January 2017

Heat Transfer

Failure analysis of olefin furnace radiant tubes

A detailed failure investigation into the cracking of ethylene furnace radiant tubes included visual, fractographic, metallographic, scanning electron microscopy/x-ray spectroscopy, and hardness and chemical examinations. These analyses showed that the tube crack was initiated by thermal shock, accompanied by restrained thermal expansion due to internal coke layer formation. Details of the failure’s contributing factors, and recommendations to avoid similar failures, are shared here.

Al-Meshari, A., van Zyl, G., SABIC Technology Centre

A detailed failure investigation into the cracking of ethylene furnace radiant tubes included visual, fractographic, metallographic, scanning electron microscopy/x-ray spectroscopy, and hardness and chemical examinations. These analyses showed that the tube crack was initiated by thermal shock, accompanied by restrained thermal expansion due to internal coke layer formation. Details of the failure’s contributing factors, and recommendations to avoid similar failures, are shared here. Background A fire in the radiant section of an olefin furnace necessitated an emergency plant shutdown. An inspection of the furnace internals showed the presence of a circumferential crack at one of the weld

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