Calgary, Alberta: A Mecca for the Oil and Gas Sector

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When you stop to think of the world’s biggest capitals for the oil and gas sector, does Calgary come to mind at all? Well, if it doesn’t, it should now. Read on to see why so many are looking to Calgary as a Mecca for the oil and gas industry and why it’s always been the rightful place for the Global Petroleum Show.

 

Calgary, Alberta

Canada’s Impressive Contributor

What makes Calgary such an energy hub? Perhaps it’s merely a matter of location. Canada is the third largest global contributor to the world’s oil and natural gas stores. The only two countries ahead of our northern neighbor are Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. What’s more, Alberta (the province in which Calgary resides) produces almost 70 percent of Canada’s crude oil. (On a side note, it also produces almost 80 percent of Canada’s natural gas.)

Due to Alberta’s heavy influence in the oil and gas sector, it should come as no surprise that for more than two decades it has been the spotlight for the world’s biggest expo for the petroleum industry. The Global Petroleum Show, now running as an annual event, attracts the world biggest manufacturers, operators, servicing companies, and engineering firms from around the world. Hundreds of industry-leading contributors gather from over 100 countries to the capital city of Alberta each year in order to network, showcase, and improve upon industry trends and practices.

Thanks to its considerable clot in global energy, Calgary, Alberta has brought to itself some of the most influential institutions and businesses involved in sustainable energy. Of all the places in Canada, there is no other city with such a concentration of engineers and engineering organizations associated with industry-relevant technologies and applications. Now, with the 2015 edition of The Global Petroleum Show only a week away, Calgary is about to be under a high concentration of petroleum-sector limelight. Organizers anticipate that this year’s show will be the biggest yet, and with Calgary as its perpetual headquarters, the show will have a demonstrative influence for many years to come.

Powerblanket At The 2015 Global Petroleum Show

Every year during the spring-to-summer transition, there is an event held in Canada that’s of significant importance to the oil and gas sector. This event is the Global Petroleum Show. 2015 marks the 25th running of the event, and it’s certain to be the biggest yet. And yes, Powerblanket will be there again showcasing our technologies.

 

The 2015 Global Petroleum Show

A Canadian Tradition

The Global Petroleum Show has been a leading showcase in the oil and gas sector ever since its inception in 1968. Starting in 2014, the show became an annual event for its home city of Calgary. Previous to 2014, however, the show was held every other year. Perhaps one of the primary reasons for turning an every-other-year event into an annual showcase is because of the record-breaking numbers the show hit in 2012. That year the show saw 63,000 registered attendees from more than 100 countries. 2000 exhibiting companies came from all areas of the oil and gas industry, and the results filled the 700,000 square-foot space in Stampede Park to full capacity.

What makes this show so big? The Global Petroleum show is one of the most successful means of bringing industry leaders together on both a local and national scale. It represents a grand opportunity for companies to network and create business opportunities and growth between one another. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and all other industry contributors are able to come together, showcase their offerings, and leave with valuable connection for the success of their business.

 

Powerblanket At The Show

Whether this will be your tenth or first time attending the show, we invite you to stop by and see us at booth 7852 in halls D,E. We’ll be displaying an interesting and insightful demo for anyone involved in piping applications. We’ll showcase the protection capabilities of our patented technology on pipes, valves, manifolds, and instrumentation.

So if you’ve ever wanted to check out Powerblanket in action, stop by and see what we have to offer. We think you’ll leave rather impressed with what your patented approach can achieve.

 

 

Crude Oil Prices Fluctuate the Rate at the Pump

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You’re bound to have noticed that gas prices, which were at an unprecedented low a couple of months ago, are now on the rise again. In fact, they’ve been on the rise ever since the general price for crude oil has gone up to as much as $60.00 per barrel.

 

Oil dollar sign

Why the Rise?

If you’re like most American’s, you’re probably asking yourself: What on earth is going on with gas prices lately? Not too long ago, they were at an unprecedented low nationwide. Now, over the past month, they’ve been on a steady climb. We reported on the drop in gas prices back in January in our article, “Why The Drop in Gas Prices?” The amazing deals we were seeing at the pump the first two months of this year had two primary forces behind them: domestic drilling and fracking. Domestic oil drilling and fracking increased crude oil stores in the U.S. to surplus levels.

Now, gas prices have been on a steady rise for about a month, closer to the prices we used to see at the pump a year ago. The national average for regular unleaded gas is now up to $2.63 per gallon. So why have gas prices increased? Well, it would seem that an increase in price would be due to supply and demand. While many oil companies have scaled back on drilling since the drastic drop in prices, some experts suggest that this alone isn’t the reason for the price increase. Instead, another theory points to the uncertainty associated with the ever-volatile conditions in the Middle East.

Some suggest that tension in Iraq and other neighboring countries have caused the cost of crude oil to go up worldwide. And as the price increases per barrel so to do gas prices, of course. What could this mean for the near future? Well, we might see a similar cycle reoccur as fracking efforts increase again domestically in order to counteract foreign pricing restrictions. Whatever the cause may have been, the outlook for the next several months appears positive, with gas prices plateauing and even dropping a small amount, according to industry experts.

Preventing Hydrate Formation in Gas Pipeline Valves

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For anyone with experience in gas pipelines, hydrate formation is no new phenomenon. But even if you work or have worked in the natural gas industry, it’s worth revisiting the cause behind hydrate formation and how it can be altogether prevented.

 

Hydrate Formation in Gas Pipeline Valves

Hydrates Are Bad

Hydrates, the term may sound relatively harmless, but when it comes to gas pipelines, harmless certainly isn’t the case. Hydrates are solid, crystalline compounds that form when water molecules chemically bond to another compound under high pressure and low temperatures—in this case, natural gases of any form. Hydrates are certainly the enemy for any pipeline transporting gas under high pressure, and this problem becomes compounded as temperatures drop close to and below freezing.

With that said, the formation of hydrates can and will occur in temperatures above freezing too. So regardless of where the pipeline runs, hydrate maintenance is something to keep high on the priority list. Ultimately, hydrates can drastically impeded and even stop the flow of gas through a pipeline, especially around transition points such as valves, manifolds, and instrumentation. These transition points are where the problem is often encountered. While heat trace applications can be used to keep temperatures high enough to prevent the formation of hydrates in long sections of pipe, the same technology doesn’t work as well around the aforementioned transition areas, at least not without considerable attention and cost devoted applying the solution.

Preventing the accumulation of hydrates in valves and instrumentation doesn’t necessitate traditional heat-trace methods. No, there’s a much simpler solution to the problem. A pipeline needs something that can be easily installed and removed, something that provides heat and insulation in one simple, easy-to-use system. Thankfully, the ideal solution is right here at Powerblanket®.

 

 

Powerblanket and the Pipeline

In the world of gas pipelines, equipment is expensive, product is valuable, and time is money. A company’s assets can range from a heavy-duty pipeline down to the products and equipment it uses to service it. Whatever the case may be and whatever the need may pose, Powerblanket can help you protect your assets against the threat of failure or malfunction.

valve manifold heater wrap

In the case of preventing hydrate formation in valves, manifolds, and instrumentation, Powerblanket has products designed with this specific task in mind. Our valve, manifold, and instrumentation heaters provide durable insulation and a consistent, regulated, and even distribution of heat that will keep your instruments operating in ideal temperatures ranges, warding off the formation of hydrates completely. What’s more, Powerblanket heaters are easy to install and remove when circumstance doesn’t necessitate their use. This means that you don’t have any need to expend large amounts of time and money to incase your instruments in a box or to attempt heat trace around gadgetry. With Powerblanket, you have the complete solution in one system.

 

Stand Out Features of Valve and Manifold Heaters

  • Custom designed to fit your pipes and valves perfectly
  • Provides freeze protection down to -40º F / -40º C
  • Prepares pipes for coatings and welding
  • Meets important UL/CSA safety standards
  • Can be custom made to operate in Class I Div. 2 hazardous locations

Stand Out Features of Instrumentation Heaters

  • Innovative design allows easy access PTs, gauges, and instruments
  • Highly efficient and evenly distributed heat • UL/CSA and CE certification
  • Ability to meet CID2 hazardous location requirements
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Ensures smooth operation

 

 

Crude Oil on the Railroad

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Changes in the railroad industry have caused many to rethink the protocol associated with shipping crude oil across railways in North America. In fact, BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Corporation has taken it upon themselves to impose additional safety measures for crude oil shipments in both the US and Canada.

 

BNSF Train pulling cars

The Oil Industry and The Railroad

It’s clear to most of us how crucial the railroad is to many industries, and the oil and gas sector is no exception. In fact, the railroad works very closely with the nation’s major drillers, refineries, and distributors. The railroad hauled as much as 493,126 cars of crude oil last year alone. Thankfully, with as much oil as the railroad hauls each year, there are hardly ever any accidents. The railroad industry is very cautious about transporting hazardous materials.

Railroad Regulations

However, a handful of recent derailments have caused the industry to rethink the approach they take to shipping crude oil. The railroad has already implemented an increase in track inspections, up more than twice as much as regulations require. BNSF alone has pledged to incorporate safety measures beyond the industry standard and looks to be setting a new precedence for all others. One way BNSF has increased their safety expectations is through the removal of potential problems earlier than stipulations mandate. For example, all railroad companies use a system of railway detectors to pinpoint wheels and axles that may potentially fail soon. While there are certain stipulations regarding how soon worn axles and wheels must be replaced, BNSF has pledged to replace these parts sooner than required for additional safety.

Another regulation that BNSF has imposed upon itself is the slowing of freight cars through populated areas. The railroad in general slows freight cars carrying crude oil to 40 mph through populated regions, but BNSF has decided to slow their cars even more. The new BNSF standard is 35 mph through areas populated by more than 100,000 people. In addition to this, BNSF has also increased railway inspections near water sources. While the railroad as a whole is continually committed to safety, BNSF’s recent moves look to set an example of an even higher level of safety protocols.

A major factor to the new regulations is the inclusion of a new or enhanced kind of braking system. The new stipulation from the feds is to include a new, electronically controlled, pneumatic braking system on all cars carrying crude oil.  These new braking systems are said to be capable of slowing a train quicker and safer than the current systems in place of railcars. These new braking systems will be required for trains carrying 100 or more tankers filled with petroleum product.

As sensible as this all seems, there have been many to voice their concerns against the new rule.  The American Railroad Association has come out to say that this will be far more costly than the feds have considered, and could result in negative operational impacts on a network that fuels so much of the nation’s economy. In addition to the concerns of the American Railroad Association, the American Petroleum Institute feels that the window on implementing the new regulation will make it unrealistically difficult to get rid of the old tankers by 2020, the proposed date to phase out all old braking systems.

On the other hand, a certain unnamed advocacy group has been reported to have expressed concerns that while it is a good step to start with the brakes, the new regulation does nothing to help with derailments.  Ultimately, this group feels the powers in charge of the new regulations need to do more to ensure additional safety.

While even more changes await the railroad industry, Powerblanket is ready to help keep trains running. Railcar heating, tank warmers, snow melting mats are just a few of the ways Powerblanket is an integral part of America’s rolling freight system.

Why The Drop in Gas Prices?

Perhaps you’ve noticed the recent decline in gas prices. After all, they’re nearly half of what they used to be. But if you’re wondering what’s caused this sudden change in the game, well, you’re not the only one. The good news is that the prices are the way they are for reasons that hit close to home for us Americans.

Pumping gas

Domestic Oil  

That’s right, domestic oil. The idea of drilling for our own oil in the US has been a long-standing debate for some time now. Fast forward to the end of 2014 and it’s finally come to fruition. The major contributing factor to the drop in gas prices is the fact that petroleum companies are drilling in the US. What a noble idea! With US companies drilling for this resource at home, all of a sudden, the prices placed on petroleum used here in the states aren’t contingent on some other country’s economic interest.

In addition to this, petroleum isn’t being exported from the US right now. What that means is that it’s staying here at home and is bound to boost our own economy. Some experts have speculated that the drop in gas prices is only going to continue too. Within the next couple of years, industry professionals suggest that prices may even be inching further away from the two-dollar-per-gallon mark and closer to one dollar per gallon.

 

Oil Fracking

The second biggest contributing factor to the drop in gas prices is the use of a relatively new form of petroleum extraction. This technique is referred to as fracking. Fracking allows petroleum to be extracted from places that use to be a dead end. With fracking techniques used by numerous companies, the US is tapping into its previously unreachable stores. In fact, the US is one of the leaders in petroleum production globally now.

This means that as a global player in the petroleum market, we are no longer merely an interested buyer, but a self-sustaining petroleum powerhouse. This means a lot for the price of fuel as it also eliminates the costly process of overseas shipping. All in all, the decrease in gas prices means a boost to the American economy. And with oil being reachable in places it wasn’t before, this has also produced more jobs for Americans.

 

What is Trace Heating or Heat Trace?

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Perhaps you’ve heard these terms and never really knew what they were, or perhaps you work with large piping systems and you know exactly what they mean. Either way, trace heating (sometimes referred to as heat trace) has been used in piping applications for a long time now.

 

heat trace tape on drain pipe to prevent freezing

Types of Heat Trace

The idea of electrical heat trace has been around since the 30s, the 1930s, that is. And although it wasn’t used until later (when the technology caught up to the idea) it has, nonetheless, been around for a long time. With that said, the technology still has many viable uses.

One of the main arenas in which trace heating is used still today is in large piping applications. In the oil and gas industry trace heating is applied to long stretches of pipe where freeze protection and hydrate control are a big priority.

Trace heating is also used in many other applications, such as floor heating, portable heat applications, and even large snow-melt systems. In many cases trace heating can prove a very practical solution. However, in other cases, there may be an even better option.

 

Heat trace applications

A More Efficient Heat Spread

When it comes to harnessing the capability of electrical heating, heat trace does a relatively good job. Electricity converts into heat energy at 100% efficiency. But that doesn’t mean that electrical heating apparatus is 100% efficient at its job. No, the electricity is 100%, but how that “electricity efficiency” is spread becomes the real game of numbers.

In a trace heating system, like those shown in the image to the left, the heat coils are interconnected in order to spread the heat throughout the system. But as you can see, they also leave a lot of gaps in between. This doesn’t translate into an even distribution of heat. Instead, it causes variances through the heating system.

Conversely, one particular, patented technology makes use of a much better means of electrical heat spread. Instead of relying upon heated coils that spread electric heat unevenly, this particular technology relies upon an ideal blend of heat conducting materials that allow for even and consistent heat distribution.

 

GreenHeat technology vs. Heat trace

When compared to trace heating, this technology outperforms it hands down. It simply offers better heat distribution without any variances. Take a look at the image to the right to get an idea of this concept. You can’t argue with imagery like this. Nonetheless, trace heating still has its uses, such as with heating extremely long stretches of oil piping, but when you need a heating solution that enables consistent, even, and regulated heat distribution, there’s a better answer.

Railroad Heating Solutions for Grease

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Of all the liquids one might store in the winter time, oil and grease brave the cold better than most. Both have an extremely low freezing temperature, and they can be stored in many different ways. However, this doesn’t mean that cold weather can’t affect oil and grease. Instead of freeze protection, viscosity is the name of the game in railroad heating applications.

 

Railroad track joint with grease

Cold Grease Hot Grease

What’s the difference between cold and hot grease? Well, the answer seems a pretty obvious one when you think only of temperature. But add viscosity to the equation, and you have a whole new matter to consider.

While the viscosity of grease may not differ that much between room temperature and 32° F, it can differ enough to cause operation inconvenience when the temperatures are a little more extreme. This means that heating solutions for oil storage can actually be rather important.

Lots of industries use grease for one thing or another. Grease has so many applications and uses that it would be exhausting to try and think of them all. Some involve large temperature ranges and others don’t. But in cases where grease is exposed to frigid conditions, it’s helpful to understand how the cold can affect its characteristics.

Some manufactures actually produce certain types of non-freezing, synthetic grease for use in refrigerator equipment or in other scenarios where it would be exposed to the extreme cold. While this works in smaller application, synthetic greases may not be so economical in large-scale work where a more common, less-specialized grease would prove adequate. A good example would be the railroad.

 

Railroad grease container

Railroad Heating Flange Oilers

The railroad uses flange oilers to grease the tracks for easier maneuverability of a train around sweeping bends and tight turns. A flange oiler is a contraption that is integrated within the rail system to deliver grease along the inner portion of the track. Oilers are responsible for keeping these flanges filled with grease in every type of weather imaginable, and the flange can deliver the grease efficiently in very cold weather.

However, to keep the flanges stocked with grease regularly, there has to be stores of grease somewhere along the track. That’s why the railroad stock piles grease in large barrels in areas where a lot of flanges are installed. For example, there is likely to be large grease barrels along the tracks that wind through a canyon or up and over a hill or mountain.

When it comes time for the oiler to extract grease from the tank, it needs to be soft and pliable enough to be fished out. If temperatures drop to extreme lows around these outdoor tanks, it can cause the grease to become very viscous and difficult to extract. This is why the railroad heating solutions for grease make use of insulation and heating blankets to wrap these tanks for the winter months. Keeping the grease at its ideal temperature makes the job of an oiler much more manageable.

You don’t have to work on railroad heating applications to understand how a similar procedure could benefit your operations. If you store grease or oil in outdoor tanks for any reason, a heating solution would be well worth considering. But, you’ll need a product that can both insulate and heat your storage tank in order to keep your grease at a temperature that’s easy to work with. Do this, and you’ll find that working with grease during cold weather is much easier.

 

 

Advances in Natural Gas Dehydration

Have you ever heard of it—natural gas dehydration? Well, if you’re in the industry, you certainly have. You’ll know all about the need for managing the formation of hydrates during the pumping and processing of natural gas, but there’s now a new means for preventing such, and it’s a lot more friendly to the environment and company budgets.

 

Advances in Natural Gas Dehydration

Siftek

That’s right, Siftek. It’s the new name in natural gas dehydration. At least, its creators are hoping it will be. The new technology is the child of Vaperma and Ecana (with Ecana assisting in the funding of the project). Siftek is set to provide a more energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly means for hydration management in natural-gas processing and transportation.

Whenever natural gas is taken from its raw and “natural” state and made into a useable resource, it requires a dehydration process in order to prevent the formation of hydrates. Hydrates are crystalline compounds that form when water molecules are chemically bound to another compound—in this case, natural gases of any form.

Traditionally, natural gas dehydration is accomplished through the use of glycol, often referred to as MEG (or mono-ethylene glycol). This chemical is the same substance used for automobile anti-freeze. The presence of the chemical lowers the freezing point of the gas and, in turn, prevents the formation of hydrates. But glycol is messy stuff and unfriendly to the environment, due to the emissions that come as a result of its use.

The Good News

Vaperma’s membrane-based Siftek, on the other hand, is expected to reduce emissions significantly. And in addition to this, it’s also supposed to be more economical. Thanks to the fact that Siftek is not a chemical, the emissions that come from its use are destined to be drastically lower. This, along with its direct effect on a reduction in energy consumption, makes the new technology a potential breakthrough for the industry.

The testing and demonstration of Vaperma’s Siftek will soon take place at an undisclosed facility in Quebec. If this new product is all it’s hype up to be, then the natural-gas industry is set to become more profitable and environmentally friendly in the very near future.

The Potential Dangers of MEG (Mono-ethylene Glycol)

MEG and the environment don’t really get along that well. But of course, we’re not talking about anyone named Meg, either. No, this post has to do with Mono-ethylene Glycol (aka: MEG), its potential effects on the environment, and why it might not be the best option for freeze protecting your pipeline.

 

Mono-ethylene Glycol molecule

Oil, Gas, and the Environment

The petroleum and natural-gas industries have plenty to worry about when it comes to environmental concerns. With this in mind, adding another toxic and dangerous element to the mix doesn’t make for an ideal situation. Nonetheless, many companies use a certain, potentially-dangerous, and toxic chemical to keep their pipelines from freezing or creating hydrates. And that chemical is MEG (or mono-ethylene glycol).

Mono-ethylene glycol is used as an additive in pipelines that transport natural gas or oil. The presence of the chemical lowers the freezing point and prevents the formation of hydrates. This is the same chemical used as anti-freeze in automobiles.

MEG, though useful for its anti-freeze qualities, is also potentially dangerous for two primary reasons. The number one reason is its toxicity. It can be deadly if ingested or inhaled in high enough quantities. Second is the flammability and combustibility of the chemical. Simply put, it can catch fire and even explode under the right circumstances.

While those who use MEG most often do so with care and knowledge of the chemical, why add the risk in the first place? If a pipeline were to leak this chemical, the effects could be significantly detrimental—both to those working the pipeline and the environment around it.  

 

A Better Solution

Now what if there was a better solution? Well, there is. When it comes to protecting your pipeline against freezing conditions or hydrate formation, trace-heating solutions are a good answer for long stretches of pipe. And as far as valves, manifolds, and instrumentation are concerned, heating solutions that offer both insulation and heat distribution in one product are very important.

Finding a solution that can be easily applied, removed, and reapplied to your pipeline’s transition points is of considerable importance when ensuring ideal temperature is maintained. Thankfully, such solutions exist. And they offer an economic, safe, and non-toxic way to keep your pipeline functional in cold and inclement weather.

 

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Product Spotlight: Pipe Heater

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Our advice to anyone considering pipe-thawing methods is this: don’t do it. It doesn’t make sense to work at solving a problem when you can prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. So instead of attempting to thaw frozen pipes, keep your pipes from ever freezing in the first place.

 

Pipe Heater

The Solution

Powerblanket® knows how inconvenient, expensive, and unsafe frozen pipes can be. That’s why, along with our valve, manifold, and instrumentation heaters, we also provide a product for that important element in between. After all, it’s just as important to keep the pipes themselves from freezing, regardless of what type of fluid you may be pumping through them. With this in mind, we’d like to introduce you to the Powerblanket Pipe Heater, or Heated Pipe Wrap.

 

Features and Benefits

The Powerblanket Heated Pipe Wrap harbors the same patented technology used in all Powerblanket heating products. This technology, along with its seamless implementation into an easy-to-use and durable blanket, saves labor costs and downtime through simple and fast installation, uninstallation, and reinstallation. Protecting fluids from freezing in harsh outdoor environments is what Powerblanket is all about, and Powerblanket pipe heaters make this a real possibility for your pipes or pipeline.

 

Our Pipe Heaters offer:

  • Savings in labor costs and downtime through easy installation, uninstallation, and reinstallation
  • Freeze protection down to -40°F / -40°C
  • Ready-to-ship sizes, available in multiple lengths and diameters
  • Preparation of pipes for the proper curing of coatings
  • Certification to UL/CSA/CE standards

 

See all the details of the Powerblanket pipe heater by downloading the free product spec sheet!

 

Download Spec Sheet

Product Spotlight: Valve, Manifold, and Instrumentation Heaters

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Regardless of the industry, if there’s piping involved, Powerblanket® can help keep it all protected from the cold. After all, if your piping system is left to the elements all on its own, you could end up experiencing some significant problems.

Valve, Manifold, and Instrumentation Heaters

Powerblanket® Valve and Manifold Heaters

Powerblanket® specializes in protecting of valves, pipes, manifolds, and other instrumentation from the harshness of cold weather with specialized heaters. A frozen pipeline can cause numerous and expensive problems. If you have to replace valves and manifolds due to the damage caused by freezing, then you’re looking at a lot of down time and additional expense.  

In addition to the continuity of your business, there’s an even graver matter to keep in mind, and that’s the safety of everyone involved. Imagine the danger and risk associated with malfunctioning equipment. If a shutoff valve fails to work during an emergency, you could have a serious problem on your hands.

For reasons such as these, freeze protection for piping systems is no new endeavor. However, traditional methods addressing this dilemma often have more to do with resolution than prevention. Steaming and gas heating valves and manifolds not only adds an additional element of risk, but it also addresses the problem only after it has already occurred. On the other hand, boxed units that encase the valve, manifold, or instrumentation in a closed capsule are expensive, cumbersome, and permanent—meaning they remain in place even when you don’t need them.

Powerblanket®, however, prevents freezing from ever happening, and we do it all in an extremely easy and economical way. Powerblanket® solutions involve an easy-to-install, customized, heating apparatus that not only insulates your pipeline components from the cold, but also allows you to maintain ideal temperature ranges for each application. This is all made possible through our patented technology that delivers a consistent and even distribution of heat throughout the entire device. With Powerblanket® valve and manifold heaters, and the instrumentation heater, there’s no longer any reason to worry about the onset of cold weather.

 

The Benefits of Powerblanket Valve, Manifold, and Instrumentation Heaters:

  • Custom design fits your pipes, valves, manifolds, and instrumentation perfectly
  • Provides freeze protection down to -40º F / -40º C
  • Heating through blankets prepares pipes for coatings and welding
  • Meets important UL/CSA safety standards
  • Can be custom made to operate in CID2 hazardous locations
  • Simple design, easy installation, and everyday usability
  • Reduces downtime costs and losses caused by damaged pipes
  • Ensures instrumentation functionality in temperatures as low as -58°F
  • Eliminates alternative emergency thawing services or steamers–and all associated expenses
  • Prevents pipeline control valves and instruments from freezing
  • Reduces labor costs and downtime through quick and easy installation and removal
  • Offers peace of mind knowing that your pipe system is protected from freezing
  • Eliminates the need to replace expensive valves and pipe due to freezing

 

Download product catalog

 

Heating Up the Railroad Industry

Dropping temperatures can slow projects of all kinds. Many industries experience considerable lows during the winter months, but the railroad industry is one that must continue the same productivity year round—regardless of weather, and Powerblanket® helps them to do so.

 

train yard in the snow

The Impact of the Railroad—The Impact of Powerblanket®

The railroad is an important industry for the American economy (and for many economies worldwide). When you consider how much freight passes through locomotives every year, you can account for a significant amount of the goods and supplies that many companies produce and utilize. With an impact like this in mind, Powerblanket® produces customized solutions designed to assist railroad companies in protecting their resources and ensuring operational continuity, which in turn will help with the economic influence for all involved.

Cold weather can stop many different types of fair-weather operations, but the railroad isn’t one of them; too much is at stake. Yet, despite the continuity demanded of our railways, cold temperatures can drastically affect the materials the railroad relies upon to keep their trains moving. Powerblanket® patented technology assists railroad businesses in protecting their valuable assets by applying an even, consistent, and energy-efficient distribution of heat to whatever resource needs to be protected against the ravages of cold weather.  Here are a number of areas in which we assist:

Cas cylinder warmers

  • Signal & Communication Equipment
  • Propane Tanks
  • Temperature-Sensitive Products, Lubricants, Fluids
  • Maintenance of Way
  • General Construction
  • Wayside Detector Systems
  • Scanners
  • Hot Box (HBD) & Dragging Equipment Detectors (DED)
  • Railcar Heating
  • Snow / Ice Melting ~ Thawing
  • Sustainable Operations, and much more!

 

 

A Note on Propane

Rail switches don’t like cold weather, and a railroad is only as good as its weakest switch. If it gets cold enough, and especially if there’s plenty of snow on the tracks, these switch points will freeze and their movement will be impaired. The solution to this comes by heating this switch points with propane. Due to its usefulness in this process, propane becomes a precious commodity during winter weather.

However, with as precious as propane is to the railroad, the tanks are often left out in the cold, stored onsite, next to the switches. If left out to endure the cold long enough, low temperatures can cause the tank to lose pressure, at which point, propane depletion becomes inevitable. But Powerblanket solves this problem with our Propane Tank Heater—a revolutionary product that uses patented technology to deliver a uniform barrier of warmth over the entire service area. With this solution, railroad companies protect their switches and the propane stores that keep them heated when it’s needed.

 

Valve Heaters and Warmers

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Most valves are built to last a long time, and can withstand considerable fluctuations in temperature. However, despite the durability of well-built valves, extreme cold can affect their functionality in a serious way.


trans Alaskan pipeline

Keep Your Valves Protected

If the valves in your piping system are exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged period of time, you can run into some pretty serious problems, problems that will translate into very expensive downtime.

For example, imagine that one of the valves that sits at an important transition spot in an oil pipeline becomes frozen and fails to redirect the oil in the direction it is supposed to. The results could be catastrophic. Or perhaps even more importantly, what happens if a shot-off valve fails to close during an emergency?

In the end, these possibilities are chances you don’t have to take.  You can protect your pipe valves and butterfly valves from exposure to cold weather and ensure that they always function properly. At Powerblanket®, we cover the value of your valves—literally.

 

Valve Heater

Powerblanket® Valve Heaters Standout Features:

  • Innovative design allows easy access
  • Highly efficient and evenly-distributed heat
  • UL/CSA and CE certification
  • Ability to meet CID2 hazardous location requirements
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Ensures smooth operation

 

ETL certification logo

Powerblanket® – Cost Savings and Benefits:

  • Simple design, easy installation, and everyday usability
  • Reduce downtime costs and losses caused by damaged pipes
  • Ensure valve functionality in temperatures as low as –40°F
  • Eliminate alternative emergency thawing services or steamers
  • Prevents pipeline control valves and butterfly valves from freezing
  • Easily customized to fit your custom valves perfectly

 

 

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The Benefits of Frac Tanks

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In the oil & gas industry, storing water and other liquids on site can be quite a task, but with frac tanks, you can store as much as you need.

 

Frac Tank

Frac Tanks and the Purpose They Serve

Large tanks are a very efficient way to store water or other liquids on site to be used in oil-field or construction applications. As far as water’s concerned, anywhere you go, whether it’s in the hydraulic fracturing process to build something in the construction industry, there is always a very real need for it.

The need for having water on site is one of the biggest necessities that frac tanks provide. They are easily transported by an 18 wheeler to the site at which they will be used and are left there for however long they are needed. Many are outfitted with the proper piping and pumping components needed to get the water (or whatever it’s storing) to the actual spot where it will be used too.

With an innovative solution like this, which has been around for some time now, many different industries rely on frac tanks to store the liquids or other materials they need on site. Well, there you have it. That solves that. Or does it?

Here’s a question to consider. What happens if the tank is delivered to an area that becomes frigid cold during the winter months? What if the frac tank is holding water or some other temperature-sensitive liquid? What do you do then? Letting 21,000 gallons of water or some other liquid freeze on you, especially if it’s out in the middle of nowhere at an oil-drilling site, can pose quite the dilemma indeed.

 

Frac tank heating blanket

The Solution for Freeze Protection

Up until the inception of Powerblanket® Frac Tank Heating Blankets, there wasn’t a “set it and forget it” heating solution for frac tanks. However, Powerblanket has this problem solved. Along with all the other smaller products that Powerblanket creates for varying industries and a myriad of applications, we also provide some very big blankets for big jobs such as frac tank freeze protection.

Find out how Powerblanket® has helped others in the construction industry by downloading our free case studies!

 

 

Protecting Your Propane for Switch Heating

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Have you ever noticed large propane tanks next to railroad tracks? If you work in the railroad industry you probably have, and you know that they are used to power track switches and track heaters.

Rail Switches and Winter Weather

When the needle drops during the winter months, it doesn’t have much of an effect on trains. They keep moving along day after day, rain or shine, snow, sleet, or hail—cold or warm weather. In fact, it doesn’t pose much of a problem to the majority of the railroad itself either. However, there is one place where it does have a considerable effect.

Switches don’t like cold weather, and a railroad is only as good as its weakest switch. Switches are those transition points in a track that determine the direction a train will take. If it gets cold enough, and especially if there’s plenty of snow to cover the track, these switch points will freeze and their movement will be impaired.

 

The Solution is a Hot One

The industry standard for dealing with this problem is to heat the switch points in order to keep them from freezing. There are two ways to do this, either electronically or by using propane. Far more often than not, the railroad uses propane applicators to heat the track.

However, while the track switches are undergoing their propane-induced thawing process, the onsite propane tanks are left out in the cold. When left out to endure the cold long enough, low temperatures will cause the tank to lose pressure and become useless. That’s why Powerblanket created the Propane Tank Heater—a revolutionary product that uses patented technology to deliver uniform barrier of warmth over the entire service area. Now the railroad can protect its switches and the propane stores that keep them heated when it’s needed.

See how well the Propane Tank Heater works for yourself by downloading the white paper!

 

 

 

The 2014 Global Petroleum Show

The 2014 Global Petroleum Show will be held in Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Today through June 12th are the days of showcasing industry technologies and innovations for the oil and gas sector.

 

Powerblanket At The 2014 Global Petroleum Show2014’s Show

This year, the Global Petroleum Show will host over 2,000 exhibiting companies, 60,000 registered attendees from over 100 countries, and 80 sponsors and associate companies and organizations. The annual Global Petroleum Show is one of the most important events for the oil and gas sector. Of the exhibiting companies attending this year, over 35% of them are international—which helps to show how much this event is anticipated worldwide.

This year’s layout accounts for more than 700,000 net square feet of exhibits shared among six different exhibit halls—amounting to the largest exhibition Stampede Park has ever seen. As an addition, the 2014 show hosts the Global Energy Career expo. This appendage to the event is held in the Telus Convention Center alongside another new add on: the International Energy Capital Forum—where all the money comes into the picture. An outdoor, mobile presentation theater will also be present, beckoning any interesting in learning more about supply-chain management.

The Global Petroleum Show creates a great opportunity for the world’s energy companies to come together to showcase technologies and services related to the oil and gas sector. The show began June ninth with an opening-night reception and continues through June 12.

 

 

 

If Your Valves And Pipes Are Frozen, You’re Already Too Late

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If you’ve lived in cold climates, you’re familiar with the dilemmas posed by freezing pipes. In fact, the biggest problem comes when the instrumentation and valves on a piping system freeze themselves. Despite the fact that this is a possibility that many live with during the winter months, the remedies that have been employed throughout the years have often proven expensive or difficult to work with.

 

An Insightful ExerciseManifold and Instrumentation Heaters

Here’s an insightful exercise you can perform from the comfort of your office or home. On the very same computer on which you’re reading this article, open a Google window and search for “frozen pipe valves”. Now, be warned. If you work in an industry that involves piping systems, the images you see could make you cringe a little.

After you’ve taken a moment to review the many images, stop to consider what they all have in common. If you’ve told yourself that the commonality between them all is the fact that the are bare and exposed to the elements, then you are right in line with the premise of this article and you’re on your way to learning a logical solution to the problem of freezing pipes and valves.

 

How Do I Protect Valves and Pipes from Freezing?

The best way (in fact, the only real effective and cost-efficient way) to keep your pipes and valves from freezing during extremely cold weather is to pro-tect them against the elements. Despite the many domestic applications you may have seen in your Google search, there are plenty of pictures of industrial pipes that are left to brave the weather on their own, and if left to do so for long enough, pipes and vavles will inevitably freeze.

In cases such as these, people often introduce pipe-heating and valve-thawing methods. The problem with this approach is that it attempts to remedy the problem rather than prevent it. Prevention is the key when it comes to freezing conditions. If you’re pipes or valves are already frozen, you could be too late, and thawing them means expensive downtime for your operation.

 

Product Spotlight-  Heaters Powerblanket® Prevents Frozen Pipes and Valves

Instead of trying to play catch up, don’t let your pipes freeze at all. In industrial applications—whether oil, gas, water, or other piping systems—freeze prevention is key. You can’t afford to just hope that your valves or pipes won’t freeze, and then attempt to thaw them if they do.

Instead, Powerblanket offers an easy-to-install solution that prevents freezing from ever happening. With Powerblanket’s valve heaters and pipe heaters, you can protect your system from ever freezing in the first place. Conventional approaches to valve and pipeline freeze protection have included permanent solutions that requires extensive labor costs to install and remove.

However, Powerblanket’s covers allow for easy installation and removal, for those times you need them and the times you don’t. Powerblanket products also produce even and consistent distribution of heat—allowing you to heat your valves and pipe systems in an energy-efficient manner that will save you money.

Protect Your Instrumentation During Cold Weather

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Valve, Manifold, and Instrumentation Heaters The Effects of Cold Weather on Pressure Transmitters

When considering the importance pressure transmitters serve in any fluid or gas piping system, it stands to reason that extreme care should be taken in preserving the ideal operation of such an instrumental component. Most pressure transmitters are built to withstand rigorous and extended usage within reasonable climate ranges. Under normal conditions, a quality pressure transmitter will operate without any noticeable variances. However, when the temperature drops to extreme lows, pressure transmitters can malfunction and produce inaccurate readings.

In regards to certain natural-gas-piping systems, extremely cold weather can cause water accumulation on the internal walls of the pipes themselves. If this same accumulation of water is allowed to build within a pressure transmitter or flow meter, the effects could cause significantly inaccurate readings, as well as eventual component failure. Additionally, adverse results similar in nature can happen within oil, water, and other fluid and gas-piping systems.

 

How to Protect Your External Instrumentations From Extreme Cold

Understanding the effects of cold weather on your instrumentation is only the first step, of course. Preventing problems from ever arising is what’s most important. It’s true that most pressure transmitters and flow meters are design with extreme conditions in mind, but they can only maintain ideal operation so far on their own—without the assistance of some heating aid. There is a drastic lack of options in the respective industries regarding any resolution to this problem, but some of the traditional approaches include the following:

  • No resolution option (Hoping for the best isn’t a good plan when it comes to expensive equipment and resources.)
  • Boxed heating elements (The downside to this option is expense and permanence. When warmer weather returns the box stays on.)
  • Occasional heat treatments (Danger, inefficiency, and expense are all factors when considering this approach. Best advice—don’t consider it at all.

 

The Powerblanket Approach

The best way to solve the problem of transmitter malfunction in cold weather is to protect the instrument against the weather itself. Some companies offer boxed applications that are permanently installed over the unit, but these applications are expensive and can’t be removed during the warmer months.

Powerblanket, on the other hand, offers a heating element that is easily applied and removed when needed. Powerblankets patented approach allows for equal distribution of heat and allows for considerable costs savings when compared to the alternative.

How to Prevent Frozen Pumps and Piping?

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Heated pipe wraps to prevent freezingIn the mining industry, it’s critical that slurry and other liquids are moved from point A in the pipeline to point B in the pipeline with no restrictions to flow. If freezing pipes or other restrictions happen, it is very costly and can shut the entire mining process down. Without proper preventative measures put in place, freezing pipes can and will happen.

Powerblanket® pipe heaters and warmers solve the problem of freezing pipes and eliminate costly down time.

The problem with ice building in the volute area of the pump is that it transfers to the piping. This restricts the flow and eventually shuts the line down. This results in dreaded down time, which is very expensive for mining companies.

With Powerblanket custom applications the volute area can be heated to prevent freezing. This keeps the pump and pipeline free of ice and working properly.

Advantages of Powerblanket pipe and pump heaters:

  • Easily installed and removed
  • Customizable for many sizes and shapes
  • No need for costly contractors for installation
  • Eliminates the hassle of putting on and taking off heat trace
  • Energy efficient

 

Powerblanket has effective heating solutions for most pump and pipe heating needs. Stay ahead of the cold weather and eliminate freezing pumps and pipes with an effective and energy efficient heating source.

How Do I Keep Valves from Freezing?

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Pipeline valve heatersWhen valves freeze during extreme weather temperatures significant problems may result. Operational down-time, loss of profit, substantial cost of thawing and repairs as well as hazardous conditions is consequential. Flow is required for operation and therefore thawing and/or heating is necessary.  

 

What options could you use to eliminate the risk of freezing valves?

  • Draining and bleeding the lines and valves may not be feasible in all operations
  • Electrical Heat Trace – Limiting access to the valve
  • Building temporary housing/heating units
  • Temporary heating solutions such as propane or space heaters
  • Heating blankets or heating wraps

What is the best solution to keep valves heated and prevent freezing?

The best solution, on the market today for heating or thawing valves, would have the following features:

  • Easily installed or removed
  • Easy access for monitoring and maintenance
  • Even and efficient heat
  • Meets current safety standards
  • Available in standard and custom sizes
  • Durable for year-round cold weather use
  • Flexible for storage during the warmer seasons

 

Valve, Manifold Heaters Powerblanket® valve heaters are an excellent solution for heating valves. Heating blankets are often the best solution to keep valves from freezing. Powerblanket uses a graphite inlay to evenly distribute heat across the entire blanket. Blanket style valve heaters are easily customized to fit a wide variety of valve sizes. Additionally, this product can be made to comply with CID2-T4 hazardous location requirements. It is durable for year-round cold-weather protection, and can be used to heat valves in the following industries:

 

  •         Oil and Gas –CID2 rating
  •         Water purification
  •         Waste Water
  •         Tank storage systems

 

Powerblanket enhances operational functionality of tanks or flow systems by wrapping around and heating the exposed valves preventing critical cold weather related problems, thus reducing unnecessary costs related to shut-downs and repairs. For the best solution to prevent freezing or to thaw a frozen valve use Powerblanket valve heaters.

Powerblanket Heating Solutions: Driven By Patented GreenHeat Technology

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At Powerblanket® our brand and innovative technology have always gone hand-in-hand.  Our patented graphite-based heat spreading technology known as GreenHeat Technology™ is found in every electrically powered heating solution we manufacture today.  GreenHeat Technology provides many benefits that have driven the demand for the products we build.

In addition to standard products serving construction and industrial markets, a high percentage of the heating solutions we manufacture today are custom applications.  The following are some of the various markets and industries Powerblanket serves today:

 

As mentioned earlier, the benefits provided to the markets and industries Powerblanket serves have driven the demand for GreenHeat Technolgy. The ability of Powerblanket heating solutions to either make or save our customers money is the driving force behind our success.  The following are a few of the product benefits we are capable of providing:

  • Cold Weather Concrete Curing Capability
  • Accelerated Cure Times & Strengths (PSI Levels)
  • Freeze Protection
  • Temperature Control
  • Reduced Down Times
  • Sustainable Productivity
  • Meeting Production Schedules
  • Enhanced Flow Rates
  • Maintain Accurate Pressure Readings
  • Lower Cost of Installation & Maintenance
  • Chemical & Lubricant Integrity / Protection

 

We have always prided ourselves on listening to our customers.  Making a concerted effort to truly understand the application requirements and desired results is what allows us to translate product features into deliverable expectations.  Our commitment to producing innovative heating solutions is what has allowed us to diversify our product offering; both standard and custom.  Our people are truly our greatest asset; our customers and their many application challenges are our greatest source of motivation and success.

Oilfield Service: Heating Solutions Enhance Sustainability

Trans-Alaskan PipelineCold weather’s impact on industrial and construction projects has never been more evident as it’s been on oilfield applications.  The economic relevance of sustainable production makes benefits such as freeze protection and frac tank heating, the tip of the oilfield iceberg. The harshest climates and environmental conditions are not acceptable excuses or reasons for shut downs or work stoppages.

There are many responsibilities and services these companies provide.  Such services include rig transport and set-up, water transfer, and providing fluid and chemical treatment for flow enhancement. Each and every facet of the servicing process serves to benefit the production capabilities of the producing companies.

Energy production in the U.S. is at an all-time high.  In fact, the U.S. is quickly catching up to foreign production levels. From the oil sands of Alberta, Bakken, Marcellus, Anadarko, Eagle Ford and Permian;shale oil production is quickly increasing.  The use of effective heating solutions can be an important part of the cold-climate production and business strategy.  Companies tasked with the production and servicing within these plays know and understand the critical nature of maintaining production regardless of the environmental conditions.

There are several means of providing heating solutions for the application needs of these oil and gas project sites.  Some of these are:

  • Hot Oilers
  • Steam
  • Truck-Mounted Fluid Treatment
  • Chemical Additives
  • Electrical Heat Trace
  • External Cladding / Insulation
  • Electrically Powered Heat Spreading Technology / Blanketed Systems

 

Here are just a few of the applications in need of freeze protection or temperature control:

  • Frac Tanks
  • Frac Pools
  • Manifolds
  • Piping Systems
  • Valves
  • Instrumentation
  • Holding / Storage Tanks
  • Propane Tanks
  • Diesel Storage / Transfer Tanks

 

As efficient as some of these heating methods are, there is always the need for custom solutions. In fact, some of the heating solutions themselves are in need of heat protecting their on-board systems.

The bottom line is there’s an essential need for heating solutions to protect everything from fluids to equipment and instrumentation. These solutions are not an expense; they’re an investment in sustainable production.

Cold Weather Concreting – Protection Is Essential

A Concrete Curing Solution 2When pouring concrete in cold weather, protection is critical. Hopefully it’s part of your plan.  You don’t have to take our word for, there’s plenty of documentation substantiating the need for precautionary measures. While some options have proven to be better than others, a few of the more common are as follows:

  • Chemical additives
  • Standard insulation blankets
  • Hydronic heating systems
  • Electrically-powered concrete curing
  • Poly/tarp cover with forced air heat applied

Concrete producers use several methods to help contractors. The three most common methods used my concrete producers are as follows:

  • Cold-weather concrete mix design
  • Chemicals added at the plant
  • Chemicals added on-site

In some situations there is the luxury of project postponement in favor of better climate temperatures.  However, in most cases, schedules and deadlines make it necessary to place concrete in less than favorable conditions. Penalties and fines for not meeting defined schedules can be the difference between a profitable or unprofitable job. In these cases, all factors need to be taken into consideration.  Insuring proper concrete curing while sustaining concrete strength and durability is critical.  Providing a concrete curing solution that enhances the process may be just as important.

As mentioned earlier, there are new methods that make cold-weather concreting less stressful than it’s been in the past.  These methods have improved over time due in large part to improvements in technology.

New technological advancements help in the following ways:

  • Prevent damage as a result of freezing at an early stage of cure
  • The development of sufficient, specified strengths in a timely fashion
  • Insure durability and long-term structural integrity
  • Keeps projects on schedules

Don’t wait till the last minute to choose a proper heating solution. The parameters and objectives of each project should drive your decision for a cold-weather concreting solution.  Each solution in turn should be evaluated on the merits of the benefits they provide.  The selection of a proper solution can enhance the placement and curing process.

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Tank Heating: Choosing the Right Solution

Powerblanket Tank HeatersTank heating and the general protection of tank contents is a serious business. Frac tanks, fluid heating systems, totes, vac trucks, and specialty tanks all have heating and freeze protection issues in cold climate conditions. These applications represent ongoing challenges for those whose livelihoods are dependent on the sustainable utilization of these fluids. Production and servicing operations thrive on economic efficiencies. Having a reliable and sustainable tank heating solution is just common sense. In some instances, you may use multiple heating solutions.

 

The economic impact of production delays and shut downs associated with cold weather can be devastating. This is a concern in a wide range of industries and applications such as:

  • Portable Fluids Heating Systems
  • Groundwater Remediation
  • Manifold & Pipe Freeze Protection

 

The prevention of costly delays and preservation of economic efficiencies is critical. Having access to a viable heating solution is often the answer. As mentioned earlier, having alternative heating solutions at one’s disposal is essential. Good planning during the preliminary stages of any project is always a best practice.

 

There are various means of providing heat and freeze protection. Among these are:

  • Electrical Heat Trace
  • Hydronic Systems – Glycol
  • Portable Fluid Heating Systems
  • Immersion Heaters
  • Hot Oilers
  • Steam
  • Electrically-Powered Heated Blankets and Wraps

 

When determining the right heating solution, there are a number of factors to consider.  The following are just a few of the issues that can influence the choice of a tank heating solution.

  • Environmental Conditions
  • Fluid Chemical Characteristics & Specifications
  • Logistics & Site Accessibility
  • Job Site Safety Regulations
  • Hazardous Location Certification Requirements
  • Specific Application Needs
  • Client Expectations
  • Production Schedules
  • Previously Used Methods

 

Heating solutions and technology have come a long way and will continue to make progress. It’s important to look at and evaluate the options available.  Keep in mind that specific applications may require customized solutions. Not all heating solutions have that versatility.  Do the research to determine the method that best meets your needs and expectations.  Don’t judge the solution only based on its features and cost. Consider the value of the benefits the solution provides.

Do Railroad Operations Benefit from Heating Solutions?

Train yard in the snowRailroad operations, like other industries, need to be prepared with heating solutions from the effects of seasonal climate change. The diversified winter patterns that include snow, ice, wind, storms, and temperature fluctuation can all influence effective operations.

For this reason, preparations need to be made that take the following issues into consideration:

  • Snow and Ice Melting or Thawing
  • Signal and Instrument Freeze Protection
  • Sustainable Equipment Operation
  • Propane Tank Maintenance
  • Temperature-Sensitive Product Storage

While other applications need to be addressed, these are a few of the more obvious.

It goes without saying that railway safety and the achievement of economic efficiencies are priorities for the entire industry.  There are several areas of concern but few are more important in realizing these objectives than:

  1. Maintenance of Way
  2. Signals and Communications
  3. Scanners
  4. Hot Box Detectors (HBD)
  5. Dragging Equipment Detectors (DED)
  6. Wayside Detectors Systems

Each of these areas has their own specialized equipment needs, but both take heating solutions into account when addressing the challenges of winter weather.  For example, products such as greases, lubricants, and chemicals used in day-to-day maintenance can pose an application problem. These products are usually stored in drums, pails, totes, or large tank.  The viscosity due to cold climate may restrict their use, thus delaying the maintenance process.  Heating these products prior to application prevents downtime.  Prevention of downtime in turn saves money and keeps operations on schedule.

At first glance some of these matters may seem less than critical in nature.  When you consider the impact of railroad transport on the overall economy, the equation changes.  According to the American Association of Railroads, six commodities account for over 75% of the shipping Tons Originated and 69% of the Gross Revenue for railroad transport. These commodity categories are:

  • Coal
  • Chemicals & Applied Products
  • Farm Products
  • Non-Metallic Minerals
  • Miscellaneous Mixed Shipments
  • Food & Kindred Products

Perhaps you ask what purpose or significance these statistics serve. The costs associated with impeding on-time delivery of goods and services can have an effect both economically and environmentally. What this points out is the significance of advanced planning in anticipation of seasonal and climatic changes. This includes cold-weather heating solutions, which can impact some geographic areas for six months to an entire year. Benefits of an effective heating solution are:

  • Prevent snow and ice buildup from impeding  service levels
  • Provide freeze protection for continuous operation
  • Keep signals, communication equipment and instrumentation operational
  • Ensure accurate transmittal of incident data
  • Reduce transportation slowdowns, delays, and stoppages
  • Maintain schedules and on-time delivery of goods

Do railway operations benefit from effective heating solutions? We at Powerblanket believe our heating products are an integral part of keeping America’s rail network running. Contact us at 888.316.6324 or [email protected] to get in touch with our railroad heating products specialists. 

How Does Construction Benefit from Heating Solutions in Cold Weather?

Regulations on Diesel Affect Mining, Construction, and Agriculture 2Cold climate and winter conditions often pose challenges for construction projects of all kinds. Precautions should be taken in an effort to prepare and plan for such conditions. Think about the heating solutions that can combat the cold. Here are some benefits from addressing these issues during the planning stages of any project:

  • Eliminate or reduce costly down time
  • Keep the project on schedule
  • Reduce labor charges
  • Eliminate the need to employ non-budgeted services to provide necessary relief
  • Avoid fines / penalties associated with non-compliance to schedules and completion dates
  • Provides a safe work environment
  • Protect temperature-sensitive materials

Cold-climate conditions have an effect on applications across multiple industry segments. A few of these would include:

  • General Construction
  • Concrete Construction
  • Oil & Gas Production & Services
  • Railroad
  • Mining
  • Agriculture
  • Food Processing

In order to emphasize this point let’s take a look at just a few examples.

Concrete Construction: The issue of placing concrete in winter has standards and regulations that address the specific need for providing a heating solution. The American Concrete Institute specifically addresses the issue of Cold Weather Concreting in its Committee 306. While it does not go to the extent of describing the type of winterization process be utilized it does address this critical need. There are several common methods and processes, each with its own benefits. Among these are:

  • Glycol / Hydronic Systems
  • Forced Air Heaters
  • Chemical Additives
  • Poly Cover
  • Standard Insulating Blankets
  • Electrically-Powered Curing Blankets

Among the benefits derived from winterization process in this concrete construction example:

  • Ability to continue to place/pour concrete in cold weather
  • Achieve acceptable PSI levels within specified time frame
  • Meet critical deadlines / schedules
  • Maintain structural integrity of concrete
  • Meet or exceed specification requirements

Oil & Gas Production and Services: There are plenty of examples to go around here. The importance of continued production is of paramount importance to the producers and service providers alike. Downtime and lack of production can cost tens of thousands of dollars on a daily basis. The additional costs associated with outside service providers to get a project back on line can also be prohibitive. These issues can impact the process at any level: drilling, pumping, pipeline product transfer/flow, hydraulic fracturing, back flow, completion, etc. Those costs can ultimately end up being passed on to the consumer of the respective commodity.

Some of the alternative sources of heating solution and freeze protection are:

  • Conventional Heat Trace & Insulation
  • Steam / SteamTruck
  • Hot Oilers
  • Glycol
  • Propane
  • Insulation of tanks/vessels
  • Electrically-Powered Heating Blankets

Among the benefits associated with heating and freeze protecting processes associated with Oil & Gas:

  • Maintain acceptable production rates
  • Sustain pipeline flow
  • Prevent costly downtimes
  • Protect tank contents

Freeze protect water, fluids, chemicals stored in tanks

Finally, address the cold climate and harsh environmental conditions early in the pre-construction phase. There are options and alternatives available for the right heating solution for each situation. Perform the due diligence and make your determination based on that which provides the optimum result for your given project.

How Does Heat Help Cure Precast Concrete?

precast concrete manhole baseThe precast concrete industry, much of which focuses on custom projects and applications, adheres to a strict standard of quality controls for production purposes. These quality controls include paying close attention to the raw materials such as sand, cement, aggregates, chemicals (if needed) and water used in the process and development of the proper mix design. All of the quality control measures taken and all the attention paid to the details and standards set forth by National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA) would be rendered somewhat meaningless if proper curing procedures and techniques were not followed closely.

There is a growing pattern and demand for higher compressive strengths and being able to realize those PSI ratings in a shorter curing cycle time. While these issues can challenge production at any time it is particularly challenging during periods of the year when cold weather becomes a factor. Common problems encountered during the cold-climate times of the year can include but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Potential freezing in the early stages of placement
  • Inability to achieve required compressive strengths within a specified period of time
  • Improper curing procedures
  • Frequent and /or rapid temperature change

One of the more critical elements in the curing process is moisture retention. The evaporation rate of this moisture needs to be controlled as well as possible and cold weather is an unacceptable excuse or reason for delaying production.  Cycle time can obviously take longer during periods of cold weather and we all know that time is money. In situations where the ambient temperature slows both the evaporation rate and thus the curing time utilizing heat in conjunction with moisture curing has proven to be a successful solution to the problem. I can site an example where the use of electrically powered heating blankets which provided an even distribution of heat also critical to the successful accomplishment of proper cure and compressive strength reduced the cycle time by as much 33 percent.

Two of the most common and conventional means of providing heat in a precast operation during initial cure are steam and hot air. While effective during the “initial” curing stage, neither method is recommended once the concrete slab has attained its “initial” set. The use of an electrically powered heating solution can provide several benefits:

  • Freeze protection
  • Sustainability of acceptable temperatures to enhance cure
  • Accelerate the achievement of specified compressive strength levels while preventing rapid temperature fluctuations during the curing cycle

I encourage you to understanding the factors that impact precast concrete production and general concrete construction in cold-weather and the standards to which you are looking and needing to adhere to.

Can Electrically Heated Concrete Blankets be Used for Other Purposes?

Powerblanket Concrete Curing BlanketYes. Electrically heated concrete blankets serve more than one purpose, especially in flatwork / concrete and general construction. Examples include:

  • curing concrete
  • thawing ground to protecting temperature-sensitive materials
  • preheating surfaces prior to concrete, coating, epoxy, sealer, or material placement
  • pre-heating and curing on the same project
  • pre-heating a deck prior to concrete placement
  • protecting sub-grades and surfaces from frost prior to pour
  • Accelerating cure times and PSI levels critical to reducing downtime and meeting scheduled deadlines

It may be more appropriate to refer to these types of products as “heating solutions” instead of “blankets” to not confuse them with the common insulating blankets. These do not generate any heat themselves and rely on other sources of heat to make them a viable option.

3 things to look for in an electrically heated concrete blanket that can be used for other purposes:

  1. A product that generates heat but also distributes the heat evenly and efficiently
  2. A product that provides the right insulation so the heat generated is not lost
  3. A solution provider that supplies custom electrically heated blankets so your problem is solved

Tags: concrete blankets, electric concrete blankets

When Should I Use a Standard Versus a Custom Heating Solution?

The Benefits of Investing in a Custom Tank Heater 2The answer varies based on your application. Both standard and custom heating solutions may work depending on your short and long-term objectives. By understanding your application needs and expectations we can help you solve your problem.

For example, I recently talked to a potential customer who uses a horizontal, precast concrete curing application with a specific and defined heating requirement and a time-limited PSI outcome. I also learned that their projects differed in both layout and design configuration, which adds to the complexity and solution.

So, while a custom heating solution may provide the optimum outcome, the customer thought that a custom blankets for each job would cost too much. This led to me helping them find a more practical solution while not loosing site of the desired outcome.

Standard heating blankets come in many sizes that can easily conform to the multiple job layouts when used in combination. Also, an occasional custom may provide the right answer for a unique project. And, sometimes both a standard and custom solution in combination works best.

That is what we do…find the right solutions for your heating needs.