How to avoid Recovery Boiler Downtimes with Quality Assurance

Murphy’s Law states: ”Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Guess what: explosions in recovery boiler operations are not a modern fairy tale, they happen in reality. And you don`t want to bear the consequences, which include significant damage to the boiler and shut-down times to bring the boiler back into daily operations.

Continued quality assurance is the key to avoid unplanned downtime and the associated costs. In this article we discuss the three critical spots in a recovery boiler, which must be checked regularly:

1. Super heater corrosion

High wear on super heaters can have several reasons. The main reason is mostly the reaction between deposits and the material accelerated by the high temperature stresses. They are caused by the combustion in the boiler. The check of the material thickness as well as a visual check of the super heater material should be done in predefined cycles. This can help to prevent problems in advance, as well as react and plan maintenance for the next shuts.

2. Floor bends

Floor bends are a critical area in the boiler. They have high thermal stresses due to smelt, as well as the combustion, which takes place in the lower furnace. They are flown trough by water, therefore they are critical areas for leakages. When a leakage occurs at these areas, the possibility for a smelt water explosion is high.Therefore, a careful inspection including thickness measurements, a check of the pipe cracking, as well as a complete and thorough visual inspection of welds must be done.

3. Primary air ports:

Primary air ports are the most important air suppliers in the recovery boiler. They are directly related to the reduction degree and the combustion temperature, as well as the flue gas emissions, such as NOx and CO. They are often protected by casted inlays. Due to high thermal stresses, they have a tendency to micro cracking. Visual and penetration testing is a must for this area.

Which test methods are used to check these three critical issues?

By means of a visual testing (VT), it is possible to detect errors such as mechanical damage, deviations in color and luster, or even open cracks. Based on the penetration testing (PT), surface cracks and pores, which are invisible to the naked eye, can be perceived through fluorescent and color penetrants. Magnetic particle testing (MT) is a method for identifying cracks in or near the surface of ferromagnetic materials. Ultrasonic testing (UT) is an acoustic method for detecting material errors by means of ultrasound. The Radiographic testing (RT) is an imaging method for fault detection in the interior of components.

Professional Quality Assurance is always an investment in the future to secure:

  • Projectable maintenance costs
  • Compliance and improvement of operational safety
  • More effective use of plants and machines
  • Reduction of costly downtime to the minimum
  • Continuous monitoring of critical pressure-bearing components

Only through a professional quality assurance, it is possible to carry out a maintenance and, thus, to determine or create a specific quality plan. This is the only way to ensure the effective and economic use of plants and machines in the future.

Our focus in the field of measurement and testing technology is on boiler construction, pressure vessel systems and pipe heat exchangers.

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