How to Heat Drums and IBCs
Drum heating and IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container) heating is undertaken for the purpose of increasing the temperature of liquids inside. The primary reason for increasing the temperature of liquids is to reduce the viscosity which is highly affected by heat. Drum and IBC heating and thus viscosity control can be achieved through a range of methods such as the use of Band Heaters, Heating Blankets, or Base Heaters.
The main reasons for heating Drums and IBCs
- Viscosity Control. Apart from controlling the temperature of a liquid, there is no effective alternative to change liquid viscosity. Liquid viscosity is significantly affected by heat. As the temperature of a liquid increases viscosity decreases. This relationship is exceptional rather than linear, with the most viscous liquids being the most sensitive to temperature changes. (Learn more at: ThermoBlanket Reducing Viscosity) Producers want to control viscosity for a wide range of reasons including;
- Improving how liquid flows. This often is an issue when down packing, or when spreading liquids.
- Improving how liquids mix. Liquids with similar viscosities are easier to mix and combine.
- Reducing wastage or delays. High viscosity liquids can cause a range of machinery and wastage issues and cause significant production delays or costs.
- Temperature based reactions. In many production environments liquids needs to be heated or kept at a constant temperature to enable reactions, keep the materials stable, or enable use in other production processes. Controlling the temperature of liquids in drums and IBC’s, for this reason, is common in many industries that work with chemicals, vaccines, or the production of beverages such as beer.
- Freeze Protection. Liquids in Drums and IBC’s stored in warehouses naturally assume the ambient temperature of their environment. During winter they may hit freezing or near freezing. When production wants to use liquid products the next morning they often find the liquid is not a suitable temperature to enable production to begin. Additionally, some liquid products may spoil in freezing conditions.
Using temperature to control viscosityBy introducing heat to a liquid (in a Drum or IBC for example) a producer can reduce its viscosity, and therefore reduce or eliminate many of the production problems when working with highly viscous liquids.
Heating Drums and IBCsThere are a number of ways heat can be applied to Drums, IBCs, or other containers of liquid. Some of these are better than others.
- Heating Drums and IBCs with the sun. By placing the IBC or Drum or other containers in the right amount of sunlight the temperature can be increased. This is only effective in some climates. It offers limited temperature control, is unreliable, and leaves products and containers subject to elements.
- Heating Drums and IBCs with Heat Lamps or overhead heaters. In some production scenarios, overhead heaters or heat lamps are used to control the temperature in products or keep them consistent by reducing heat loss. While effective for certain requirements, this is usually not an ideal or efficient method for heating drums or IBCs.
- Drum and IBC hot rooms. Hot rooms or heated rooms are designed to maintain a higher ambient temperature for the storage or heating products. Hot rooms can be a significant capital cost but can be cost-effective if you are heating bulk qualities for ongoing periods of time. For example, if a producer is are heating tens of IBC’s or drums and they wanting everything being at the same temperature. Hot rooms work by slowly (through the surrounding air) rising the liquid temperature inside a drum or IBC to the ambient heated room temperature.
- Drum and IBC Immersion Heating. Immersion heaters are internal heaters that drop or slot into the container and directly contact the liquid. Immersion Heaters can be effective at raising the temperature in liquids. The downside to Immersion Heaters is they not recommended for all liquids.
- Drum Band Heaters Band heaters are wrap-around flexible silicone (or sometimes metal) bands that deliver heat to the drum or container. Band heaters can be an economical option for the heating of drums. These heaters can come with pre-set thermostats or individual controllers which affects the cost. Band heaters are popular with users of plastic drums or containers. The downsides to band heaters are the exposed nature of the product, the lack of insulation (Wasted heat and potential safety issues), and that the smaller area being heated can lead to issues with some liquids.
- Drum and IBC Base Heaters. Drum Base Heaters and IBC Base Heaters are heating solutions that sit under an IBC or a drum. For an IBC this usually takes the form of a silicon heating mat, and for drum heatings, this usually is a metal base heater unit. Base heaters only transfer heat to the bottom of a container so in some cases are combined with the use of insulated blankets (to stop heat escaping) or heated blankets (to enable the fastest possible heating).
- Heating Blankets. Drum Heating Blankets and IBC Heating Blankets are wrap-around insulated heating blankets specifically designed for heating drums and IBC’s. They are the most common method for enabling accurate temperature and viscosity control in drums and IBCs. Featuring digital (or sometimes analog) controllers these blankets enable producers to accurately heat products to their desired temperature and viscosity. The large heating coverage area is another advantage of heating blankets, as they enable steady, even heating of the Drum or IBC.
- Non-Drum or IBC Containers. Not all producers use drums or IBCs in their production processes. For smaller containers, Drum Heating Blankets are available in different sizes, for example, for 105L drums. For larger containers (or tanks), often similar methods to above will be used, or an appropriate sized Industrial Heating Blanket may be mounted to the container or tank.
- Heating Pipes to enable the liquid better flow. In order to stop pipes clogging with high viscous liquids, some producers heat the pipe with a custom size Industrial Heating Blanket.
Maintaining temperature inside Drums and IBCs
- Insulation Covers. In order to minimise heating loss during heating, after heating, or overnight, often producers will use insulated blankets or covers to help maintain the temperature in products. Drum and IBC heating blankets have their own insulation but as these products usually only cover the sides, a Drum or IBC Insulation Lid can be added. When not actively heating a drum or an IBC, producers still often seek to have extra layers of protection between products and the ambient temperature to minimise heat loss (or gain). For these situations, there are a number of insulation blankets options for Drums and IBCs.