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Happy Chinese New Year!

In this bulletin, we take a look at achieving continuous thermal imaging to monitor the Tube Wall Temperatures inside Reformers and Crackers. Before we begin, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends and customers a Happy Chinese New Year ahead.

For this festive period, our office will be closed from 27 January 2017 to 30 January 2017. We resume our operations on 31 January 2017.

We wish everyone good health and prosperity in the coming year of the fire rooster. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thermal Imaging Camera For Steam Reformers and Ethylene Crackers

The reformer furnace is often one of the most challenging assets to maintain and operate efficiently. Common issues that occur involve burners, flue gas distribution and catalysts.

With the introduction of the NIR-B 3XR, the user is able to monitor temperatures of large areas with its installation in a minimally invasive hole in the furnace wall.

The NIR-B 3XR is a new short wavelength radiometric borescope thermal imager utilizing advanced optics, signal processing and linearization techniques. This process thermal imager has an extremely wide dynamic range of 600 to 1800°C (1112 to 3272°F)

The Problem

Improperly managed tube wall temperatures can be extremely costly for the plant.

Tube Wall Temperature (Celsius) Tube Life
860 10 years
880 5 years
900 2.5 years
925 11 months
950 4.5 months
972 2 months
1000 4 weeks
1050 5.5 days
1100 1 day

As a rule of thumb, approximately every 20 degrees above the design temperature will half the tube life. A typical rebuild of a 400 tube reformer can easily go upwards of S$10M just for materials alone. Accounting for labour and lost of production, this amount can double.

As such, it is normal for producers to ensure that the Tube Wall Temperature is maintained in the safe zone, leading to lower production rates. Despite this, hot spots still do cause problems which can be hard to identify only with the use of handheld pyrometers by operators on a limited schedule.

Near Infrared Borescope

The Solution

In recent years there has been increasing interest in the use of Process thermal imaging cameras for continuous and more complete measurement of the equipment and process. By using this method some hydrogen producers are reporting a 2% increase in production while still operating in a safe condition within their integrity operating window.

Because of its Wide Dynamic Range the NIR-B 3XR is ideal for thermal imaging and analysis of processes that have large differential temperatures within the scene.


  • The through the furnace wall design enables easy installation via a minimally invasive hole in the furnace wall.
  • The 90 degree wide angle lens tip enables users to view and measure temperatures of large scenes with just one imager.
  • Both the NIR-B 3XR and the Field Connection Box are HazLoc rated.
NIR-B setup
Black and White Thermal ImageColoured Thermal Image

Land Image Processing Software (LIPS)

An industrial Ethernet output connects to a local field connection box (FCB) that provides electrical power to the imager and an interface for fiber-optic Ethernet connections to the server. Image processing software enables the transfer of up to 100 data points via Ethernet TCP/IP to the DCS. Software records streams of data in video and individual frames for further analysis using profiles, points and areas of interest. There is an option for alarms for use in control and automation, and a playback facility of any pre-alarm event.

Data from the thermal imager can also be used to monitor catalyst activity in the reformer in the form of carbon margin and opportunities for recovering lost production through the reformer.

More Information

LAND Instruments Article: Fixed Thermal Imaging Enhances Hydrogen Steam Reforming Safety