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Copper tube in steam heat tracing

Purpose of steam tracing

  • keep the fluid inside to prevent solidifying due to wax separation, crystallization and water freezing.
  • Maintain the fluidity of highly viscous products, e.g. no flow situations, shutdown, isolated lines, etc.
  • To avoid fluid component separation due to low temperature.
  • To prevent freezing of water-containing process fluid.
  • To prevent corrosive compounds forming if condensation occurs.
  • To prevent condensation of gaseous process fluids.
  • To prevent cold brittleness of piping material.
  • To prevent hydrate formation in pipelines due to low temperature.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steam Heat Tracing

Steam heat tracing utilizes a pipe containing low pressure steam attached to and insulated with the pipe containing the fluid. Heat from the steam pipe is used to heat the other pipe and the fluid within it. This type of system is beneficial in a plant that already has access to steam through a boiler. Enabling a steam heat tracing system is not as costly in this system because the steam used to generate the heat is already present through the condensation from the plant's boiler processes. Where steam is already present because a boiler system is in place, steam heating is much less costly. Steam heat systems are also less likely to experience system failure than electric heat tracing systems. They also heat up more quickly than electric heat tracing systems and are considered a safe option. Condensate produced from the heat tracing system can be reused at the boiler, which is also an advantage.

The downfall of a steam heat tracing system is that it requires more labor to install and it also requires more routine maintenance than an electric system and operates best when used in short distances.


Copper tube as tracer material

Standard: ASTM B68 or B75copper lwc, annealed copper tube

Temper: Annealed

Size requirements:

3/8" O.D. x .032" Wall thickness(10 mm O.D. x 1 mm Wall thickness)

1/2" O.D. x .035" Wall thickness(12 mm O.D. x 1 mm Wall thickness)

3/4" O.D. x .049" Wall thickness(20 mm O.D. x 1.2 mm Wall thickness)

Temperature: If the traced item exceed 4000°F (204°C), the copper tube is not suitable for tracer material