Cooling off with Sustainability – World Of Chemicals Interview

Olivier Lallement, Head of Sales, Tantec GmbH delves into the changing demands in the heat exchangers segment and points out how tantalum can change the industry dynamics in the future.

Article written by Shivani Mody, courtesy of Chemical Today magazine (link below)

Global trends in heat exchangers segment for chemical industry.

The market for tantalum heat exchangers is on a continuous growth trend, particularly in the segments of condensers, reboilers and evaporators.

Over the last decades more and more heat exchangers using graphite technology before having been replaced by tantalum as material of construction (MOC).

The well-known advantages of Tantalum heat exchangers – having more reliability, no need of spare parts, longer lifetime, used for multi batch purposes – will continue this trend also in the future.

Beyond the material, the heat exchanger design has evolved from cemented to welded technology. Also the sizes of the heat exchangers have increased meanwhile. Especially in the tantalum technology units with surfaces of 50m2 could be considered as a large unit in the early 2000s. For reference, now we manufacture equipment larger than 400m2 for instance and the trend for equipment larger than 100m2 will become the new standard size.

Advantages that Tantalum material offers over other materials.

In today’s world, where maintenance periods, downtime and the associated loss of production play a role at least as important as procurement prices, components made from Tantalum offer an outstanding price/performance ratio. Tantalum is seen as a comparatively expensive material. However, Tantalum is very cost-effective once you take into consideration both the considerably longer lifespan and very low maintenance requirements, both of which derive from the extremely high resistance to corrosion.

The common metallic materials are often less suitable due to a high corrosion rate when acids such as sulphuric acid (H2SO4), nitric acid, (HNO3), hydrochloric acid (HCl), phosphoric acid (H3PO4) are processed at high temperatures and high concentrations. In such cases tantalum is the first choice for heat exchangers and other equipment.
Non-metallic materials can often be discarded because of their disadvantages, for example for processes in the pharmaceutical industry where product purity has utmost priority.

Because of its durability, Tantalum is a valuable material. That is precisely what we seek to substantiate when we guarantee to take Tantalum components back from you once they reach the end of their many years of operational use. The material can be recycled any number of times, and in this way TANTEC is able to make a contribution to introducing valuable raw materials to new applications, rather than disposing of them.

Growth factors for the heat exchangers market.

All the HCL and H2SO4 chemical industry is a growing market right now: Distillation, Evaporation, TDI, MDI are all possible areas of application. For instance, TDI is used for the production of polyurethane, coatings etc. We see this specific market’s growth in Asia, Europe and also in America. This is also a factor which will lead to growth of the heat exchangers market.

Pandemic impact on global heat exchangers market.

The outbreak of the pandemic has not significantly affected the market. Some projects were delayed but most of them have re-started meanwhile. There is a considerably high demand for our tantalum market segment and several major projects are expected beyond this.

Many of the key end-customers in this industry have CAPEX investment approved to expand. When tantalum material is considered, this is either to upgrade existing material technology and/or to expand the plant production output (facility expansion and/or capacity).

Also Asia and among that too especially China is still the main driver for this market growth as we experience it right now. Europe and North America are consolidating with consistent demand as well, but the major investments are still made in China.

Company’s heat exchangers business for global markets.

Tantec GmbH is certainly the worldwide leading manufacturer of tantalum and niobium equipment. With its focus on Tantalum and Niobium, Tantec GmbH has over the years become the #1 equipment manufacturer in this MOC segment, and in this capacity helped its customers in their growing development.

As the leading company in processing and treatment of Tantalum, TANTEC sets the standard for quality. Each component produced by us is subject to the most stringent quality control measures.Not only does this involve step-by-step process inspections and final inspections, but incoming components inspections of our semi-finished goods also play a decisive role in ensuring the quality expect by our custimers.

Straight Shell and Tubes heat exchangers and Bayonets types are the two main designs for the construction of tantalum heat exchangers. Trend is for larger reboilers and highest demand for condensers with shell and tubes designs, and strong demand for bayonets construction for the evaporation processes.

Company’s R&D and innovation for heat exchangers.

R&D and innovation is always on our mind when we manufacture tantalum equipment. Our focus on R&D has led the company to build the largest tantalum heat exchangers ever produced in the world and develop special design for piping/fittings that are connected to these heat exchangers or other equipment like columns or vessels.

Effect of renewable energy sources usage on heat exchangers.

We are already helping our customers with best optimized heat exchangers, calculating thermal ratings to figure out the best and resource-efficient design and dimensions for their production needs. Therefore, we already help our customers to lower their energy consumption, as tantalum has by far a very good thermal conductivity and a much better efficiency compared to other technology like graphite or ceramics in general. This leads to smaller size equipment needed running to produce the same results.

After sales service and repairs during real time operations.

The company has a wide sales network covering the main regions in the world where our tantalum heat exchangers are installed. But also due to its welded technology and its corrosion resistance, tantalum does not require much after sales or repair services. Nevertheless, we can send our welders on site for light service and in general most of tantalum equipment can be sent back to Tantec for expertise, service and possible repair, no matter who manufactured it in the past. This in turn helps to minimize the waste of resources.

Challenges faced in the heat exchangers equipment segment.

For the tantalum heat exchanger industry, higher demand also means that higher production capacity is required. Due to this level of technology involved and the material’s integrity, tantalum is not an easy material to weld and only very few welders are really qualified worldwide and it takes months or even years to qualify a good tantalum welder. In essence, our biggest challenge right now is to accompany the growing demand with increased manufacturing capacity.

© Chemical Today Magazine