Understand common failure mechanisms of fired heaters to prevent disruptions and ensure safe operation.
Fired heaters use controlled combustion of fuel to heat a process fluid. The heat of combustion is transferred to the process fluid in the radiant section (or firebox) and the convection section (Figure 1).
While any type of process involving combustion carries hazards and safety concerns, the hazards are even greater when a combustible process fluid is heated inside tubes. Hence, fires and explosions are significant risks of fired heater operation. As the size and complexity of fired heaters increase, so do the safety concerns. This article briefly reviews the basics of combustion, fire, explosions, and flammability limits and further discusses the main factors that cause failures in fired heaters and impact safe operation.
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