anhydride and dimethyl terephthalate, along with olefins, alcohols, plasticisers and olefins, among other types of dedicated petrochemicals.

Dedicated heat transfer fluids can deliver multiple advantages when used in different types of chilling, freezing, defrosting and dehumidifying operations. A wide range of producers for the food and beverage sector will employ heat transfer fluids to ensure products stay cool while being processed, like dairies, wineries and fruit farms.

Breweries also benefit from heat transfer fluids, as they can offer long-lasting and reliable performance through the provision of efficient refrigeration, which is necessary for both cooling and the secondary stage of fermentation.

In the pharmaceutical sector, heat transfer fluids with a broader temperature range are often required, as specific chemical reactions will need high temperatures and finished products that are crystalised will need exceptionally low temperatures to be effectively maintained.

For operations conducting gas processing, removing impurities is vital to mitigate fatal consequences. In its raw state, gas has many impurities, including H2S, CO2 and water, along with organic compounds that are volatile. All the impurities have to be successfully removed so gas can be utilised safely in equipment for processing. To keep the correct temperatures required for these impurity removal processes, heat transfer fluids are crucial.

For the best performance in any key processing operation, it is essential to always select the highest quality heat transfer fluids available for use.

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