AMETEK Land, a combustion efficiency and environmental pollutant emissions monitoring expert, has supplied its Near Infrared Borescope (NIR-B) 3XR to Air Liquide, which is now gaining know-how by continuously measuring temperature of tube walls within its steam methane reformers.

Air Liquide’s steam methane reformers, which produce industrial hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) gases, are critical assets and their safe and reliable operation is of paramount importance.

However, the company explains they are very challenging assets to maintain and operate, “Some of the most-common problems in reformer operation are burner, flue gas distribution and catalyst issues. All of those problems can directly affect tube wall temperatures (TWT) and tube life and can lead to premature tube failure. Those issues also can lead a producer to be overly cautious on TWT and lose valuable production every year.”

Developed specifically to operate in the hazardous areas of a steam methane reformer, the NIR-B 3XR is ATEX and IECEx approved and CSA certified. It is a short-wavelength radiometric, infrared borescope imaging camera, which measures temperatures in the single range of 600 to 1800 °C (1112 to 3272 °F) and utilises the latest wide dynamic range imaging technology.

Air Liquide said this solution was ideal for its industrial gas application in which there were high differential temperatures in the field of view, such as the tube and furnace walls.

Gonzalo Navarro, Production Manager at Air Liquide Ibérica de Gases, comments, “Our main drivers for investing in AMETEK Land’s NIR-B 3XR were to extend tube and catalyst life, which we are achieving as a result. We continuously are learning about our reformer, which enables us to balance it correctly and to follow our main and most-critical asset online.”

Air Liquide uses the extensive functions available within the LIPS NIR-B thermal imaging software to monitor TWT 24/7 and to receive early warning of increasing temperatures.

“The software allows us to spot and respond immediately to problems such as hot spots and bands on the tubes, refractory damage and any flame impingement,” comments Navarro, “We extensively use the Isotherm temperature measurement mode within the software to highlight areas of a thermal image that are within a selected temperature range. Areas within the isotherm’s range are displayed in our chosen colour for clear visibility and are key to our comprehensive understanding of tube performance.”

He continued, “The implementation of the thermal imagers has allowed us to gain furnace know-how. Now, our teams are able to monitor the temperature of the tubes continuously, they are able to make more informed and confident decisions implying greater plant reliability.”