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The History of Industrial Heating

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Posted on Wednesday, October 5, 2016
By: Dayco Inc.
Categories: Nostalgia and Heritage  |  Industrial Heating

Technological and scientific advances across multiple fields have merged to form the modern Industrial Heating industry. Never before has the industry seen such a maximized peak in heating efficiency, generating the greatest amount of thermal efficiency possible with the least amount of exhausted waste heat.

In the modern era, industrial heating is prominent around the globe. But this has only been the case in recent decades. Prior to that, comfort heating was only present in smaller climates that were easier to control like homes and offices. So how did industrial heating evolve?

First let’s take a quick visit to comfort heating in general. From the beginning of mankind and the discovery of fire, there has been a known need for comfort heating. Back then, it involved keeping the fire burning and carefully (and quickly) moving it from area to area (or cave to cave). But open fires are only about 20% efficient at best, with the majority of heat escaping in the smoke.

The Advent of the Fireplace

Through the early centuries, mankind advanced to fireplaces which marginally increased the heating efficiency. Louis Savot of France invented the raised grate and designed a circulating fireplace in the early 1600s. In England, another improvement was to provide combustion air through a duct from the exterior. A French Cardinal wrote the first comprehensive manual on fireplace design, Mechanique du Feu, in 1713.

In 1845, author Walter Bernan wrote a book on the history of heatingin which he penned, “Though much has been done by ingenious men in the art of distributing heat for household uses; it must be confessed, that in one or two instances only have they been able to make a permanent impression or bring their contrivances into that general use as to constitute them ‘machines of society.”

Early Furnaces

Early furnaces were locally produced for the specific job, there was no heating industry yet. The first U.S. furnace manufacturer was the Richardson & Boynton Co., which began mass marketing furnaces around 1837 and endured through 1942.

Early furnaces were rated by fire pot size and by the volume of building air that they would heat. There was no standard for rating, and identical furnaces sported different ratings by different manufacturers. Outlandish, unsubstantiated claims were made and by 1900, many manufacturers had gone out of business or merged due to an intense price war.

General Electric advertised a booster fan designed specifically for furnace application in 1910. A letter was given to the American Society of Ventilating Engineers in 1896 presenting the use of blowers with furnaces. Blowers or disc fans were periodically applied to residential furnaces into the 1920s, after which manufacturers began to take a hard look at equipping furnaces with fans as a standard package. However, package blower-furnace units were not widely available until the 1930s.

Post War Advancement

The booming decade following World War II is described as one of the most prosperous economic eras in American history. With victory under their belts and money in their pockets, Americans in the 1950s optimistically pursued their American dreams. Residential heating contractors benefited directly from the building boom, as shopping centers, new homes, schools, and commercial construction followed the returning veterans and their families into the suburbs.

Industrial heating was soon to follow as American entrepreneurs dreamed bigger. The deplorable work conditions of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1900’s combined with the forming of labor unions to protect the health and welfare of the American worker, spawned the expansion of comfort heating from the home to the factory. Additionally, practical heating applications to augment the industrial production process were introduced.

The Modern Era

Today technological and scientific advances across multiple fields merge to form the modern Industrial Heating industry. Never before has the industry seen such a maximized peak in heating efficiency, generating the greatest amount of thermal efficiency possible with the least amount of exhausted waste heat. For a power cycle, thermal efficiency indicates the extent to which the energy added by heat is converted to net work output. These heaters are widely used throughout various industries for both heating and drying purposes.

The modern American Industrial Heating industry introduced and has perfected:

  • Combustion Systems including custom valve trains for natural gas, oil, oxygen, air, nitrogen and propane.
  • Direct Fired Air Heaters which are one of the most compact heaters available with its robust construction providing reliable, trouble-free operation.
  • Electric Air Heaters which provide an efficient hot air source for ovens, conveyor systems, curing and drying applications.
  • Indirect Fired Air Heaters provide a contaminant free process air supply and typically include burner section, recirculating air blower, pre-piped and wired gas train and control system.
  • Recirculating Air Heaters provide an efficient hot air source for ovens, conveyor systems, curing and drying applications and include burner section, recirculating air blower, pre-piped and wired gas train and control system.

These modern systems are electronically controlled and stabilized by Industrial Heat UL Panels for packaged burner systems, flame safety control, temperature control and custom designed panels for complete process control. Standards of safe performance have evolved over the last century during which electricity has become a common part of our lives. These design standards regulate such items as the system's ability to ignite nearby combustibles, its shock and thermal burn potential to people and animals, the precise ways that it is attached to a structure and connected to an electrical system and its reliability and durability.

The Wrap Up

There’s little doubt that heating technology has come a long way from its humble beginnings of carefully and quickly carrying a burning log from room to room. What the future holds is left to ingenuity, entrepreneurship, fortitude, and the American way. After all, “It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.” said Babe Ruth, and, “When you cease to dream you cease to live” eloquently opined Malcolm Forbes.

Tagged:Heritage, History, Nostalgia, Industrial Air Heaters, Industrial Revolution, Manufacturing, American Industry, combustion systems, high temperature air heaters, process air heaters

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