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Becht Steam Coil Failure Analysis

Background & Approach

Last March, Becht Engineering was asked by a client to inspect and analyze the development of oxidation and associated failures in a steam preheat coil mounted in a stack of a reformer heater. Because the client intended to replace the steam coil during an upcoming shutdown, they requested that Becht tailor an analysis to identify more robust design options that could be incorporated during that time.

Becht Engineering deployed three Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that conducted work in four stages: 1) Design Review; 2) Operational Review; 3) Root Cause Analysis (RCA), and then 4) offered recommendations to the client. The SMEs consisted of a Furnace Engineering Specialist, a Fire Heater Process expert, and a Fitness for Service (FFS) Specialist in Fatigue and Fracture Mechanics and Non-linear Stress Analysis.

Results

Our SMEs found that oxidation of the coil creates tube cracks and other failures. With their many years of experience in heavy industry and ability to conduct empirically-sound testing and analysis, our SMEs found that oxidation and blistering of the tube was caused by increased flame extension and/or secondary combustion of unburned combustibles in and around the coil.

Becht Engineering provided three detailed recommendations to the client in order to mitigate the situation. After reviewing a variety of data sheets from the client, Becht provided a robust 18-page report that outlined methodology, analysis, conclusion, and recommendations to solve the problem. The entire scope of work was completed in less than two weeks after receiving the proper documents and data sheets from the client.

As a direct result of Becht Engineering’s failure analysis, these issues that were previously unknown to the client were mitigated in a safe, timely, and cost-efficient manner.