The petrochemical refining process is extremely energy intensive and requires careful thermal monitoring to ascertain the safety and thermal efficiencies of each process. Examining such thermal processes with infrared equipment capable of doing high temperature measurement can provide a quick and accurate diagnosis of problems and save refineries high damage-related costs. Refineries can attain a higher level of productivity and increase profitability by using infrared cameras to carry out tank level verification, condenser fin diagnosis, furnace maintenance, refractory loss management and electrical and mechanical maintenance.
• Furnace Inspection – Infrared cameras facilitate the inspection of heater tubes in furnaces for carbon scale buildup. This phenomenon also known as ¡°coking¡± can easily be detected with suitable high-temperature infrared equipment because areas with coke buildup show up as warmer than other areas of the tube surface.
This shows that the coke is precluding the product from uniformly absorbing the tube¡¯s heat. Additional disadvantages of coking include higher furnace firing rates and decreased tube life. This provides more incentive to maintenance personnel to perform regular infrared scans to protect against coking.
¢² Condenser Tube Inspection - Occasionally the condenser tubes in a refinery can get plugged which can significantly deteriorate output and have an adverse effect on the efficient operation of the refinery. Infrared images of such tubes can reveal sections of the tube that are plugged, thereby, alerting maintenance personnel to the problem before it can result in more severe consequences.
• High Temperature Pressure Pipelines – High temperature pressure pipelines are used extensively in petrochemical plants. Leakage and accidents due to it can occasionally take place after a certain period of time due to media corrosion, cracking due to welding defects or stress, and material deterioration. In order to ensure the safe operation of the pipes it is necessary to get an idea of the integrity of the pipe-walls and then replace only the critically damaged pipes. Since infrared thermography is non-contact, fast, harmless and easily deployable, it is a great tool for observing discontinuities in the heat-flow patterns resulting from wall defects for high temperature pressure pipes.
• Thermocouple Validation – Infrared equipment can also provide a great non-contact mechanism for validating thermocouple temperature measurement. Thermocouples are installed at several points in a furnace in order to provide very accurate tube temperatures, but when coking occurs around the thermocouple, it is liable to either detach or provide inaccurate data. An infrared scan can prevent this by quickly validating the accuracy of a furnace tube temperature reading provided by a thermocouple. This assures a good product yield.