FULTON – THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN THERMAL FLUID TECHNOLOGY
The Fulton name has been synonymous with heat transfer solutions since the company first introduced the vertical tubeless steam boiler in 1949 and Fulton was established in Bristol in 1966. Today, Fulton is still one of the world’s leading manufacturers and produces an unrivalled range of multi-fuel-fired steam and hot water boilers but, as Ian Halliwell (the company’s recently appointed national thermal fluid specialist) explains, Fulton isn’t a name many have considered when specifying thermal oil systems. Until now!
Often referred to as a steam boiler manufacturer, Fulton also specialises in heat transfer solutions and as such considers all options – steam, hot water and thermal fluid – when responding to a customer’s requirements. In many cases, and to meet current trends, systems are manufactured as ready-to-ship, skid-mounted or packaged plant rooms; and are sold with training courses, service contracts and extended warranties to eliminate any areas of concern throughout the lifespan of the system.
Fulton’s thermal technology
Fulton’s thermal fluid heaters feature a four-pass, high-efficiency design that pre-heats combustion air. Their compact construction can, like many Fulton heat transfer systems, be skid-mounted with circulating pumps, expansion vessels and related pipework; and the range includes models with heat outputs to 3500kW with standard operating temperatures of 345°C (temperature outputs of 400°C are also available with optional heater enhancements and suitable thermal fluids).
A combined expansion tank and de-aerator that has been designed by Fulton allows nitrogen to be introduced to protect the thermal fluid from oxidisation, which means that the tank does not necessarily have to be situated at the highest point in the system. This is a particular advantage where plant room height is restricted or when a system is skid-mounted for a compact installation.
“Design and manufacturing resources for each thermal fluid project are shared and coordinated with Fulton Thermal Corporation in the USA but, no matter where your product originates, it will always be produced to the highest quality in a facility that is wholly owned and managed by the Fulton Group, whichstill remains a privately-owned family business.” says Ian.
The smallest of Fulton’s thermal systems is the twelve-model, electrically-heated FT-N range. Its compact, vertical design has the capacity to operate at temperatures up to 340°C and its low-Watt density elements provide low film temperatures and long element life. Heat outputs range from the 22kW FT-N0075 to the 504kW FT-N1720.
Fulton’s other vertical thermal system is the highly-efficient FT-C, an eleven-model range with outputs from 235kW to an impressive 4.1mW and operating temperatures to 345°C. The Fulton FT-C offers a compact, fuel-fired, four-pass heater design to allow for high fluid velocities and low film temperatures, which translates into system longevity. The FT-C’s compact design gives it the ability to be skid-mounted and means minimal floor space is required.
Fulton’s largest thermal fluid heater is the three-pass horizontal FT-HC, which features eight models with heat outputs from 0.7mW to 5.9mW and operating temperatures to 345°C. While the largest in terms of heat output the FT-HC is still compact and, like Fulton’s other thermal heaters, can be packaged as a skid-mounted system and is available with low emission gas burners and alternative fuel capabilities.
Thermal fluid versus steam
With Ian’s recent appointment, Fulton now has its first dedicated thermal fluid specialist in the UK, which means the company is now better placed to offer customers an unbiased review of their heat transfer requirements and can compare thermal systems to conventional steam and electric alternatives. What is also essential is that Fulton’s new and existing customers are given the right advice, and Ian looks forward to ensuring that thermal fluid systems are recognised as a viable alternative to other heat transfer systems for many applications.
But, as Ian explains, at what point does thermal become the best or most cost-effective solution for a process?
“The choice between adopting steam or thermal systems is determined by the requirements of the process and its temperature range. In general, if the process requires a temperature above 0°C and below 180°C, steam is usually the first choice. However, if the required process temperature is below 0°C or above 180°C, thermal fluid is often the better solution.” says Ian.
He goes on to say that thermal systems, unlike steam, provide useable temperature with very little pressure, no flame, fewer regulations and lots of control.
Thermal technology in action
Despite being the best kept secret in thermal fluid technology, Fulton does have an enviable track record of thermal heater installations in the UK and, for one recent application, one of its FT-C vertical coil thermal fluid heaters replaced a live steam system at Interfuse that was proving too expensive to operate.
Interfuse is a family-run business specialising in the manufacture of precast masonry blocks, which are distributed throughout the country through builders’ merchants. The company’s plants, which are amongst the most advanced facilities of their kind in the UK, are capable of producing around 21 million dense and lightweight blocks per year in a range of sizes; with solid, cellular and hollow formats; and with standard and close textured finishes.
The manufacturing process for the building blocks uses a press to precast the products and a series of kilns to provide heat for rapid curing. At its Gainsborough site, Interfuse installed a Fulton FT-C heater to replace its live steam system.
Commenting on the installation, Interfuse works manager Len Parks says: “Using live steam for the curing process at Gainsborough was costing the company in the region of £20,000 per month in fuel costs alone, so although the change to the Fulton FT-C thermal fluid boiler proved to be a significant investment, especially during the downturn in the building and construction market, the thermal fluid system’s operating costs are about a tenth of those for the steam system, so we are expecting to achieve payback in three to four years.”
Whilst the decision to change to thermal fluid was based on the company’s positive experience over a number of years with a German-manufacturer boiler at its Syston facility, Interfuse decided that UK-based service and support was essential for the new boiler. “Fulton’s UK base was a big incentive when choosing the replacement.” says Len.
Highlighting other significant reasons for the change, Len confirms that thermal fluid is much cleaner than the original steam installation and the maintenance costs are significantly lower because no annual strip-down is required. In addition, there are no associated costs for mains water, water softeners or chemicals to run the system, nor are there pressure regulations to adhere to.
For further information on its thermal fluid systems, including the FT-C vertical coil, FT-N vertical electric and FT-HC horizontal coil heaters,call Fulton on 0117 972 3322, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fulton.co.uk