Asphalt Tank FarmHere are some facts related to the seven advantages we listed in our ad entitled UNMATCHED. The ad features Heatec hot oil heaters and asphalt storage tanks used at HMA plants.

Competitors often claim that their heaters and tanks are the same as ours, but offer them at a lower price. We contend that their products do not match ours and that is why they can sell them for less. So we want buyers to understand why we say our products are unmatched.

All hot oil heaters and tanks perform common functions at an HMA plant. But ours have important features and benefits that set them apart from others. Those benefits reduce operating costs significantly. They more than offset any price advantage of other products.

Let’s look at each of those seven benefits to see how they reduce operating costs.


Thermal efficiency

Most buyers understand that heaters with high thermal efficiency use less fuel than those with lower efficiency. So competitors usually claim their heaters have high thermal efficiency. But what is high? Competitor heaters rarely come close to the numbers we claim: 85% (90% with our Stackpack heat exchanger).

We have found that our heaters have significantly higher efficiency than other heaters. Even a 2% advantage provides worthwhile money savings.

Our Excel spreadsheet Heat Analysis (click to download) makes it easy to compare the fuel savings from heaters with various thermal efficiencies. You type in numbers applicable to your plant and the price you are paying for fuel and the program calculates what savings you can expect.

Actual thermal efficiencies are easy to determine and compare. Remember, the heat in the heater exhaust gas vented into the atmosphere is wasted energy. It can be used to find actual thermal efficiencies.

First measure the temperature of the exhaust gas, also known as stack temperature. Be sure to insert the stem of the thermometer into a port hole near the base of the stack to get the true temperature of the exhaust gas. Then find the thermal efficiency that matches that temperature using our chart (click on the chart for a larger image) that converts stack temperature to thermal efficiency.

We recently made exhaust gas measurements on a new Heatec hot oil heater in our test pit. The heater had a Stackpack heat exchanger and was undergoing its final checkout routine before delivery to the customer. We recorded the temperature below and above its Stackpack.

The temperature below the Stackpack is key to the thermal efficiency of the heater alone. The temperature above the Stackpack is key to the thermal efficiency of the heater plus the extra efficiency gained from the Stackpack.

Now let’s use those measurements to determine its thermal efficiencies. The temperature reading below the Stackpack heat exchanger was 500 degrees F. The chart shows a thermal efficiency of 88% for that temperature. The temperature above the exchanger was 381 degrees. The chart shows a thermal efficiency of 91 percent for that temperature.

So the thermal efficiency of this heater is actually better than our claims. We doubt that competitive heaters can match those numbers. But you may wish to check them for yourself.

Fireye Burner Logic controls

The Fireye controls we use are the most advanced controls available from Fireye. They are vastly superior to the controls others use, especially those that rely on status lights to indicate lockouts. There are no complicated codes for the operator to decipher.

The ones we use provide precise text messages that track operating events as they happen. The text messages also pinpoint any abnormal condition that causes a lockout or shutdown. When we say pinpoint we mean that it indicates exactly which one of nearly a dozen lockout devices caused the shutdown.

Some control systems don’t give any clue as to why the heater has shutdown. Others only indicate that the lockout is caused by one of the devices in the 3-P circuit, but do not pinpoint exactly which one is the cause. Consequently the operator may have to spend considerable time checking numerous devices to determine which one caused the shutdown. So our heater controls are unmatched when it comes to ease of use, something every operator welcomes!

Digital Pressure Switch

Our UE differential pressure switch is used to protect the heater coil in the event of inadequate flow of thermal fluid.

Inadequate flow can cause overheating that quickly destroys the coil. Maintaining adequate flow is critical for the long life of the coil. Coils can last 20 years or more if they are not subjected to overheating.

We now use the most advanced pressure switch available from UE. It is 100 % solid-state microprocessor based with a digital display. It is highly accurate and repeatable. It is also expensive. In years past we tried various pressure switches and none were equal to the switch we now use. So we know from experience it is unmatched and worth the extra cost!

Tank heating coils

The 1100 square feet of heating coil surface in our vertical tanks is significantly more heating surface than you will find in vertical asphalt storage tanks built by others. Coil heating surface area is directly related to how fast you can raise the temperature of asphalt in the tank. So when an asphalt supplier fills the tank with a “cold” load you won’t have long delays while it reaches the required temperature.

We achieve the extraordinary amount of heating surface by using finned pipe.

This reduces the number of coils needed and conserves space in the bottom of the tank. Coils without fins would occupy a significantly greater height in the tank and significantly reduce the usable volume of the tank.

Remember, the asphalt level in the tank needs to always totally cover the heating coils to prevent coking. So you always need to refill the tank before the asphalt level is lower than the topmost coil. Moreover mixers in tanks filled with PMAC do not work adequately when coils are several feet in height.

Just for the record the height of the two-layered finned coil above the bottom of our tank is only 11-5/8 inches. But if the same coils had no fins, seven layers with a height of 40-3/8 inches would be needed. The coils in some tanks on the market have much greater heights, which may severely limit the usability of the tank.

To appreciate just how much coil height affects usability consider that each inch of height above the coils in a vertical tanks is equal to 58.8 gallons.

So our heating coils are unmatched because they provide an extraordinary amount of heating surface while minimizing loss of usable space.


Some tanks on the market lack insulation on the bottom. If you want to get an idea how this affects heat loss just observe what happens to a puddle of water at the bottom of such a tank. It boils!

We have used a thermal imaging camera to detect temperatures at the base of tanks without bottom insulation. The high temperatures we found indicated significant heat loss.

Our tanks have a fully insulated the bottom as well as the tops and sides to minimize heat loss and reduce fuel usage. We use 3 inches of insulation on the bottom and 6 inches on the sides and top.

We then install a metal plate over the entire bottom to cover the insulation and protect it from damage.

Several years ago we created a spreadsheet to compare the heat losses for our TAV30 tank with the heat losses of a similar Gencor tank. The Gencor tank has a much greater heat loss because it has no insulation on its bottom and only 4 inches on its sides and top.

So heat loss for the Gencor tank is 129 million Btu/year greater than ours.

Consequently, it takes almost 1,000 more gallons of No. 2 fuel to heat the Gencor tank every year than it takes to heat our tank. Think of what that adds up to over a period of 20 years. The difference is stunning!


Backup safety shutoff control

Overfilling an asphalt tank can create a big mess and require a lot of cleanup effort. Tank gauge boards, radar level systems and/or level systems using pressure transmitters are normally setup to prevent overfilling a tank. They are wired into circuits that shutoff the unloading pump when the tank is full. But these can fail unexpectedly, especially if they are not properly maintained.

Our backup system uses a highly reliable float with proximity switch to shut off the pump in case the other device fails. It is included on every asphalt storage tank and will pay for itself by preventing overfills and eliminating their cleanup costs. For payback you only need to prevent a single overfill.

Minimal Field Assembly

All tanks require some assembly in the field when the tank is set up. But some tank manufacturers reduce their costs by leaving numerous parts to be assembled in the field by the setup crew.

For example, we have seen competitor tanks with ladder parts that required several man-hours of assembly work by the setup crew. This allows the tank manufacturer to reduce the selling price so the buyer gets the tank for less. But the buyer pays extra after the sale.

We try to minimize the time and effort required for field setup. For example we prefabricate ladders and handrails so they require minimal assembly in the field.

And we prefabricate interconnecting piping using jigs and fixtures to standardize fit up and reduce fit up labor in the field. Moreover, standardized fit up also facilitates adding tanks in the future.

The ability to ship components without incurring shipping damage is the major consideration for what we ship loose for field assembly. We don’t ship loose parts to save on manufacturing costs that the buyer pays for later during setup. This is just another area where our products are unmatched.

Well those are some facts behind the claim that our products are UNMATCHED.

Our goal has never been to make the lowest priced products. Instead, we strive for our products to be the best in quality and best value for the buyer.

Please call us if you would like to know more about our heaters and tanks.