Boilers & Burners


FULTON. Carl Knight. Bristol. 04 February 2015.

In this article, Fulton managing director Carl Knight delves into the importance of BG13 and the insights it provides into how to ensure the safe operation of electric powered steam boilers.

Guidance for the Safe Operation of Electrically Powered Steam Boilers (Ref: BG13) is a guidance document intended to assist the managers, designers, operators, maintenance personnel and Competent Persons (CP) of new and existing steam boiler systems. Developed and written by the Combustion Engineering Association (CEA) and in consultation with other stakeholders – like Fulton – within the steam boiler industry. It serves as a vital resource to those named and addresses key issues including design, installation, safe operation, maintenance requirements, and compliance with legal standards.

The document covers various dangers and challenges including loss of feed water, over-pressure, overheating, electrical safety, and water treatment. Electric boilers – classified as small, medium, or large – encompass two main types: electric boilers and electrode boilers. Electric boilers utilise fully immersed heating elements, while electrode boilers employ conducting probes or electrodes to directly heat the water.

BG13 applies to industrial and commercial electrically powered steam boiler plants with a working pressure up to 32 bar gauge. It excludes steam boilers exceeding 37 MW nett rated thermal input or above 32 bar gauge working pressure, as well as coffee boilers, jet type electrode boilers, and hot water boilers. Nevertheless, the principles outlined in BG13 can still be applied where suitable and applicable, even to excluded boiler types.


Proper design and installation are fundamental to the safe operation of electric steam boilers. BG13 outlines design considerations such as sizing the boiler to meet the specific requirements of the application, ensuring adequate ventilation, and implementing appropriate safety features such as pressure relief valves and automatic shutdown systems.

To guarantee compliance with BG13 standards, installation should be undertaken by qualified professionals and follow manufacturer guidelines and relevant regulations.


This section outlines operational requirements and routine checks for electric boiler systems. Employers must conduct site-specific risk assessments to determine appropriate controls, supervision levels, and maintenance. Before use, boilers must be examined by a competent person and subsequently tested according to a Written Scheme of Examination (WSE).

Boiler instructions should cover safe operation, daily checks, start-up procedures, safe work practices, and notification of significant operational changes. System re-starts following lock-out require a suitably experienced operator to avoid potential risks.

Routine testing of controls, limiters, and water quality is crucial for safe and efficient operation. Testing frequency should be based on risk assessment, manufacturer's instructions, and operational requirements. Records of tests and maintenance activities must be maintained for audit purposes.

Water level controls need specific testing, with results logged and corrective actions taken as necessary. Feed water and boiler water checks, including chemical dosing and quality assessments, should be conducted regularly.

Special consideration must be given to water treatment for standby and unused boilers to prevent scale build-up and ensure system integrity.


The user/owner must appoint competent individuals responsible for daily boiler operation, with competence entailing relevant education, training, and experience.

Operators must be capable of recognising the limits of their expertise and seeking assistance when necessary and their duties are determined by site-specific risk assessments. Employers have general duties to provide safe workplaces and adequate staff training under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, MHSWR, and PUWER. These responsibilities cannot be delegated to employees or third parties.

Qualified electricians or electrical engineers must manage electrical issues associated with boilers, ensuring electrical safety, compliance with regulations, and implementing safety measures. Individuals monitoring boiler alarms must be adequately trained to respond appropriately to alarm conditions, ensuring safety before seeking assistance. Access during emergencies should be restricted to trained personnel.

Maintenance personnel require sufficient knowledge and training to carry out their duties safely, performing tasks only for which they are trained and competent. User/owners hiring subcontractors for specialised tasks must ensure their competency, oversee their work, and ensure compliance with legal requirements and safety standards.

Manning and supervision levels are determined by detailed risk assessments, considering factors like automation, location, water quality, and operational scenarios. Electric boilers require a competent operator present during start-up and lockout. Advanced automation may still necessitate full-time supervision for steam security or other reasons.


Boiler systems must be properly maintained to prevent danger, adhering to PSSR Regulation 12 and PUWER Regulation 5. Responsibility for maintenance should be clearly defined, with the user/owner ensuring all personnel are competent, boiler operators handing over safely, and maintenance checked before the boiler is back in operation.

Steam leaks should be promptly repaired, and maintenance activities should be documented, including maintenance frequency, and logs kept up to date.

Before any modifications or repairs, a risk assessment must be conducted and the CP should assess the effects on pressure equipment, reviewing the WSE as required.

Significant repairs must address causal factors and comply with PSSR Regulation 13, documenting alterations and ensuring equivalent standards.


Employers must ensure all personnel possess adequate knowledge of boiler systems and receive training under PUWER Reg 9. Training should be ongoing, structured, and updated to reflect technological advancements and legislative changes, and should cover boiler operation, controls, emergency procedures, legal aspects, and site-specific elements.

Competence levels and training requirements must be reviewed, especially with system modifications, and employers must maintain training and assessment records securely for audit purposes.

Personnel, including managers and operators, must undergo regular work audits and periodic reassessment of training. Training validation must include written and/or oral assessments with recorded results.

Essential elements of boiler house training should include understanding Steam Boiler Water Treatment (SBWT) principles to maintain water quality. Recommended courses include CertIBO for operators, DipBOM for managers, and SBWT training as part of the CEA suite.


A boiler must be examined according to a WSE that details parts, examination types, and intervals, and may be written and certified by an independent or in-house CP.

The examination includes two phases: "out of service" and "in service.", with the latter involving verifying protective devices such as pressure gauge, controller, safety relief valve, and water level controls.

Post-examination, the CP should issue a report with recommendations, while other devices such as control system power failure and critical alarms should also be checked and tested.


Efficient boiler energy management is crucial for cost reduction, safety, and plant longevity, so seeking expert advice before altering operating parameters ensures safety, environmental compliance, and efficiency.

Options such as metering for efficiency monitoring, water treatment, energy improvement devices (e.g., variable speed drives), and plant scheduling for optimisation should all be considered. It is worth noting that simply reducing steam pressure may not always enhance efficiency, so measurement is therefore recommended to demonstrate efficiency.

Electric boilers are not subject to emissions regulations, but environmental considerations such as noise and waste streams require attention. Water discharged must meet utility restrictions, and resources on legislation and guidance are available from government and industry websites.

Large organisations may need to comply with the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS).



The CEA’s BG13 stands as a comprehensive guide for the management of electric steam boilers, addressing design, installation, operation, and maintenance best practices. It serves as a vital resource for professionals involved in boiler systems, covering essential aspects such as safety and compliance with legal standards.

By adhering to BG13 guidelines, organisations can ensure the safe and efficient operation of boiler systems, mitigating risks and maximising longevity. Furthermore, considerations for energy management and environmental impact underscore the document's relevance in promoting sustainable practices within industrial settings.

Overall, BG13 provides a comprehensive framework for ensuring the optimal performance and safety of electric steam boilers, contributing to the overall efficiency and sustainability of industrial operations.


Leading the Fight Against Pipeline Corrosion: IGS Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover


Within the oil and gas industry, pipeline integrity and corrosion control are top concerns. Transporting untreated wet gas poses significant risks, as the presence of corrosive contaminants like hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) can severely damage critical pipeline assets. This damage results in leaks, loss of containment, and costly unplanned shutdowns.

Integrated Global Services (IGS) understands the urgency of effective corrosion control to maintain pipeline integrity and operational efficiency. As a result, IGS has developed a cutting-edge Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover system, representing a major leap forward in internal corrosion protection strategies for oil and gas pipelines.

The Challenges of Internal Corrosion

Corrosion in wet gas pipelines develops from various mechanisms, including CO2 corrosion (sweet corrosion) and H2S corrosion. CO2 dissolves in water, forming carbonic acid that attacks the pipe wall, while H2S dissociates to form sulfuric acid, leading to pitting. Additionally, the oxygen content, corrosive by-products, and contaminants introduced during production operations further contribute to internal corrosion.

Existing prevention methods, such as chemical inhibitors and coatings, have limitations in addressing the complexities of internal corrosion in hazardous environments like wet gas pipelines.

The Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover: A Breakthrough Solution

IGS's Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover system represents a breakthrough solution for pipeline corrosion protection. By offering a field-applied alloy upgrade for pipelines, slug catchers, and flare lines, this cutting-edge technology addresses the challenges of wet CO2 corrosion and internal corrosion with unparalleled precision.

The self-propelled rover navigates through pipelines, applying a durable alloy coating to interior surfaces without the need for direct human intervention. This approach ensures comprehensive surface preparation, alloy application, and quality control in environments previously considered challenging or impossible to treat effectively.

Key Benefits of the Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover

  • Targeted Protection: 360-degree access to critical areas ensures comprehensive coverage, protecting bottom sections, low spots, and weld seams.
  • Pipe ID Corrosion Mitigation: Alloy upgrades restore and reinforce affected areas, significantly extending the asset's life.
  • Laser Integrity Scans and Visual Documentation: Real-time scans provide essential documentation, ensuring quality and accountability.
  • Safe Operation in Hazardous Environments: Designed for operation in hazardous wet gas environments, eliminating the need for confined space entry.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Maximizes capital efficiency, avoiding expensive replacements and providing a financially viable corrosion prevention solution.

A Comprehensive Corrosion Control Strategy

By stopping further damage and mitigating pipeline corrosion, the Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover becomes more than a technology; it becomes a comprehensive strategy to tackle CO2 and H2S corrosion. The solution supports operators in strengthening offshore infrastructure, ensuring uninterrupted production, and protecting their investment in pipeline systems.

Whether addressing finger slug catcher corrosion, enhancing flare line durability, or controlling corrosion in wet gas systems, IGS's Metalspray® Pipe ID Rover system is at the forefront of internal corrosion control technology.

With a track record of success and a team of experts dedicated to excellence, IGS is pushing the boundaries of innovation to safeguard operations against the threats of corrosion.



VKK Group joins Babcock Wanson Group


Getec and Babcock Wanson Group are pleased to announce that they have agreed to the sale of the VKK Group, a prominent German company renowned for its expertise in industrial boiler technology.

 VKK Group, comprising VKK Standardkessel Köthen GmbH, VKK Standardkessel Service Köthen GmbH, VKK Standardkessel Verwaltung Köthen GmbH, Dampferzeuger-Rohrleitungsbau GmbH and PCE GmbH was originally acquired by Getec Group in 2018. Under Getec’s ownership, the boiler manufacturer, with physical presence in Kothen, Duisbourg and Lichtentanne, has undergone significant reorganisation, restructuring, and strategic positioning over the past five years, positioning VKK Group as a leading and innovative player in the German industrial boiler market.


Coming from the still famous story of Standardkessel boilers, the group of companies nowadays known as VKK Group, is a specialist in the design and manufacture of industrial boilers for the energy, food, chemical and other diverse industries. VKK Group also offers a wide range of services including engineering, installation of turnkey projects, monitoring and maintenance of equipment. The company has developed an expertise in high power boilers that gives it a strong competitive advantage in the industrial boiler market in Germany.


“With the takeover by Babcock Wanson Group, VKK Group will benefit from a strong and highly respected European specialist to pursue its growth trajectory” states Volker Schulz, chairman of the advisory board. “VKK Group can look ahead with optimism and confidence to its next step of development.”

 Babcock Wanson Group is pleased to make this strategic move and lay the foundation for its expansion into Germany, being one of the largest markets for industrial boilers, leveraging the production site in Kothen and the service site in Duisbourg.


“We are thrilled to welcome VKK Group to our journey of growth,” remarks Cyril Fournier-Montgieux, Chairman of Babcock Wanson Group. “VKK’s stellar reputation and expertise in industrial boilers make it the perfect gateway for our entry into Germany, enabling us to continue supporting our industrial clients in their energy transition and decarbonisation efforts.”


The Babcock Wanson Group intends to leverage the expertise of the VKK Group’s management and existing teams to bring to local customers the most energy and cost efficient solutions for their boiler room needs. This acquisition thereof represents a mutually beneficial arrangement, facilitating the integration of VKK’s expertise in high power boilers across all of Babcock Wanson’s European subsidiaries while harnessing its production capabilities. In parallel, VKK will benefit from Babcock Wanson Group’s advanced portfolio of technologies, including Parat’s high-voltage electric boilers, thereby contributing to the decarbonisation efforts within the industrial sector.


Supported by its main shareholder, Kartesia, Babcock Wanson Group remains committed to expansion and aims to cement its position as the European leader in decarbonisation solutions for industrial processes.


For information on Babcock Wanson, go to

Case Study: Solving Waste Heat Boiler Corrosion in the Copper Smelting Industry


In a collaborative effort with a prominent global copper smelting operation, IGS (Integrated Global Services) successfully executed a groundbreaking project aimed at enhancing the reliability and longevity of a waste heat boiler.

The project not only showcased the technical capabilities of IGS but also delivered substantial commercial benefits to the plant.

Commercial Benefit Analysis

Avoided Downtime and Replacement Costs

Traditionally, the copper smelter plant faced significant challenges with the waste heat boiler, experiencing only 11 to 13 months of service life for critical panels. This led to extensive downtime, high replacement costs, and logistical challenges, particularly exacerbated by supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 situation.

IGS intervened with a high velocity thermal spray (HVTS) cladding solution, aiming to extend the intervals between turnarounds. The successful application resulted in a remarkable avoidance of downtime and replacement costs, contributing significantly to the project’s return on investment.

Identification of Issues and Initial Contact

The copper smelter plant in Chile, facing corrosion and erosion issues in their waste heat boiler, had historically resorted to panel replacements, single tube replacement and weld build-up strategies.

The turning point occurred when a representative came across another waste heat boiler reliability project delivered by IGS and approached the company seeking alternative solutions. This led to a comprehensive technical presentation to the plant’s maintenance and commercial teams.

Contract Award and Application

Following successful presentations and discussions, IGS secured a contract for a 70-square-meter application of their proprietary HVTS high-nobility alloy. The application took place in a laydown yard in October 2022, targeting critical areas of the waste heat boiler was applied.



Post-Application Inspection



The waste heat boiler ran continuously until the end of September 2023. In August, anticipating an outage, IGS mobilized an inspection crew, including local representatives from Chile. Despite a tight five-hour window, the team conducted a thorough inspection using magnetic lift-off (MLO) gauge testing. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with the cladding exhibiting no degradation after 11.5 months of service. Kevin Phillips, who has overseen both the project and inspection, described the cladding as in-applied condition.

“In all my years as a technical solutions partner, I have never had a client hug me. They were so pleased with the outcome!”, said Kevin.

Future Collaborations and Market Expansion

The success of the waste heat boiler project paved the way for potential collaborations on other critical components within the copper smelter. Converter hoods, copper cooling plates, and other identified assets are now under consideration for IGS solutions. The client’s satisfaction has positioned IGS as a trusted partner.


The IGS project on the waste heat boiler at the copper smelter stands as a testament to the company’s innovative solutions, delivering both commercial benefits and engineering excellence. This case study exemplifies how IGS’s proactive approach and proven solutions can transform operational challenges into opportunities for extended asset life and enhanced productivity.

Integrated Global Services, IGS - Your Efficiency & Reliability Partner



Established in 1974, Truck Trye Specialists has a reputation for providing premium bead-to-bead (hot cure) and procure (cold cure) remould tyres with over 100 tread patterns to suit all relevant commercial vehicle operations. Its products are manufactured using the highest-grade rubber compounds available and have a proven track record of improving mileage, traction and fuel efficiency, equalling and even outperforming tyres from established brands.

With a five-yearly NDT inspection due on its ageing horizontal steam boiler within 18 months, and given past experiences, there was a very real prospect of it requiring major coded pressure vessel repairs again. Truck Tyre therefore needed to find a replacement solution that could cope with current and future demands, while ensuring its Net Zero commitments – already established thanks to existing recycling procedures, upgrades to facility insulation and the installation of roof-mounted PV panels – weren’t compromised.

So having discussed the requirements and researched the options with its existing steam solutions specialist, the tyre manufacturer was presented with just one realistic option, VSRT vertical steam boilers from Fulton!


Steam is used throughout Truck Tyre’s facility – including steam and waste steam via heat exchangers for domestic hot water and space heating for the facility’s offices and factory – but plays a crucial role in the vulcanisation process when moulded rubber that is extruded onto the tyre structure is placed in high-pressure curing presses or autoclaves, with steam introduced at a controlled temperature and pressure, and serving several critical functions during the process.

Firstly, steam is an excellent heat transfer medium. It transfers heat efficiently to the rubber components, causing the necessary chemical reactions for vulcanisation to occur. The heat and pressure help the sulphur atoms in the rubber chains form crosslinks, which strengthen the material. Secondly, many vulcanisation accelerators work more effectively at elevated temperatures, with heat from the steam therefore accelerating the chemical reactions between the rubber and curing agents, reducing the curing time and improving the overall process efficiency. Finally, steam ensures uniform heating throughout the company’s curing chambers and autoclaves, preventing hotspots or temperature variations that could lead to uneven vulcanisation.

In a typical five-day work week, the boiler is operational for 12 hours per day, giving Truck Tyre the ability to produce over 30,000 tyres annually using its 28 commercial presses and autoclaves. Its maximum requirement for steam peaks at approximately 1,800kg/h and the original horizontal boiler would achieve this. However, during breakdowns, regular servicing, five-yearly NDT inspections and maintenance periods, the boiler and processes using steam were all shut down. It was therefore recommended that the new system should allow for duty assist within the specification.

Two VSRT-60 steam boilers were subsequently specified, each with a rated output of 960kg/h, easily coping with demand and affording the company the ability to reduce, not completely stop, throughput during planned shutdowns.

Commenting for Truck Tyre Specialists, director Daniel Collins says: “In the 12 months prior to the installation of the two VSRT steam boilers, we were using up to 213,000kWh of gas per month during high throughput periods. However, in the six months since Fulton’s VSRTs were commissioned, we’re now using around 155,000kWh.”.

As Carl Knight, Fulton’s managing director explains, a VSRT installation has once again resulted in significant savings for the end user. “With turndown increasing from 2.5:1 to 20:1 for the installation, Truck Tyre has reported a reduction in gas consumption of nearly 30% and over 140 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions reduced, savings that can be credited towards its Net Zero goals. Additionally, based on historical data, there has been a reduction in NOx emissions in excess of 75%.

“These alone are truly impressive, but let’s not forget savings achieved from the reduction in water usage, chemical dosing, annual inspection, five-yearly NDTs and of course process downtime haven’t been factored in, making overall financial savings compared to the original horizontal boiler installation even more impressive!”.

Applications using steam, like those at Truck Tyre, have revolutionised over the years, yet the same cannot be said for steam boilers themselves. That was until, in 2018, Fulton launched the VSRT vertical steam boiler.

Claimed to be the most radical change to vertical steam boiler design since it first pioneered the vertical tubeless boiler in 1949, Fulton’s VSRT has rocked the steam boiler market since its launch to become class-leading and a symbol of efficiency, with many users benefitting from excellent savings in gas and water consumption and reductions in CO2 and NOX emissions.

At launch, the seven-model VSRT range was available with outputs from 160 to 960 kg/h, but with demand increasing for an energy efficient boiler with larger outputs, Fulton has now expanded the range and introduced two new, re-designed VSRTs with outputs of 1,565 and 1,956 kg/h.

Thanks to its unique design, the VSRT’s patented spiral-rib heat exchanger virtually eliminates thermal stress, so Fulton has therefore created a longer-lasting boiler that not only improves boiler efficiency but one that the company believes will beat the competition in every category of durability. This is why all VSRTs come with the assurance of a 10-year ‘unparalleled’ warranty on the pressure vessel, double that of the industry standard.

Additionally, with features including a vertical tubeless design with no refractory whatsoever, and thanks to its industrial control platform and easy access to the pressure vessel, the VSRT is also extremely easy to maintain. As the design is tubeless, there is no requirement for five-yearly, NDTs, which contributes to reduced lifecycle costs when compared to standard horizontal boilers.

In summary, as Carl Knight explains, Fulton’s VSRT can deliver steam (at up to two tonnes per hour from single boiler) while helping with both the financial and environmental challenges that are at the forefront of mind for many decision makers.


Advancing Waste Heat Boiler Performance and Reliability


Non-Ferrous pyrometallurgical plants across the globe rely on smelting furnaces to extract copper, nickel, lead, and zinc which are subsequently used in a wide variety of manufacturing processes. Renowned for their efficiency and speed, these assets need to be carefully maintained to operate at maximum capacity. Waste Heat Boilers (WHB) play a crucial role in recovering and utilizing heat generated as a byproduct of these processes. However, these boilers are susceptible to high temperature sulfidation leading to waterwall degradation. This corrosive process has a detrimental impact on asset life and overall performance. This article will explore the causes of this type of corrosion and how it can be prevented.

What Causes Corrosion and Erosion?


The flue gas stream within a smelting furnace WHB has huge dust content, that may either slag on the surface depending on its melting point temperature or erode waterwalls. In general, metal oxides are present in the dust and are characterized as very erosive media.

Flue gas originating from sulphur containing fuel becomes corrosive below a temperature of approximately 150°C (acid dew point corrosion). Local cold spots in metal air preheaters lead to rapid breakdown and corrosion of tubes and plates. This type of corrosion is one of the key factors negatively affecting the energy efficiency of waste heat boilers.

Corrosion Often Leads to Depletion

The incredibly high temperatures (which may reach around 1,350 degrees Celsius) circulating within the waste heat boiler start to affect the waterwalls. If this process is allowed to continue, areas of the boiler wall can become completely depleted and require costly shutdowns and urgent repair to operate efficiently.

Prevention Methods: High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS)


High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS) by Integrated Global Services (IGS) offers a potential solution for extending the lifespan of existing smelting equipment by acting as an erosion barrier in critical apparatus.

Developed for safe on-site application, HVTS is a non-permeable thermal spray applied alloy cladding material specifically designed for corrosion and erosion resistance in high-temperature smelting and mineral refining environments.

Engineered for the mining and mineral processing industry, HVTS ensures better bond strength and excellent corrosion and wear resistance. The solution is designed for fast on-site application, facilitating a prompt return to service. Its capability to withstand challenging environments makes it a suitable choice where other coatings may not provide lasting performance.

HVTS Case Study: Waste Heat Boiler Corrosion no Longer a Problem at Copper Smelter


In a collaborative initiative with a leading global copper smelting operation, IGS recently completed a project focused on improving the reliability and lifespan of a waste heat boiler. This case study highlights the technical implementation and explores the substantial commercial advantages realized by the copper smelter.

Commercial Benefit Analysis

Avoided Downtime and Replacement Costs

Traditionally, the copper smelter plant encountered significant challenges related to the waste heat boiler, with a service life of critical panels limited to only 11 to 18 months. This recurrent issue resulted in prolonged downtime, elevated replacement expenses, and logistical complications, further exacerbated by disruptions in the supply chain owing to the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

IGS addressed these challenges by introducing a high velocity thermal spray (HVTS) alloy cladding solution, aimed at extending the intervals between turnarounds. The successful implementation of this solution remarkably mitigated downtime and replacement costs.

Identification of Issues and Initial Contact

The copper smelter plant in Chile, grappling with corrosion and erosion problems in their waste heat boiler, traditionally relied on panel replacements, single tube replacements, and weld build-up strategies. A pivotal moment arose when a representative of the plant discovered a waste heat boiler reliability project executed by IGS and approached the company in search of alternative solutions. Subsequently, a comprehensive technical presentation was made to the plant's maintenance and commercial teams.

Contract Award and Application

Following successful presentations and in-depth discussions, IGS secured a contract for the application of its proprietary HVTS high-nobility alloy cladding over a 70-square-meter area. The application took place in a laydown yard in October 2022, strategically targeting critical areas of the waste heat boiler.

Post-Application Inspection

The waste heat boiler operated continuously until the end of September 2023. In August, anticipating an outage, IGS mobilized an inspection crew, including local representatives from Chile. Despite a tight five-hour window, the team conducted a thorough inspection using magnetic lift-off (MLO) gauge testing. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with the cladding exhibiting no degradation after 11.5 months of service.

Kevin Phillips, overseeing both the project and inspection, described the cladding as being in an applied condition. "In all my years as a technical solutions partner, I have never had a client hug me. They were so pleased with the outcome!" remarked Kevin.

Future Collaborations and Market Expansion

The success of the waste heat boiler project has opened avenues for potential collaborations on other critical components within the copper smelter. Converter hoods, copper cooling plates, and other identified assets are currently under consideration for IGS solutions. The client's satisfaction has solidified IGS as a trusted partner.


The project addressing the waste heat boiler challenges demonstrates the company's commitment to finding effective solutions. It has shown that a proactive approach and proven methods can contribute to overcoming operational challenges, potentially extending asset life and enhancing productivity. As the collaboration advances, the lessons learned from this project may inform future ventures, highlighting the potential for industry-wide advancements through strategic partnerships and innovative engineering approaches.

The examination of waste heat boiler challenges in copper smelters underscores the critical role these boilers play in the efficient extraction of metals. The corrosive effects of high temperature sulfidation pose significant threats to the operational longevity and overall performance of these crucial assets.

The collaborative efforts and successful outcomes detailed in the case study serve as a valuable reference for industries seeking reliable solutions to enhance the performance and reliability of waste heat boilers and other critical components in similar environments.


Lessons Learned: A Deep Dive into the Use Cases of Thermal Spray Applications in Process Vessels and Columns


When faced with metal wastage, asset owners and operators can address the corrosion mechanisms with a corrosion-resistant alloy (CRA) barrier. The technique used to apply this CRA will mainly be determined by the shutdown time available to carry out the application.

While weld metal overlay remains a reliable option, laboratory testing and performance validation, field application, and subsequent site inspections of High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS) alloy cladding projects have confirmed this solution to perform “in the same league” with several added benefits.

The Evolution of High Velocity Thermal Spray

Thermal spray technology has been utilized for the application of CRA since the 1980s, spraying metals widely used for corrosion protection. However, it was quickly noted that the thermal spray process itself can negatively affect the condition of the material being sprayed. The resulting cladding, when using traditional metal alloys and commercially available thermal spray equipment has not been able to create a sufficient barrier to corrosive media.

Permeability coupled with internal stress and lower bond strength with the base metal creates a path for corrosion and premature failure. These early failures resulted in an understandable and rather universal distrust of early iterations of commercially available thermal spray technology.


Engineering a Solution

Engineers and material scientists have successfully developed a solution to this problem by redesigning both the equipment used to apply the metal cladding, the process technology, and the alloy of the feedstock material.

True High Velocity

The atomization velocity is a critical success factor in thermal spray cladding for critical equipment liquid and gas corrosion environments. For thermal spray cladding applied with a wire feed stock, a high velocity process is defined where the material atomization occurs in a super-sonic gas stream (gas stream velocity equal to or greater than Mach 1) which results in specific particle characteristics critical to achieving an impermeable barrier.

Creating an Impermeable Barrier

As particles are ejected from the thermal spray torch at high temperature and velocity, they are exposed to air with a high nitrogen and oxygen content. The molten particles are inclined to rapidly oxidize in flight. On deposition, oxide bands are formed in layers along with the metal splats.

These oxide structures constitute permeable pathways through the applied thermal spray and are to be avoided in any application, especially where corrosion is present. Chemical and process controls are employed to significantly inhibit in-flight oxide formation.

Bond Strength

The problem of bond strength, both between the applied metal particles and the substrate, was solved by increasing velocity and improving the quality of the substrate surface preparation. When the molten metal particles hit the substrate with a suitable profile at speeds close to supersonic, they splat and embed metal into the substrate, forming tight bonds. The particles themselves do not have a perfectly smooth microstructure; this feature promotes good intersplat adhesion. Multiple additional overlapping passes of the thermal spray torch then create a 500-micron thick cladding with excellent adhesion throughout. ASTM adhesion pull-off tests measure bond strengths of 30 - 60MPa.

Case Study 1: Fixing Failed Low Velocity Thermal Spray Coatings

The Problem

A US refinery identified a problem with its second stage desalter and overhead accumulator vessels during a routine inspection.

A nickel-copper thermal spray coating had been applied in both vessels approximately 20 years ago. Initially, the coating performed as expected. However, after some time, localized damage was evident on the bottom third of both vessels, leading to deep pitting and metal wastage beyond the existing corrosion allowance.

Thermal Spray Coating and Weld Failures

Typical thermal spray coatings are not suitable for internal protection of mission critical process equipment due to their permeability, weaker bond strength and propensity to cracking. These “low velocity” thermal spray systems cannot produce flat and tightly packed particle sizes or nano-scale grain structures, leading to the coating’s failure due to corrosion and/ or permeation.

Furthermore, weld repairs were also attempted, adjacent to the failing thermal spray, and a crack had formed on its heat affected zone (HAZ). In 2017, refinery engineers decided they needed a more permanent solution.

The Solution

An HVTS alloy cladding solution was chosen to stop corrosion for the expected life of the asset without any further maintenance anticipated for at least the next 15+ years.

HVTS technology utilizes alloy materials, which offer erosion-corrosion protection, even in high-temperature and high-pressure service up to 1371°C/2500°F.

The cladding option also offered significant time savings compared with weld overlay. As a result, the refinery project manager welcomed the solution, and HVTS was applied in the Spring of 2019.

The bottom third of the overhead accumulator, including the stem pipe with a vortex breaker and a flange, were protected with HVTS. Regular inspections have shown no deterioration of the cladding since application.

Key Benefits of HVTS

  • More Robust than Organic Coatings

HVTS is considered more robust than organic coatings for several reasons. Firstly, HVTS relies on mechanical bonding to the substrate; molten particles are propelled at high velocities creating a bond that is inherently stronger than the adhesive bond typical with organic coatings.

Furthermore, HVTS has a higher immersion temperature resistance which makes it often chosen for applications involving immersion in aggressive substances. Its resistance to immersion at elevated temperatures surpasses that of organic coatings, which may experience degradation or chemical breakdown when exposed to corrosive liquids or gases.

For example, TCO in Kazakhstan holds 26 billion barrels of oil and gas and has a high sour gas (hydrogen sulfide or H2S) content of about 6%. The plant identified major corrosion and process vessel integrity issues due to earlier applications of organic coatings. These coatings are often solvent-based, and in these instances, apart from other limitations, problems are experienced due to solvent retention within the film. This retained solvent will then increase in volume as it is exposed to higher temperatures, which in turn leads to blistering.

In contrast, the robustness of HVTS compared to organic coatings can also be attributed to its hardness, temperature resistance, flexibility in thickness and resilience to mechanical and chemical stresses.

  • More Cost-effective than Weld Overlay

HVTS offers several cost-effective advantages over traditional weld overlay methods, such as:

  • Reduced Downtime and Faster Application

HVTS has a faster application process compared to weld overlay. Traditional weld overlay involves time-consuming welding procedures, which may require the shutdown of equipment or entire facilities. In contrast, HVTS can be applied more rapidly, minimizing downtime, and allowing for quicker return to service. The efficiency of the application process contributes to overall cost savings by reducing the impact on production schedules and operational continuity.


  • No Heat-Affected Zones (HAZ)

Weld overlay introduces heat-affected zones (HAZ) in the substrate material due to the welding process. These zones can experience changes in metallurgical properties, potentially leading to issues such as reduced material strength or increased susceptibility to corrosion. HVTS, being a thermal spray process, does not generate HAZ. This eliminates the need for post-weld heat treatment and reduces the risk of material degradation, simplifying the overall process and reducing associated costs.

Other factors that make HVTS a more cost-effective option include lower equipment and labor costs, material savings, and the elimination of post-weld inspections.

Case Study 2: ½ The Cost and ⅓ The Application Time in LP Separator Renewables Conversion



A multinational oil and gas company has been focusing on meeting the world’s growing energy needs while reducing its carbon emissions intensity. As a result, it converted one of its refineries to a renewable fuels manufacturing and terminal facility to be able to produce approximately 730 million gallons of renewable fuels per year.

The Problem

A low-pressure separator with minimum corrosion allowance remaining was being prepared for renewable diesel conversion to mitigate the risk of carbonic acid attack in the new operating environment. The plant considered welding internal cladding, but that option carried significant costs and would require 30 shifts to apply.

The Solution

The plant selected HVTS to upgrade the metallurgy of the separator to a higher nobility alloy able to prevent carbonic acid corrosion. References, operational excellence, and the ability to inspect the separator in between turnarounds without shutting it down were the key drivers for the plant’s decision. The application cost 50% less than weld metal overlay would have cost and was applied in one-third of the time.

Solving Complex Challenges with HVTS

Case Study 3: Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking in Critical Process Assets


Chloride-induced Stress Corrosion Cracking (CSCC) poses a significant threat to the structural integrity of critical process vessels and hence the process safety of the plant.

This form of corrosion cracking can be challenging to effectively monitor with inspection and once initiated can lead to catastrophic failures if not addressed effectively.

Why does CSCC Occur?

This phenomenon occurs due to a combination of three key factors: the presence of chlorides in the process fluids, tensile stress in the substrate material, and elevated operational temperatures. When these three factors combine, they create a corrosive environment that initiates micro-cracks or micro-pits in the stainless-steel surface. These cracks become the focal points for localized corrosion and can propagate rapidly under the influence of the applied tensile stresses, particularly in Heat Affected Zones or areas of higher material hardness. Austenitic stainless steels, which are commonly used in process vessels due to their excellent corrosion resistance and mechanical properties, are particularly susceptible to CSCC.

The Problem

In this case, IGS was contracted to combat CSCC in six critical process vessels offshore in the Arabian Sea operated by an LNG corporation: four discharge drums, and two condensate strippers.

The Solution

To mitigate CSCC in its process vessels, the HVTS cladding was applied. It delivered an effective corrosion barrier against chloride penetration, isolating the asset substrate from the chlorides in the process fluid, thus preserving the integrity and safety of critical process vessels in the high chloride environment.

After ten years in service and three outages/ inspections, all the applied cladding was found to be in its original condition, devoid of any cracks, blistering, or delamination.

ESG Considerations

HVTS is considered advantageous for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) objectives due to its specific characteristics and performance attributes, such as:


 Reduced Environmental Impact:

The application of HVTS often involves fewer environmental concerns compared to alternative methods like traditional weld overlay. HVTS typically generates fewer emissions and requires less energy during the application process, contributing to a lower overall environmental footprint.

ESG Reporting and Compliance:

Utilizing HVTS for corrosion protection aligns with ESG reporting and compliance requirements. Organisations that adopt technologies with environmental benefits, such as HVTS, can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability in their reporting and contribute to a positive ESG score.

Long-Term Sustainability:

HVTS coatings are designed for durability, providing long-term protection against corrosion. This longevity aligns with sustainability goals by reducing the frequency of coating applications and associated resource consumption over the asset's lifecycle.

Case Study 4: HVTS and ESG


A recent ESG case study conducted by Integrated Global Services (IGS) shows a breakdown of the O&G projects that IGS has completed since 2012. Looking at the statistics of 1354 projects, with an average scope of 680 sqft. each, for only the past 11 years the following calculation can be done to determine the amount of carbon dioxide that would potentially have been released into the atmosphere if those vessels had to be replaced.

 304,090 tonCO2 is equivalent to 703,340 barrels of oil consumed or 340,627,459 pounds of coal burned.

Conclusion: Advancing Corrosion Mitigation for Sustainable Industrial Practices

In the ever-evolving landscape of corrosion mitigation technologies, the journey from conventional methods to cutting-edge solutions like HVTS has been transformative. As we navigate the lessons learned from thermal spray applications in process vessels and columns, a clear narrative emerges—a narrative of innovation, quality standards, and sustainable practices.

CRA technologies signify a commitment to a future where corrosion mitigation goes hand in hand with environmental responsibility and operational efficiency. With each use case, HVTS reinforces its role as a cornerstone in the pursuit of a corrosion-free, sustainable industrial landscape.







FBW_192_Facility Investment


Not content with being a global leader and manufacturer of lower carbon, energy efficient heat transfer solutions, Fulton Limited has gone a step further with its own Net Zero plans by embracing green technology initiatives at its UK headquarters.

Commenting for Fulton, managing director Carl Knight says: “With solutions like our award-winning VSRT and electric steam boilers, we are committed to working with customers to ensure their processes are as efficient as possible. What’s more, by adopting heat transfer solutions and decarbonisation strategies that are designed to reduce lifecycle costs, we are helping our customers on their Road to Net Zero.

“But Net Zero isn’t just the goal of our customers. Realising the potential energy and carbon savings we could achieve by utilising otherwise redundant roof space, we invited Heatsource Direct to run some figures on the savings achieved by installing roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, and we were impressed.”.

Installed and commissioned in 2022, the roof-mounted solar panel installation has already proved a valuable investment for Fulton and is on track to save the company over 40 tonnes of CO2 and nearly 90,000 kWh of energy in just the first year.

Commenting for Heatsource Direct, managing director Tom Thurling says: “This is a great example of what a SME can achieve from a relatively simple installation. With a feed-in tariff agreed and in place, Fulton is set to recover over 33% of the total cost of installation in just 12 months, with a total ROI of less than three years. But what is perhaps more impressive are the lifetime savings, with the figures estimating a total production of over two million kWh, and nearly one million tonnes of CO2 and approximately £1.25 million saved!”.

Spurred on by these savings, Fulton has gone further in bolstering its green credentials by installing six EV charging points at its Bristol facility and rolled out a fleet of electric vehicles, including six EVs and one Hybrid vehicle, for its sales and service managers. Additionally, the company is looking at the option of a battery installation to store the energy from the PV installation, rather than simply feeding the small amount of excess energy generated back into the grid.

For further information contact Carl Knight

Fulton Limited, Fernhurst Road, Bristol, BS5 7FG

Tel: 0117 972 3322 Fax: 0117 972 3358

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Web:


Reducing CO2 emissions together with considerably lower running costs are two good reasons to embrace boiler technology and improve its efficiency.  The capital costs of installing new industrial boilers or retrofitting existing ones are, however, significant and can be technically challenging.  At the same time navigating the complex regulatory processes and ensuring ongoing compliance is both time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Compliance with boiler inspections and maintenance procedures is critical and potentially demanding for those industries that are already operating under intense pressure or with limited resources.

Burning less fuel in the boiler to both save money and reduce emissions without making the process more efficient is ineffective as the fuel usage and its equivalent CO2 output is balanced to production. Without on-site expertise it's advisable to call in the professionals who will carry out a full audit, surveying the system in place to identify the best route to facilitate efficient production capacity with lower fuel usage delivering lower emissions.  Boiler hire is the credible solution to the challenge of the enormous capital investment of replacing an inefficient boiler.

Increasingly businesses and institutions such as food manufacturing and healthcare are turning to hire. Long term hire is increasingly the preferred choice when ageing plant needs to be replaced or when expansion requires additional capacity.  It comes with the obvious cash flow advantages whilst offering the latest fuel efficient boilers. At Byworth Hire this includes the multi award-winning and most energy efficient steam boiler available in the UK:  Yorkshireman2 Boiler.  Developed with rising fuel costs in mind it is the best option for the truly energy conscious incorporating a number of energy saving features including Byworth's use of patented X-ID tubes making it a most cost effective route to choose.  Five years is a long time in the manufacturing cycle so to commit today to purchasing a boiler that is expected to deliver the goods for a potential increase in demand in five years' time makes hiring a more attractive option as in five years it can be sized up or down to suit the business needs. 

Short term hire is the solution for when there are emergency repairs to cover existing boiler breakdowns, annual inspections and maintenance as well as peak seasonal loading which ensures stability and security. This is particularly pertinent for such as food and drink manufacturing.

Hiring provides the latest technology and automation together with full servicing and maintenance plus the knowledge that the boiler being used is doing its bit to keep carbon emissions to a minimum.

Whichever solution Byworth's expert project management team will visit the site and work with the client to specify and conceive purpose-built boiler plant rooms incorporating all the ancillary feed, fuel and blow down tanks including water softening equipment. These plant rooms can be containerised or in purpose built pre-fabricated boiler houses providing a dedicated turnkey project with minimal site work.  By hiring the heavy capital outlay of purchasing new is avoided.

As Byworth Hire Sales Director, Michael Rutter emphasised: 'In a rapidly changing and challenging environment, we need to keep up to speed to deliver the latest advances in technology with reliability to our customers. Our fleet of award-winning modern boilers together with a comprehensive back up service enables us to do just that.'

Preventing Corrosion in Carbon Capture and Storage Amine System Process Vessels: Upgrading Metallurgy with High Nobility Cladding

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) plays a vital role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. Since 2019, the global capacity of CCS has grown by 183%, as of September 2022, demonstrating the popularity of this technology as a method to meet environmental targets. With new technology and processes come new challenges, and CCS is no exception. This article aims to explore the issue of corrosion in amine systems and how the risk can be mitigated by high nobility cladding solutions.

Amine-based systems capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial flue gases. However, these systems present a significant challenge when it comes to corrosion in process vessels due to the aggressive nature of the amine solutions. To address this issue, upgrading the metallurgy of process vessels through high nobility cladding offers an effective solution to prevent corrosion and extend the service life of the equipment.

Understanding Corrosion in Amine Systems

Amine systems involve the use of amines, such as monoethanolamine (MEA), as the solvent to absorb CO2 from flue gases. The amine solutions are highly corrosive, particularly in the presence of oxygen and heat, leading to the degradation of process vessel materials. Corrosion in these systems can result in reduced operational efficiency, increased maintenance costs, and even potential safety risks.

There are several corrosion mechanisms that can occur in CCS amine systems:

  • General Corrosion

It occurs uniformly across the metal surface and leads to a gradual thinning of the metal over time.

  • Pitting Corrosion

Pitting is localized corrosion that leads to the formation of small holes or pits on the metal surface. This type of corrosion can be particularly dangerous as it can cause sudden failures in the equipment.

  • Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

SCC is the cracking of metals under the combined influence of tensile stress and a corrosive environment. Amine systems can create conditions that promote SCC, leading to catastrophic failures in stressed components.

  • Corrosion by CO2 Decomposition Products

CO2 degradation products like carbamate and bicarbonate can also contribute to corrosion in the amine system.

Upgrading Metallurgy with High Nobility Cladding

To combat corrosion in amine system process vessels, upgrading the vessel's metallurgy through high nobility cladding has proven to be an effective solution. High nobility cladding involves the application of a protective layer of noble metals, for example, an alloy of Chromium, Nickel, and Molybdenum, onto the surface of the vessel. This cladding provides enhanced resistance to corrosion and extends the vessel's service life.

Benefits of High Nobility Cladding

  • Corrosion Resistance

High nobility cladding materials offer superior resistance to corrosion, even in aggressive amine environments. The protective layer acts as a barrier, preventing direct contact between the amine solution and the base metal.

  • Improved Reliability

By upgrading the process vessel's metallurgy, high nobility cladding significantly reduces the occurrence of corrosion-related failures. This leads to improved operational reliability and a decrease in unplanned downtime.

  • Extended Service Life

The implementation of high nobility cladding enhances the durability of process vessels, resulting in extended service life. This allows for a more cost-effective and sustainable operation of the CCS amine system.

  • Installation and Maintenance Considerations

The successful application of high nobility cladding in amine system process vessels requires careful planning and execution. Key considerations include:

  • Surface Preparation: Proper surface preparation, including cleaning and pre-treatment, is crucial to ensure optimal adhesion of the cladding material.
  • Cladding Selection: The selection of the appropriate cladding material should consider the specific corrosion resistance requirements of the amine system. Stainless steel, nickel alloys, or other high-nobility materials are commonly used for this purpose.
  • Quality Control: Rigorous quality control measures should be in place during the cladding process to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the protective layer. Non-destructive testing methods can be employed to detect any defects or discontinuities.
  • Regular Inspections: Periodic inspections should be conducted to monitor the condition of the cladding and identify any signs of degradation or damage. This allows for timely maintenance and repairs to maintain the corrosion protection.

Introduction to HVTS

High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS) is a proprietary high nobility cladding solution developed by Integrated Global Services (IGS). Due to its superior corrosion protection properties, it is referred to as a cladding, rather than a coating. HVTS involves the on-site application of a high-alloy corrosion-resistant cladding that consists of flat and tightly packed micro-sized metallic particles.

HVTS provides excellent value and results for protecting amine systems from corrosion and improving longevity at a fraction of the cost and time of weld overlay.

The Benefits of HVTS

A cladding solution, specifically HVTS, has many benefits for carbon capture and storage plants. The benefits include:

  • Corrosion Resistance

HVTS cladding provides excellent protection against corrosion. The dense and tightly bonded cladding acts as a protective barrier. This helps extend the lifespan of the amine system, reduces maintenance requirements, and enhances overall reliability.

  • No Dilution or Heat Affected Zone (HAZ)

Unlike Weld Metal Overlay (WMO), HVTS does not generate a Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) and does not place residual stresses on the base metal as the temperature of the base metal remains low.

  • Refurbished or Replaced In-situ

HVTS can be reliably refurbished or even replaced in situ without replacing the underlying component. This contrasts with 625 weld-overlaid components which must be replaced at the end of life.

  • Fast Application

HVTS cladding can be applied relatively quickly, making the process efficient for large-scale industrial applications. The high-velocity spraying technique enables fast coverage of large surface areas, reducing downtime and production interruptions.

  • Cost-Effective Solution

HVTS and other high nobility claddings offer a cost-effective solution for extending the service life of components and equipment. By providing corrosion and wear protection, the cladding can reduce the frequency of component replacements and maintenance requirements, resulting in cost savings over time.


  • Environmental Benefits

HVTS cladding can contribute to achieving environmental targets. By improving the durability and longevity of components, they help reduce the consumption of resources and minimize waste generated from frequent replacements. Additionally, HVTS can enhance the energy efficiency of equipment, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower CO2 and NOx emissions.

HVTS Cladding Process and Application

The application of High Velocity Thermal Spray (HVTS) to amine systems is always undertaken by trained IGS cladding technicians as training and expertise in HVTS application techniques are crucial to achieving high-quality and reliable cladding.

The application of HVTS involves the following steps:

  1. Surface Preparation

The surfaces of the metal need to be properly prepared before the application of HVTS cladding. This typically involves cleaning the surfaces to remove contaminants such as rust, scale, oil, or any other substances that could affect the adhesion of the cladding. Mechanical methods like grit blasting or wire brushing are sometimes used for surface preparation if required.

  1. Cladding Selection

The appropriate HVTS cladding material is selected based on the specific requirements, such as corrosion resistance, wear resistance, or thermal insulation.

  1. HVTS Equipment Setup

The HVTS equipment, including the spray gun, gas supply system, and control unit, is set up according to stringent IGS guidelines and specifications. The system is calibrated to ensure accurate and consistent application of the cladding.

  1. Application of HVTS Cladding

The HVTS cladding is applied using a high-velocity thermal spray gun. The gun atomizes a proprietary wire feedstock in a supersonic gas stream, producing a cladding that consists of flat and tightly packed micro-sized particles.

  1. Post-application and Quality Assurance

Quality control measures, such as visual inspection, thickness measurement, and adhesion testing, are conducted to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the HVTS cladding. Any necessary touch-ups or rework can be performed if required.

High Nobility Cladding Application Experience

Integrated Global Services (IGS) has extensive experience and expertise in addressing corrosion challenges in amine systems. With a proven track record in the field of corrosion protection and metallurgical upgrades, IGS has successfully implemented high nobility cladding solutions in numerous amine system process vessels over the last 30 years.

A deep understanding of the corrosive nature of amine solutions and the detrimental effects they can have on process vessel metallurgy, is important. Leveraging industry knowledge and advanced technologies, IGS has developed tailored solutions to combat corrosion and enhance the performance and longevity of amine system equipment.

Through years of research and practical application, IGS has honed their cladding techniques to ensure optimal adhesion and corrosion resistance. Their team of highly skilled technicians follows stringent quality control measures during the cladding process, ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of the protective layer.

Moreover, IGS provides comprehensive corrosion assessment services, leveraging expertise to identify vulnerable areas in amine systems. By conducting thorough inspections and evaluations, recommendations can be made and implementation of the most suitable cladding materials and techniques to prevent corrosion and extend the service life of process vessels can be undertaken.

Preventing corrosion in amine system process vessels is crucial for the successful and sustainable operation of carbon capture and storage facilities. Upgrading vessel metallurgy through high nobility cladding offers an effective solution to combat corrosion, extend equipment service life, and ensure operational reliability. By implementing high nobility cladding, CCS operators can mitigate the adverse effects of amine corrosion, reduce maintenance costs, and contribute to the long-term viability of carbon capture technologies in the fight against climate change.

Find out more:

The Causes of Underperforming Fired Heaters and Available Solutions


Improving fired heater performance is crucial for optimizing energy consumption, reducing emissions, and enhancing overall process performance. In large-scale process facilities, energy typically accounts for at least 50% of operating costs. An energy use reduction of 10% will often improve margins by 5% and reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.

This article will discuss symptoms and causes of fired heater performance issues, and the solutions available to fix them and improve efficiency.

What are the Symptoms of Underperforming Fired Heaters?

Inefficient fired heaters can lead to increased energy consumption, decreased production rates, and potentially unsafe operating conditions. There are several symptoms of fired heater underperformance:

  • Elevated Bridgewall Temperature
  • Tube Overheating
  • High Stack Temperature
  • Production Bottleneck
  • Excessive CO2 and NOx Emissions
  • Insufficient Process Pre-heat/Steam Production
  • Excessive Ammonia Slip

What are the Causes and Solutions of Underperforming Fired Heaters?

Cause 1: Fouled Convection Section Tubes

Fouling, which is the accumulation of deposits on the inner surfaces of the heater tubes in the convection section, can reduce heat transfer efficiency. Common fouling agents include carbon deposits, coke, ash, and other particulates. Fouled tubes can reduce heat transfer rates, increase fuel consumption, and decrease overall efficiency.

Solution 1: Robotic Convection Section Cleaning

To restore heat transfer efficiency, convection section tubes should be cleaned regularly. Robotic methods to remove fouling are now favoured as they offer several benefits compared to traditional manual cleaning methods, including:

Increased efficiency and speed: Robotic systems are more precise and can navigate complex geometries and hard-to-access areas with greater speed. This results in faster cleaning cycles and reduced downtime during maintenance.

Remote Operation: Robotic cleaning systems are often operated remotely, allowing technicians to control and monitor the cleaning process from a safe distance. This is particularly advantageous in situations where the convection section poses safety challenges.

Cost Saving: The initial investment in robotic cleaning services can often be higher than manual labor costs, however, the long-term benefits often outweigh this. Improved efficiency, reduced downtime, enhanced performance, and decreased maintenance needs can lead to significant cost savings over the equipment's lifespan.

Environmental Benefits: Efficient convection section cleaning helps maintain optimal heat transfer efficiency, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower CO2 and NOx emissions. This aligns with sustainability goals and environmental regulations.

Conducting a technical evaluation before cleaning the convection section is advisable. This will indicate the expected performance gains in terms of increase in capacity, % reduction in emissions, and fuel consumption benefits.





Watch: Robotic Convection Cleaning





Cause 2: Radiant Tube Scaling

Radiant tubes are designed to transfer heat from the combustion of fuel to the process fluid or material being heated. However, they are susceptible to scaling, which is the deposition of solid materials on the external surfaces of the tubes. Scaling can have several negative effects on the performance and efficiency of radiant tubes including reduced heat transfer efficiency, tube overheating, emissions increase, and higher bridgewall temperatures.

Solution 2: High Emissivity Coatings

High emissivity coatings, such as Cetek coatings, are materials that besides improving radiant heat transfer, also prevent oxidation and scale formation on the radiant tubes. These coatings are applied to the external surfaces of the tubes and significantly enhance heat transfer to the process and protect tubes from scaling. They are designed to withstand high temperatures and harsh operating conditions.

Some of the benefits of high emissivity coatings include:

Extended Tube Lifespan: By preventing oxidation and associated tube wall thinning, the life of the radiant tubes can be extended, if oxidation is the limiting factor.

Reduced Fuel Consumption: High emissivity coatings can help achieve the desired process temperatures with less energy input by improving heat transfer efficiency. This can lead to reduced fuel consumption and lower operating costs.

Watch: Catalytic Reformer Heater Process Tube Coating


Cause 3: Refractory Deterioration

Refractory deterioration can lead to hot spots on refractory material. It is an area of localized high temperature within a furnace, kiln, or other high-temperature process equipment where the refractory material is exposed to more intense heat than the surrounding areas. Hot spots can occur for various reasons and can have negative implications for the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the refractory lining.

In these cases, the operator must decide whether to interrupt production by bringing the heater off-line to make a conventional repair or continue at reduced capacity until the next scheduled shutdown.

Solution 3: Online Heater Repairs

To avoid costly shutdowns or operating at a reduced capacity, it is possible to conduct online refractory repairs until further maintenance can take place during a planned shutdown.

Online refractory repair can be a valuable strategy to extend the lifespan of refractory linings and minimize downtime. However, it should only be performed by qualified and experienced personnel following proper safety guidelines and in accordance with industry best practices. Consulting with Hot-tek refractory experts and conducting thorough assessments are essential to ensure a successful outcome.

See How It Works: Online Refractory Repair


There are many causes of fired heater underperformance. It is important to identify warning signs early as even a 1-2% decrease in efficiency in fired heaters can consume an additional $1m in fuel across a 12-month period.  

To address this issue, it's crucial to conduct regular inspections, implement proper maintenance practices, monitor operating parameters, and address any issues promptly. Engaging with experienced process engineers and fired heater experts can help diagnose and resolve underperformance issues effectively.

Contact Integrated Global Services (IGS) for a free technical evaluation.

IGS fired heater experts will perform a comprehensive technical evaluation that will determine your efficiency improvement (%) and the payback period as well as projected (%) improvement based on your objectives (fuel/emission reduction, capacity increase or a combination of both).

To Claim Your Free Technical Evaluation, Visit:

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