About Us

Our history


In 1938, Roy E. Mcllrath was in charge of soda fountain operations at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. He was constantly having problems with carbon dioxide freeze-ups when gas flows increased. Traditionally, these freeze-ups were minimized by using a coil of tubes immersed in a can of hot water with the source of the hot water being up to the user. Some ran a hose; others poured in new hot water whenever the old water cooled off. A few actually immersed an electric calrod into the water, but all ideas were makeshift, messy and marginally effective.


Roy invented and patented the “automatic electric carbon dioxide heater” in 1938, which is the forerunner of today’s model. He sold 3 units in 1939 and sales continued to increase. In 1966, a total of 558 were shipped.


In 1980, Modern Engineering, a manufacturer of welding equipment, entered into a contract with CalCo to produce this heater under their private label (“MECO”).


In 1993, Charles Choat of IBM called to explore ways to heat nitrogen up to 400°F. IBM used vacuum pumps in the manufacturing of microchips. They had found that if the nitrogen used in the seals of their vacuum pumps was heated, the seal materials would last much longer. After a fair amount of development to produce a dependable heater at these temperatures, we ended up producing a special 300-watt, 220-volt, adjustable temperature control model with stainless steel tubes.


Today, CalCo is recognized as a world leader in the manufacturing of gas line heaters to prevent freeze-ups and increase the flow of gas lines. We are located in Crystal Lake, IL about 40 miles outside of downtown Chicago. We have thousands of satisfied customers and look forward to adding more each and every year.

Click here to contact us or call 847-639-3858 (M-F 8:30am to 4:00pm)
or e-mail order@calcocontrols.com.

  • Anesthesiology
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  • Hospitals
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The technology behind our heaters

As any gas goes from high pressure to lower pressure, temperature decreases. The greater the pressure differential, the greater the temperature drop. Many gases just get “cold,” but a few, because of their relatively high freezing temperature, will turn into liquid or solid upon decompression. This is especially true for carbon dioxide (CO2), which turns directly into a solid (dry ice) that stops the flow of gas. Other gases that are “notorious freezers” include nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3). These three rarely go to solid, but if there is any water vapor in the line (and in the real world, there almost always is), it turns to ice and stops the flow.

Although a drop in pressure causes cooling, the real predictor of freezing turns out to be in the flow of gas in cubic feet per hour (c.f.h.) or liters per hour (l.p.h.). At low flow rates, there is sufficient heat available in the equipment and surrounding air to prevent freezing. As flow rates increase however, there isn’t enough “latent” heat to keep up, and freezing occurs. As a rule of thumb, this generally occurs at flows of 35 c.f.h. or greater.

A standard Series 200 CO2 Cylinder stands about 4½ feet high and contains 50 pounds of CO2, mostly in liquid form. Pressure varies according to ambient temperature from 700 p.s.i. to 900 p.s.i. To draw CO2 vapor from these cylinders, the liquid CO2 has to “boil” by having obtained the heat to support this from the cylinder and ambient air outside the cylinder. This process limits the maximum flow rate from a single tank to between 30 c.f.h. and 50 c.f.h. Higher flow rates can be achieved by manifolding two or more cylinders together.

Some larger cylinders provide the option of drawing vapor off the top or drawing liquid through a siphon tube. Drawing liquid allows for higher flows, but the liquid needs to be vaporized using a series of tubes on the outside of the tank and/or an external vaporizer like our heater. In any event, you want to have all the CO2 turned to gas before it gets to the regulator.

CO2 can also come in bulk (zero) storage tanks that keep the liquid refrigerated at about 0°F. This drops pressure to about 300 p.s.i. These systems also usually include steam or electrical vaporizers to provide the required vapor flow. Because of all these factors, plus the large flows associated with these systems, our heaters are usually not appropriate or required for these bulk storage systems.


There are many things that will adjust the maximum capacity of our heaters. Here are the major ones:

Ambient Temperature: The higher the outside temperature, the more preheat it provides.

Insulation: The heated gas will lose heat rapidly as it moves through the plumbing, especially on the downstream side of the heater. Insulation helps considerably to retain this heat.

Mass of Piping: The total size and length of the plumbing become factors on both sides of the heater. The heavier and longer the piping before the heater, the better, as it will help preheat the high-pressure gas. The mass of after-heater plumbing can be a mixed blessing. With an intermittent high flow/low flow scenario, on the early part the high flow cycle, the gas gives up some of its heat to warm up the plumbing.

Proximity of Regulator: Since nearly all freezing occurs at the regulator, you want to position the heater as close to the regulator as you can on the high pressure side.

Type of Gas: The amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of different gases (specific heat) varies. Please make sure you have the correct valves for the type of gas you are using. Other specific heats are as follows and gives you an idea whether a gas will need more or less heat than CO2. The higher the specific heat, the more heat required to raise a gas’s temperature.













Type of Flow: The above capacities are based upon continuous, steady flow. As discussed before, momentary surges beyond the recommended maximum can be handled. The CC-1000 heater, because of the mass of the aluminum heat exchanger, is much better equipped to handle surges than the inline heater.


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