The reliable operation of cracking furnaces has a direct and critical impact on the profitability of ethylene plants. While it can be shown that no refractory lining system can be expected to be maintenance free, decisions made during the initial design of the furnace, the selection of the material, and the selection of the installer are critical. Often the goals of the initial furnace OEM or technology supplier are not in alignment with the operating owner, with the former most concerned with short term price and suitability for specifications and the latter focusing on long term reliability and value. We will discuss specific areas within the refractory lining system that stand as examples of the results of this disconnect, and steps that can be taken to mitigate the problem. We will present the straightforward principles of The Three Keys to Reliability that can be used to focus attention on achieving an optimum long-term refractory strategy.
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