Over the past 18 months, Rotherham-based Inditherm has increased its focus on heating and insulation solutions for the water-utilities sector. At a time when energy costs are spiralling, and projects for the AMP4 programme are getting under way, the company is aiming its products to help utilities hit the demanding targets set by the regulator.

The problems

Two key issues facing water utilities and their contractors are energy consumption and health and safety. To reduce energy costs and protect against frost, pipe work and equipment are insulated and, where appropriate, heated. This solution has a number or shortcomings:

  • Heating and insulation of pipes and valves in WTWs and WwTWs has traditionally been achieved with electrical trace heating covered by rock-wool insulation and hard cladding. Occasionally, the cladding has to be removed for maintenance, or simply gets damaged. This leaves exposed insulation and also sharp edges that can injure users.
  • Any exposed trace heating presents a potential safety hazard.
  • On progressive cavity pumps, which often need to be serviced several times a year, this is an even greater problem: the trace heating and insulation are often not replaced, which risks freezing the pump.
  • On chemical-dosing lines, which generally require secondary containment, access is key and is impaired by trace heating and cladding.
  • Chemical tanks that require heating generally use immersion heaters. Some chemicals can freeze around the exterior walls and the immersion heaters are often not effective in melting this.

    Inditherm’s solutions

    Inditherm uses its patented carbon-based conductive-polymer technology for its heating products. This has fabric-like qualities and generates uniform heat over its entire surface. It is ideal for forming around awkward shapes such as valves, or for heating large areas such as concrete decks or even football pitches (the company has its system under three of Chelsea FC’s training pitches in Surrey). Because it operates on low voltage (typically 24-48V AC), it is safe and in many applications uses significantly less energy than alternative systems.

    The company has developed solutions for the water industry to many of the problems above. Inditherm has years of experience of producing heated and unheated removable, insulated jackets. These generally have to be custom made to fit each process and are designed to allow easy removal and access to equipment for maintenance. And, because the materials used are flexible, they will not injure users.

    Chemical dosing lines can be encased in a single, heated jacket. This reduces energy consumption (often by more than 60%). Installation can be completed in a fraction of the time. Users can safely examine the lines, simply by opening the Velcro fasteners and lifting the cover. Additional lines can easily be added later.

    Removable jackets are ideal for heating and insulating progressive cavity pumps, which require frequent maintenance. The jackets can be reused many times and avoid the risk of exposed cladding, insulation or tracing cables.

    Inditherm heating is applied to the outside of tanks, overcoming the problem of chemicals, such as caustic, freezing around the perimeter walls in cold weather. The heating jackets can either be fitted under fixed cladding or made in removable covers, thus allowing easy access to the tank for inspection and maintenance.

    What next?

    With UVDB and supplier approvals now achieved at various water utilities and their AMP4 partners, Inditherm has received orders for several large installations and is working on new projects throughout the UK. The company is also experimenting with heating sewerage sludge lines to reduce the build-up of solid deposits inside pipe work.

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