Operators often use valve insulation jackets or insulation wrapped with heat tape to keep valves warm and prevent freezing. In this article, we’ll explain how valves freeze and highlight a better alternative: a Catco Catalytic Heater.
How Do Valves Freeze?
Frozen instruments can lead to significant production downtime and accompanying frustration. And while freezing ambient temperatures don’t help the situation, valves can freeze anytime during the year.
A primary reason valves freeze is due to pressure drops in the gas flowing through them. The “Joule-Thomson Effect” states that for every 100 psi cut across a valve, the gas experiences a temperature drop of 6-8 degrees (F).
All gas carries some element of moisture in it. This means that when your set-up includes significant pressure drops, you need to be aware of the potential for freezing valves.
How to Prevent Freezing Valves
To prevent freezing, some producers wrap their vulnerable valves with insulation and heat tape. While it’s better than nothing, this is an inefficient and messy way to prevent freezing. To repair your control valve, you will have to cut the tape and insulation away to get access to the valve, and then replace it when you are finished.
Other producers rely on valve insulation jackets. These provide some cover from ambient temperatures. However, valve insulation jackets do not provide significant protection from freezing due to pressure cuts inside the valves.
A good alternative to these options is using a Catco Catalytic Heater. Here are six advantages of the Catco:
- The heater’s surface reaches a maximum of 700°F and has approval for hazardous environments
- A hinge door provides operators with easy access for valve maintenance or repair
- You can focus the Catco’s radiant heat on the valve or pipeline, whichever area is most likely to freeze
- They are custom designed for Kimray valves
- With no moving parts, the heater will operate indefinitely with a clean fuel supply
Catco Catalytic Heaters provide a cost-effective solution to freezing valves. Install them on your site, and you can rest assured your valves are warm and flowing.
For more about how operating in winter, check out our video 5 Tips for Oil & Gas Production in Cold Weather.