Oil Preheat Tank

The Problem

It was suspected that the overheating of an oil preheat tank may become a potential fire hazard. An in-depth analysis was required to understand the thermal characteristics of the tank which consisted of several complicated compartments separated by baffles. Several steam pipes were fitted in order to heat the oil to the required temperature. It was thought that hot spots may be generated in the tank due to insufficient circulation.

The Approach

The complicated 3D geometry was modelled and meshed resulting in mesh of approximately 5 million cells. Due to the model size, advanced parallel processing techniques were utilised. Numerical techniques included natural convection, thermal boundaries and user programming of non-linear fluid properties and numerous configurations, scenarios and boundary conditions were analysed.

The Result

The analysis indicated that certain critical temperatures could be reached with some configurations and scenarios. This prompted a more in-depth analysis through the construction of a scaled down physical model of the problem complete with various temperature and monitoring equipment. The experimental results compared very well to the simulation providing further proof of the existence of unwanted hot spots in the design.