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What Is Steam Tracing: A Complete Guide

Steam tracing is essential for proper industrial temperature regulation. If process media change temperature, you run the risk of having them solidify or separate altogether. This can negatively impact the manufacturing process if not prevented. 

In this article, we discuss the importance of steam tracing systems and the benefits of steam heat kits. Continue reading to find out why your company needs to employ steam tracing systems. 

Definition of Steam Tracing

Steam tracing is a specific type of heat tracing intended for industrial temperature regulation. To maintain temperature, steam is circulated around the pipe that holds the liquid. This is a common technique in chemical manufacturing plants. 

Reasons for Steam Tracing

One of the reasons for using steam tracing systems is to prevent certain process media from solidifying such as wax or water. This is especially important during stopped production when the process media isn’t actively moving. This is also beneficial to prevent separation, which is often caused by cool temperatures. 

Steam tracing systems also help prevent damage to pipes. In cold temperatures, pipes can become rigid and more easily broken. With steam tracing, the pipes retain heat and prevented from freezing. 

Steam Tracing Systems vs Electric Heat Tracing Systems

There are two main types of heat tracing: electric and fluid. Both of these types involve molding tubing to the shape of the equipment for optimal effect. While both have their benefits, steam tracing is the most common. 

Electric Heat Tracing

Electric steam tracing uses cables wrapped around the pipeline in a manufacturing plant or refinery. These cables are then heated with electricity, which transfers to the pipeline. The electrical heat tracing system generates heat using one of several methods.

These methods include resistive, impedance, induction, or skin conduction, depending on the heat tracing system. Electric systems provide greater temperature variation than liquid heat tracing. Plus, they are lower in cost and can be monitored remotely. 

Fluid Steam Tracing

Fluid steam tracing uses a heated media that is shaped to the pipeline. Steam or another type of condensate is used in this case. If water (steam) is used for steam tracing, the water is dumped and continually replaced with freshly heated water. 

If organic heat-transfer fluid is used for steam tracing, it is recirculated in the system. To prevent it from cooling, it moves through a heat exchanger before being recirculated. 

Fluid systems are less prone to failure than electrical systems and they heat more readily. Plus, if water is the heat-transfer fluid used, it can be dumped into a boiler, making the process more efficient. 

For steam tracing systems, we recommend using thermal steam kits on equipment with complex shapes. These steam heat kits are more efficient by saving time and effort typically needed to mold the tracing system into these complex shapes. 

Choose the Best Steam Tracing System for Your Business

Steam tracing systems are beneficial for industrial temperature regulation. You can prevent process media from solidifying or separating. Plus, with steam heat kits, the process can be efficient and cost-effective. Make sure to choose the right type of system for your business. 

For more tips and recommendations to use in your business, head to our blog.