First Thermal Heaters’ history can be traced back nearly 70 years to the building of THE FIRST OPERATING DOWTHERM A VAPORIZER for the Dow Chemical Company soon after Dowtherm A was invented. In fact, our predecessors pioneered this market, developing both the applications and the equipment for what was then a revolutionary alternative to high pressure steam for industrial heat transfer.

Organic vapor phase heating continued to be the principal system used for indirect process heating where high temperature heat transfer was required, until the mid-1950’s. There are over 1,000 successful installations of this type of equipment. First Thermal still builds these “VAPORIZERS” because vapor phase heat transfer still makes sense where it can be used. During this time, most of the liquid phase heaters were direct fired process heaters or modified hot water boilers. A number of manufacturers adopted these designs for thermal fluid heaters and some still build to these same designs today.

In the 1960’s, high temperature liquid phase systems, employing liquids designed to operate below their boiling points, gained popularity. These “non-vaporizing” fluids opened a broad range of new applications in the CPI, HPI, textile finishing and numerous other industries. Liquid phase systems have many advantages over vapor systems including:

1. Multiple heat users on different process cycles and operating temperatures can be supplied from one liquid heater
2. System engineering is reduced to straightforward hydraulics
3. Heaters operating without vapor pressure are often not subject to local steam boiler codes and restrictions.

In 1964, our predecessors built their first LIQUID TUBE THERMAL FLUID HEATERS. Initially, a direct fired process heater design was used. While the operation of these heaters was satisfactory, it was apparent that there was a great deal of room for improvement. This industry learned that the liquid side heat transfer coefficient is actually better in a continuously curving pipe than in a straight pipe. Therefore, with all other conditions being the same (heating surfaces, velocities, etc.), the thermal fluid film temperature is lower in a helical coil heater than in the straight pipe process heater designs. The lower film temperature contributed to longer fluid life. With the higher cost of most heat transfer fluids, LONG TERM SAVINGS could be achieved simply by using a heater that would extend the life expectancy of the fluid.

Since the original First Thermal brand helical coil, liquid type heater, more than 1,000 of these heaters have been placed in service ranging from less than 100,000 BTU/HR duty to over 80 MM BTU/HR duty, fired on nearly every type of gaseous or liquid hydrocarbon fuel and using heating fluids that include all of the commercial heat transfer liquids as well as vegetable oils and other alternative fluids.

In all of these heaters, there has never been a coil failure due to defective workmanship during the warranty period! Coil failures have been traced back to improper operation, shunted or ignored alarm devices or direct flame impingement due to poor maintenance practices. The First Thermal design has proved to be extremely durable. In one case, a customer returned a First Thermal heater that had been cooked in a fire not related to the heater. The coil was cleaned of internal carbon, the warped shell was repaired, new controls were installed and the unit was returned to its owner. Twenty years after the fire, it was still operational.

First Thermal heaters have a long history of successful operation. This history serves as a foundation for continuing innovation and superior customer service. We are confident that we offer the best industrial heater available in the market place and would welcome the opportunity to make you part of the First Thermal tradition of excellence.

Integrity ~ Safety Culture ~ Quality ~ Learning Organization
Balanced Partnerships ~ Reward Performance

First Thermal Heaters provides a level of quality control that isn’t available from most other vendors. This is because every heater sold by First Thermal is built from our own drawings in our ASME Code I and II certified manufacturing facilities. While others may make use of sub-contractors in order to cut costs, we choose to stay in control of building our own product from engineering, to the factory floor, to your door.
13117 Aiken Road | Louisville, KY 40223 | Phone: 800-665-4251 | Fax: 502-244-4046