Steam vs. Electric Heating — The Basics | AIChE

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Steam vs. Electric Heating — The Basics

November
2020

Consider process requirements and plant operating goals to determine the optimal heating source for your facility.

Most facilities in the chemical process industries (CPI) require some form of heat. The amount of heat required and the necessary level of consistency can vary from process to process. Engineers must decide on a heating source that works best for a particular process. Choosing the wrong type of heating source can have a variety of negative consequences. On the benign end, an inefficient heating source increases operating expenses. Inefficient heating may not achieve temperature setpoints, increasing waste or rejection rates and impairing quality. At the other end of the spectrum, frozen pipes and feedstock lines could trigger a plant shutdown.

Facilities commonly generate heat using electricity or steam. The goals of the plant and the nature of the process help to determine which heating source is best suited to the application. The process requirements will help guide the optimal heating approach. In some cases, the optimal approach may be a combination of steam and electric heating.

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