Rail Tank Car Heating

Prior to unloading rail tank cars filled with liquids that have become frozen or non-flowable, they must first go through a reheating process to bring the liquids back up to their respective pour temperature.  Typically, higher viscosity products are transported in insulated rail tank cars equipment with internal heating coils embedded between the inner shell and the outer jacket of the car.  These tank car are then hooked up to steam or hot oil generation systems at the unloaded terminal in order to heat the liquids back up.

Rail Tank Car Heating
How it works

The challenge with rail tanks cars is that because the heating source is located on the bottom outer circumference of the tank, it takes longer to heat the liquids in the center of the tank.  In order to compensate for this, many operators and unloading teams will increase the heating temperature of the steam/oil beyond the desired target flow temperature.  The downside of this strategy is that liquid products can be unnecessarily burned, scalded or discolored.  Additionally, higher steam/oil temperatures increase energy use.

rail tank car mixing
Pulsair TM-2004 mixer


Pulsair solves these problems and more by pulsing large bursts of compressed air or gas up through the bottom discharge drain under the car.  The powerful large compressed bubbles create liquid rotation within the car moving liquids that are near the heating source away allowing for colder liquids to come in contact with the heating source.  In most cases, rail tank car customers using Pulsair report a ~50% drop in heating times in order to reach the desired discharge temperature.

rail car tank blending
How it works

The basic Pulsair rail tank car mixing process can operate solely on compressed or gas providing a safe and effective method for accelerating the heating process of the liquids in the car without inserting anything into the car or requiring the use electricity out in the yard.  Pulsair can provide rail car adapters to hook the air lines to the car or the system can be integrated into unloading arms, custom unloading assemblies or unloading elbows.

rail tank car blending

Rail Tank Car Heating Benefits:

  • Proven to shorten time-to-temperature heating process
  • More energy efficient than air spargers or mechanical mixers
  • No parts inside the rail tank car – just compressed air/gas bubbles
  • Eliminate overheating or scalding of liquid products
  • Adjustable speed and power controller for maximum efficiency
  • 30+ years of proven mixing technology for liquids with high viscosities

Contact Pulsair Today