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Electric Heat Gives Distributor Trucks the Power to Improve Operations

Paving Pro, June 2016

Distributor trucks may easily be viewed as unglamorous workhorses of paving fleets. Their typical functions are to provide heated asphalt or emulsion spray as tack coating in front of a hot mix paver or to spread heated binder for chip seal projects. In simplest terms, a distributor truck comprises a cab, a tank, a form of heat and a spray system for applying the binder.

Accurate heat is one real key to the binder's success, whether the material is emulsion or asphalt. Traditionally, heat is provided to the distributor material via burners that operate on #2 fuel oil, diesel or LP gas. The operator lights the burner or burners, and heat begins to circulate through flues in the bottom of the tank to bring the binder up to the right temperature. Although the process is relatively simple, there are some inherent issues with this form of distributor truck heat that include safety concerns, reduced productivity, compromised asphalt or emulsion quality and higher operating costs.

To read the entire article as published in Paving Pro, Click Here.

To read the entire article on www.mypavingpro.com, Click Here.


PHCo Receives Top 30 Editor's Choice Award for Second Consecutive Year

Asphalt Contractor, May 2016

Process Heating Company's Lo-Density® Rigid Tubular Drywell Tank Heater for asphalt and emulsion distributor trucks was recently selected by Asphalt Contractor magazine as a 2016 Top 30 Editor's Choice Award recipient. In making its selection of award recipients, the publication's editorial staff looked at a set of criteria that included the characteristics of durability, increased productivity, innovation and ease of use. The chosen products all are designed to help contractors get the job done faster, better, easier, safer and more profitably. PHCo's electric distributor truck heater was chosen as one of the industry's preferred products based on the publication's criteria, as well as feedback from asphalt construction equipment owners and end users.

Electric heaters provide a more efficient and safe form of heat for asphalt and emulsion distributor truck tanks than fossil-fuel-fired systems.  With an electric heater bringing the asphalt to the correct temperature, operators can:

  • Raise productivity – plug it in to keep emulsions and asphalt at the optimal temperature overnight. Crews arrive in the morning, and off they go.
  • Increase safety – no concerns with the lighting of diesel or LPG burners.
  • Improve asphalt/emulsion quality – low-watt density heaters dissipate controlled heat on the sheath to deliver even distribution with no coking or damage – or ever having to drain and clean the tank and flue.
  • Reduce operating costs – electric heat requires significantly less energy to maintain asphalt/emulsion temperatures, versus LPG or diesel burners that must continually raise the material to the correct temperature.
  • Enhance sustainability – no flues, no stacks, no emissions.

This is the third year Asphalt Contractor's editorial staff has chosen its Top 30 products. Additional information on 2016 award recipients can be found in the May 2016 issue of Asphalt Contractor and online at ForConstructionPros.com.


Electrify Your Plant's Heat Efficiency: PHCo's Research-Based Article Is Featured In The January Issue Of AsphaltPRO

January 2016

With the costs of doing business on the rise and energy in flux, an asphalt producer should consider any measure he can take to improve the bottom line. The method and efficiency of a plant's heat – for asphalt and hot oil – are areas that often are overlooked. But energy costs contribute significantly to the operating costs of an HMA plant, and fuel choices can impact producers in more ways than just cost.

Operators often choose a method of heat based on current energy prices, but the cost of natural gas, LP gas, fuel oils and electricity have all fluctuated over the years. Just seven years ago, electricity was far cheaper to use as an energy source for heat than other fossil fuels. Today, natural gas is less expensive.

Given the volatility of these variables, how can a producer make the best energy choice for heating asphalt cement (AC) and hot oil?

When choosing an AC heating method, it's important to look at the entire picture. Cost-per-unit of energy to heat AC and emulsions is certainly part of the puzzle, but it is not the only cost. Also important is the heater's thermal efficiency. According to Heatec Inc.'s Technical Paper T-140, "Heating and Storing Asphalt at HMA Plants," a small difference in efficiency can make a big difference in how much fuel a heater burns over its lifetime.

Most fossil-fuel-fired burners operate at 80 to 85 percent efficiency when new. So at best, 15 to 20 percent of the burner's heat is wasted as exhaust. With age, the burner's efficiency drops. Also, fuel-fired asphalt heaters are maintenance-intensive. If the proper maintenance and tuning are not conducted to keep the efficiency up, then the efficiency drops even more dramatically. In fact, by the time the burner is seven to eight years old, this efficiency can easily be at only 50 to 60 percent, meaning that up to 50 percent of the heat is wasted as exhaust.

An electric-powered asphalt tank or hot oil heater, in comparison, operates at 100 percent efficiency with no heat or emissions exhausted into the air. And over the lifetime of the heater, that efficiency never drops.

To read the entire AsphaltPRO article, complete with research data and efficiency equivalence costs for different energy forms, Click Here.


Lo-Density® Unitized Storage Tank Heaters Named To Asphalt Contractor Top 30 Editor's Choice Awards for 2015

April 2015

Process Heating Company's Lo-Density® Unitized Storage Tank Heater was recently selected by Asphalt Contractor magazine as a 2015 Top 30 Editor's Choice Award recipient. In making their selection for award recipients, the Asphalt Contractor editorial staff looked at a set of criteria that included longevity and consistency in the market, dependability, productivity and innovation. The Unitized Heater was chosen as one of the industry's preferred products based on feedback from asphalt construction equipment owners and end users, as well.

Process Heating Company's Lo-Density® Unitized Storage Tank Heaters can be installed into any above-ground tank or vat, and dissipate controlled heat as low as three watts per square inch on the heater's sheath to prevent coking or damaging of temperature-sensitive material such as asphalt emulsions. Unitized Heaters feature Process Heating Company's drywell-style elements that reside inside the sheath, making them accessible from outside of the tank and eliminating the need to drain the tank to service the elements. Electric heat offers 100% energy efficiency because all of the energy is used to heat, when compared to the inefficient burning of fossil fuels. Each heating unit is designed for the individual application, and can be customized to meet the specific needs of the manufacturer or user for sheath diameter, number of elements and sheath length, or applications such as extreme temperatures, increased amperage or specialty metals.

Electric heat is safe, consistent and friendly to the environment because it heats without combustion or emissions, and it eliminates a source of fuel spills. Electric heat eliminates stacks that must be monitored for emissions, along with eliminating air quality and boiler permits that must be pursued and maintained. Additionally, Unitized Heaters can be interfaced and coordinated with other plant electrical equipment so that the load of the heaters can be reduced to base rates, thus preventing increased demand charges or peak-use rates and lowering consumption cost.

"Equipment is the lifeblood of our readers' businesses – the right equipment choices can mean the difference between a profit or a loss on a project," says Lisa Cleaver, Asphalt Contractor editor. "Every asphalt contractor has his or her favorite piece of equipment. Some pieces of equipment have proven their prowess for adding profits. Others are popular for their ease of use and high productivity. And then there are those exciting new introductions which offer the latest innovations. To honor those products which achieve these ideals, we offer this year's Top 30 Editor's Choice Awards." Additional information on 2015 award recipients can be found in the May 2015 issue of Asphalt Contractor and online at www.ForConstructionPros.com.


PHCo Provides A Power-Generating Facility With Quick Turnaround On A Custom Fuel-Heating Solution

October 2014

Process Heating Company (PHCo) was recently contacted by a power-generating facility that was facing a fuel-heating challenge for its combustion turbine. With cold weather approaching, the facility required quick turnaround on a custom solution.

The power facility uses heated naphtha, a volatile petroleum distillate similar to gasoline, to run its combustion turbine. Up until this fall, the facility had received its heated naphtha from a refinery that was conveniently located next door, but the refinery was scheduled to close. The power facility located another fuel source, but because of the cold climate and the fact that the naphtha is now being trucked in from another location and stored in a non-heated tank, the facility needed a system that could heat the fuel prior to use.

A standard, just-off-the-shelf unit wouldn't work for this application. The required heating unit had to be much larger than most electric fuel preheating units to accommodate for the high flow rate and large temperature rise.

In just 18 weeks from the initial contact, PHCo was able to design and build a custom Electric Fuel Preheating unit that would heat the fuel as it flowed from the storage tank into the turbine.

The system utilizes PHCo's ETL-Listed low-watt density drywell-style heating elements, mounted in an ASME-coded, stainless steel (for low temp) in-line vessel, with a complete NEMA 7, U.L.-Listed temperature control system. All of the components are skid-mounted and pre-wired for a complete standalone package. 

To learn how PHCo can quickly design and build a custom electric heating unit for your specific application, contact Rick Jay at (866) 682-1582.


Perform Simple Electric Heat Maintenance

Asphalt Pro Magazine, November 2009

Process Heating Co., Seattle, Wash., specializes in low watt density, dry well style immersion heaters for heating temperature-sensitive products. For the asphalt industry, this means the manufacturer can provide a heating system where low watt density elements keep the sheath temperature decreased, reducing damage to the liquid asphalt cement (AC) and keeping build-up/coking to a minimum in both asphalt tanks and hot oil systems. The dry well design allows personnel to remove and perform maintenance on the heating elements without draining the tank they're heating, according to Rick Jay, Process Heating president. An intriguing aspect to the electric heating elements that Jay pointed out is the lack of moving or wear parts, making maintenance a simple issue. "Dry wells are heavy gauge steel pipe or tubing for industrial duty, "Jay said."An annual electrical 'check up' is all that is needed. Service personnel need to check for electrical operation, test fuses and tighten connections. Many customers' forget we are there' instead of having our parts department on their speed dial." That doesn't mean Jay lets customers forget about regular maintenance. From good operation best practices to proper maintenance, Process Heating Co. offers clients a manual full of practical guidelines. Jay highlighted some of the points not to be missed. For instance, when operating electric heaters, personnel should set the indicating temperature control to the desired process temperature. The high limit control for process temperature sensing will disconnect power to the heaters if an "over-temperature" occurs. The high limit setpoint should be approximately 20 to 25 degrees F above the process temperature. When the temperature returns to below the high limit setpoint, the power will return to the heating circuit, which allows the heaters to come on. However, a red high-limit reset pushbutton will stay illuminated until personnel manually reset it. This indicates to personnel that there was a high-limit occurrence, allowing them to investigate the cause. Some of the reasons for an over-temperature include:

                   a thermocouple failure on the main temperature controller;

                   "over ranging" of the main temperature;

                   temperature controller setting is higher than the hi-limit controller setting;

                   the main temperature controller is out of calibration;

                   the hi-limit controller is out of calibration; or

                   the heater magnetic contactor is locked in the closed position because of "welded" contacts or mechanical binding.

The way to keep electric heating elements in tip top shape and to avoid over-temperatures is to perform regularly scheduled maintenance. Jay called attention to the following steps for best maintenance practices.  

                   Periodically check all wiring connections in the electrical control panel to be sure they are tight and free of oxidation.

                   Periodically check contacts on the contactors for wear. Replace any contactor that is worn.

                   The tank interior should be cleaned at regular intervals.

                   Check the tank's insulation regularly. Insulation tends to break down over time, thus costing dollars in lost efficiency.

Not every plant takes advantage of electric heat, but those that do have an opportunity to enhance this element's efficiency through basic, routine maintenance. With professionals such as the engineers at Process Heating Co., plant personnel have an industry partner to turn to for guidance in this simple arena.

 For more information, contact Rick Jay at Process Heating at (866)682-1582 or visit www. processheating.com.


A Hot Solution - F & R Asphalt beats fuel prices by adding an electric heater to its asphalt plant

Asphalt Contractor April/May 2009

When fuel prices skyrocketed in the summer of 2008, many asphalt plants were scrambling for a solution to keep down diesel costs. F & R Asphalt, headquartedinEasley, SC, found one solution that did just that. F & R Asphalt produces between 500,000 and 800,000 tons of mix a year; the majority is used for DOT projects with some for commercial uses. In the summer of 2008, when diesel costs were running toward $4 a gallon, F & R decided to add a Process Heating Co. (PHCo) electric hot oil heater at its Gray Court, SC facility, which produces about 200,000 tons of asphalt annually. "We replumbed the unit ourselves," says Chris Faucett,  plant operator with F & R. "It wasn't a difficult installation; it probably took about three days." adding the electric heater to the tanks when fuel prices were so high cut the cost to heat the asphalt nearly in half, says Faucett. Rick Jay, president of PHCo, runs the numbers for an average plant: "fairly common size drum mix asphalt plant will require a 140kW heater," he explains. "This is adequate for two 30,000-gallon asphalt tanks and associated jacketed pumps,meters and asphalt lines. "For an asphalt plant using 75 gallons/day in the summer and 100 gallons/day in the winterwith diesel at a cost of $3.70, like it was in the summer of 2008 the fuel cost would be $277/day in summer and $370/day in winter. "The electric cost is about $0.11/KWwhich is typical, and even lower rates can be achieved using off peak hours and by controlling demandso with a 140kW heater running around4 hours/day (summer) and 6 hours/day (winter),the electric cost would be $62/day (summer) and $92/day (winter)."

 Best of both worlds at F & R, the plant still maintains itsdiesel-fired heater aswell asthe electric, so the plant can switch back and forth between the two,depending on which system will reap the most cost savings. "We have both heaters in place," says Faucett. "We installed the electric when fuel was nearly $4 a gallon. But we have the option to go back to the electric if fuel prices start creeping up again." F & R has installed a second electric heater at its Easley plant, which was just getting ready to go on line at this printing. Faucett has high expectations for the heater. "I feel it will have similar results," he says.  "Our Gray's Court unit has been running for six months and we've had no problems.  An electricheater is more dependable and there's definitely less maintenance than with a diesel-fired system."


Tubular Heaters Maintain Oil Temperatures During Downtime Or Prior To Startup

TAPPI Journal, May 2001

Process Heating Co., based in Seattle, WA., has developed rigid tubular heaters. These heaters are used as part of a paper machine lube oil system and in hydraulic reservoirs to maintain oil temperatures during downtimes for maintenance or to increase oil temperatures to a workable point prior to startup.

The heaters can be installed as new or as replacement equipment for existing Calrod-style tubular units; the Calrod units are of higher-watt density and can result in oil choking. Process Heating's rigid heaters allow ease of replacement; they do not require machine downtime when being replaced. Furthermore, time-consuming oil draining is not required, and the heaters' low-watt density protects oil from damage. Rigid units of this design allow the heating elements to be equally spaced across the base of the reservoir for even heat distribution.


Heavy Duty Drywell Heaters and Replacement Elements

Process Heating, June 2000

Lo-Density---A Big Plus The large heater surface area is designed with a predetermined low watt density (watts/sq.in.), giving low sheath temperature to avoid choking, buildup or material damage. Elements are ETL-listed and carry a five-year warranty. Tubes utilize 3" schedule 40 black iron pipe, but 2" and 4" sizes are available as well as other sheath materials including stainless steel and Inconel. UL-listed control panels are standard. Replacement pipe insert elements, 2' to 40' can be custom sized and match both heating requirements and tank dimensions with single or three phase elements. Constructed of nickel chromium alloy coils, they have patented ceramic insulators. Elements can be flexed to a minimum radius of 24" in confined areas. PHCo elements are for new applications or replacing existing pipe insert elements.


Cities Step up Efficiency

Reprinted from Asphalt Contractor Magazine

December 2000

Maintenance programs get a boost from patching machine.

When it comes to street maintenance, the old fashioned method of taking a truck full of hot mix and a shovel out to patch a pothole seems to be losing popularity. From the truck-size pothole patching units to trailers and boxes that fit existing equipment, crews find that efficient maintenance programs keep the complaint line form ringing off the wall.

Besides keeping mix hot and workers safe, dumping old pothole patching methods also increases the efficiency of the maintenance crews for the cities to be mentioned here. Each has its own pavement maintenance program, but all incorporate comments from the motoring public. To keep those customers from constantly ringing the phone, crews have to be quick about their work.

In the City of Savage, Minn., the Street Preservation Program focuses on a set 6 or 7 miles (9.7 or 11.3km) of city streets each year, according to Frank Gaillard, assistant public works director for the city. He explains that the maintenance work on those miles includes milling, overlays, pothole patching, and curb and gutter repairs, among others. One of the city's other programs involves a twice-yearly street-sweeping program. "Especially in the early spring," says Gaillard. "When you've got all salt-sand on the road, our street foreman goes behind the sweepers and makes notes of all the potholes in the city and develops an early list." Gaillard points out two benefits of this program. "The streets are clean right off the bat, and we can get them repaired before the phones start ringing."

Gaillard explains that crews used to perform pothole patching with the truck bed full of mix and a man with a shovel. About three years ago, the city purchased an electric asphalt-paving unit from Process Heating Co. Inc., Seattle. Now the crews can confine the mix in the heated box of the Patch King and can deploy the material via an augering system in the bottom of the unit.

Maintenance crews in the City of West Allis also use on of these units, but have a different maintenance program set up for finding the potholes to be repaired. Gordy Paprocki, with the City of West Allis, explains that the maintenance programs in his area incorporate official and public inspectors. "We do have a regular maintenance program where a couple of asphalt patch units are out on the street throughout the year, taking care of those issues," says Paprocki. The city also has street department supervisors who are in charger of watching out for potholes and other maintenance items. "Also, the public is encouraged to call the public works yard if they spot some nasty potholes that need to be taken care of."

The City of Louisville also encourages the public to call in to a pothole hotline when they encounter a problem. "As the calls or complaints are received about potholes, they are filtered through our system and the streets and roads division of the public works department," says Chester Denny, equipment procurement analyst for the City of Louisville. "They (public works department) assign the work."

Denny explains that there is a crew assigned to each of the automatic wards (districts) in the City of Louisville, and each crew has its own Patch King unit. "We use one truck in each ward, and its responsibility is to fix the potholes in that automatic council or district."

Repairing potholes leaves a safer, smoother surface for the motoring public, but crews have to practice safety when making repairs. Proper work zone signage and cones make a world of difference in safety when a motorists approach a pothole patching operation. But workers can be at risk from more than just traffic. Hot asphalt loaded into the back of the truck can come tumbling down when a worker scoops out a shovelfull. As Donny Murillo, a driver for King County, Washington State, points out, using a box or unit to contain the hot mix is a safe practice. He operates a Patch King unit equipped with an augering system for deploying mix. "It's V-shaped in design, and it just augers the mix out the back onto a chute," says Murillo. "It's a really safe machine."

Gaillard explains that in the City of Savage, workers manufactured their own kind of shoveling tray off the back end of their unit. "It came with a chute," says Gaillard. "We built ourselves a little material shoveling tray off the back where the guys can just place the material in the hole more accurately and in the proper quantity."

Gaillard explains that the chute functions as more than just a safety measure for his crews. "We use the chute if we're going to do some asphalt curbing," he says. "Then the material will just roll down and make a nice little windrow of asphalt that we can dress off and have our curb." Keeping things moving quickly and safely is a priority for these cities. With the old method of pothole patching losing popularity, the use of new heat-retaining, safe equipment is catching on.

PHCo and Leeboy - An Electrifying Partnership

If efficiency is what you're after when it comes to spraying asphalt material, has the truck for you. It's Maximizer series provides a completely automatic operation putting the driver in control right from the comfort of his cab. All it takes is one switch to control the spray or bar circulation.

A third advantage is when you're through for the day, the use of efficient Process Heating Company heaters, allows you to simply plug it in and you're ready to start the next day with a truck with already heated material. This allows for maximum safety and reliability back at the yard all night long.

These two leaders in the industry have joined forces to provide you with truly an electrifying combination, one that is sure to work for you.