Through-Flame Thermal Cameras Can Take the Heat

Does your process heating operation need a fast, noncontact, nondestructive way to gather both qualitative and quantitative information to prevent or minimize downtime? Of course it does, and that is why you should consider a through-flame thermal camera.

As Seen in Process Heating Magazine

When it comes to the industrial furnaces, heaters and boilers used in the chemical, petrochemical and utility industries, the actual operational designs are as varied as the many applications. Some plants have only two or three heaters while larger plants may have more than 50. Some heaters simply deliver the feed at a predetermined temperature to the next stage of the reaction process while others perform reactions on the feed while it travels through the tubes.

Whatever the application, accurate, cost-effective inspection of these process heaters, furnaces or fired heaters in action presents unique challenges. Ever more, industrial predictive maintenance (PdM) programs and external inspection companies turn to thermal cameras fitted with a spectral waveband filter designed specifically to see through flame, at temperatures from -40 to 1500°F (-40 to 816°C) and more.

Infrared Locates Coking, Provides Temperature Validation

Tube metal temperatures are particularly critical to distillation furnace operations. When operating a furnace close to the maximum allowable tube metal temperature, changes of less than 200°F (111°C) can dramatically reduce tube life on tubes rated for 100,000 hours to only a few hundred hours.

Thermal imaging combined with visual images allows you to see conditions invisible to the naked eye yet place them in context in a visible world. A visual image of a ruptured tube (left); a visual image of tube through a viewing port (middle); and a hydrogen fire from a leaking tube that cannot be seen visually, causing impingement overheating on adjacent tubes (right) provides insights into the process equipment. The thermal image was taken with a long-wave thermal camera so the flame would be obvious.

In distillation furnaces, a primary service consideration is the determination of carbon scale buildup, or coke formation. Areas with coke buildup preclude the product from uniformly absorbing the tube’s heat and can result in higher furnace firing rates. In some cases, overfiring can cause temperatures that exceed the tube metal design criteria, and this, coupled with pressure inside a plugged tube, may cause a rupture and leak.

Related Articles