September 2020

Heat Transfer

Good, bad and ugly process burner flames

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) maximum achievable control technology (MACT) fired heater inspection program, the authors’ company has inspected nearly 1,000 heaters since the program started in 2015. These inspections have revealed all types of flames—the good, bad and ugly. Here, good is defined as no changes are needed; bad is defined as changes are needed where the conditions are not likely dangerous; and ugly is defined as immediate changes are needed because the conditions are potentially dangerous.

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) maximum achievable control technology (MACT) fired heater inspection program, the authors’ company has inspected nearly 1,000 heaters since the program started in 2015. These inspections have revealed all types of flames—the good, bad and ugly. Here, good is defined as no changes are needed; bad is defined as changes are needed where the conditions are not likely dangerous; and ugly is defined as immediate changes are needed because the conditions are potentially dangerous. Judging flame quality is somewhat subjective, as no instrument exists to measure it. However, some basic principles can be used to determine the conditions of

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