De-Coke Reactor Tubes

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Why It Is Essential To De-Coke Reactor Tubes At Regular Intervals

By the end of the 19th century, coal had begun to replace wood as the fuel of choice both in the home and in industry. Its main virtue was its ability to generate far more heat. High temperatures are a common requirement in many industrial processes and these are often produced by means of a furnace. However, burning coal leads to a continuous build-up of coke deposit which, in turn, makes it necessary to de-coke the inner walls of furnace reactor tubes on a fairly regular basis.

If allowed to continue, the deposits would keep on growing in thickness and, in time, this would begin to obstruct the free flow of process liquids. The restricted flow would lead to a steady build-up of pressure within the furnace and this could then threaten its structural integrity. Furthermore, because the deposit of coke also acts as an insulating layer, this results in reduced heat transfer which not only makes the process less efficient but also increases operating costs. Both are good reasons to de-coke reactor tubes before they can begin to cause problems.

A similar problem affects households in which coal fires are used, albeit on a much smaller scale. Up until the latter part of the nineteenth-century, the cleaning was performed by small boys and girls who scraped the inside walls of the flues under the supervision of a “master sweep”. The banning of child labour for this purpose led to the introduction of brushes and extendable rods. These were later replaced by chemical cleaners and vacuuming. However, even the latter is no match for the thick deposits that develop inside a furnace. Consequently, to de-coke reactor tubes requires a much tougher approach.

The solution takes the form of a pig. Not the four-legged variety that contributes the bacon for your breakfast, however, but a highly sophisticated machine, so named for its tendency to squeal when in use. Consisting of a metal framework packed full of smart electronics, it is designed to fit snuggly inside the tubes and travel along their length while clearing away all of the encrusted deposit on the way. These patented devices are specifically designed to de-coke reactor tubes and are able to negotiate bends and other possible obstructions without becoming stuck.

While the cleaning process does require tough measures, it is important that the pig causes no damage to the interior walls of a pipe during its transit. It must, therefore, be designed with care and operated only by experienced personnel. To ensure that the cleansing process is effective, verification runs are performed to check that the required level of cleanliness has been attained. After completing the de-coke process, the reactor tubes will normally be checked for any evidence of physical wear and tear. For such purposes, a second type of pig with special sensors is used to measure the minimum thickness of the furnace tubes.

The benefits of conducting regular cleaning and inspections are numerous. These include reduced hotspots, improved heat exchange, lower differential pressure, increased furnace capacity, reduced energy consumption, and longer tube life. Let’s put it another way. Ensuring to de-coke furnace reactor tubes on a regular basis can only lead to lower costs and higher profits.

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