Countless thermal oil plants worldwide provide reliable and safe service daily. Thermal oil plants are however operated regularly with mineral or synthetic heat transfer oils. Since these are often heated beyond their flash point, appropriate safety measures to prevent fires are to take and to be monitored permanently during construction and operation of thermal oil plants. When these measures are implemented consistently, these “hot oil plants” can be operated smoothly and reliably over decades.
According to information of the HDI-Gerling Versicherung, the main risks for thermal oil plants (also called „heat transfer oil plants“) can be summarized as follows:
- Leakages, caused by corrosion in the piping system
- Leakages from pumps
- Cracking processes in the used thermal oil – risk of lower flash point and coke
These risks however can practically be avoided by a careful and conscientious planning, design and operation of the thermal oil plant. Imperative in this context is a consistent implementation of the given protective measures and safety regulations by manufacturers and operators. Our recommendations:
Consult qualified and certified manufacturers
Only experienced plant manufacturers who have suitably qualified employees as well as verifiable planning and production standards and who know and apply the relevant regulations, ensure a careful planning and manufacture of safe thermal oil plants.
Know existing sets of rules and apply them consistently
For the manufacture and operation of thermal oil plants, a number of safety standards and regulations apply. In Germany, these are in particular
- DIN 4754, DIN EN 13455 and DIN EN 13480
- VDI Guideline 3033
- Industrial Safety Regulation
- European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EU
- European Pressure Equipment Directive 2014/68/EU
- AD 2000
Check the thermal oil plant and carry out maintenance work regularly
Thermal oil plants are subject to the industrial safety regulation and are to be regularly checked. Also according to DIN 4754, safety inspections of thermal oil plants and regular oil analyses (coke) are mandatory at least once a year. Only a regularly maintained plant is safe and productive in the long term.Explosion Protection in HTF-Plants (PDF)
Most important factor: The man
Only well educated and regularly trained staff will operate a plant safely and profitably. It is for this reason that the operating personnel is to be trained and instructed before commencing the operation, and regularly afterwards. Therefore good manufacturers offer application-specific instructions and trainings.
The information brochure of Gerling-Versicherung includes many more valuable details such as how heat transfer oil plants can be operated permanently safe and reliable by constructional, plant technical and organizational precautions. It can be downloaded here.