Putting Observation, Experience and Reasoning to Work

I had to laugh when I read the first line of Jay Hudson's article. In it, he says that while less than 10 percent of the thermal fluid systems he works on operate in the top 100°F of thermal fluids' temperature range, most of the problems he helps solve relate to those systems. Nearly all of what I learned in statistics during college has left me, but I do remember that it's the outliers that will always give you trouble. Fortunately, we've lined up articles and columns that will help you deal even with the trickiest system for our annual 10 Tips issue.

First up is “Thermal Fluid Pumps for 650 to 750°F Service” by Jay Hudson, president of J.G. Hudson & Associates, Salisbury, N.C. Hudson notes that pumps for higher temperature service require particular features for best performance, and applying these features to pumps used in lower temperature service will enhance their performance as well. When considering pumps for a higher temperature system, the processor will benefit from paying particular attention to four specific areas: specification and sizing, installation, operation and maintenance. He outlines a thorough roadmap to high temperature pump success beginning on page 27.

Anu Vij, senior engineer and project manager at Pro-Environmental Inc., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., looks at another piece of critical process equipment, particularly during these times of high energy costs: thermal oxidizers. Over the past few years, Vij asserts, much attention has been given to the pros and cons of the types of ceramic media used in regenerative thermal oxidizers, but other critical aspects of the system such as dampers and burners have not been widely addressed. Vij provides an overview of the damper technologies used in regenerative thermal oxidizer systems in “Valve View” starting on page 32.

In “Hot Water vs. Electric Heat Tracing,” Michael Brown, president of M.A.P.S. Inc., Elmhurst, Ill., and Julie Ahner, marketing manager-industrial controls at Tyco Thermal Controls, Menlo Park, Calif., explain how a confectionery plant commissioned an investment study to compare total installed and operating costs of both hot water and electrical heat-tracing systems. Used for process temperature maintenance of a chocolate-carrying pipeline, the heating system was destined to serve a critical role at the plant, and the confectioner wanted to select a system that made the best economic and process sense.

In “Improve Your Boiler's Efficiency,” the Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies program offers simple steps to improve combustion efficiency, minimize blowdown and recover heat from your boiler. For example, the correct amount of excess air is determined from analyzing flue gas oxygen or carbon dioxide concentrations. Inadequate excess air results in unburned combustibles (fuel, soot, smoke and carbon monoxide) while too much results in heat lost due to the increased flue gas flow -- thus lowering the overall boiler fuel-to-steam efficiency.

Finally, in “Condition Monitoring Improves Predictive Maintenance,” Phillip Mosher of Houston-based Flowserve explains how logging live-equipment-condition data on a regular basis through a condition monitoring routine offers plants a more scientific approach to managing equipment performance. Collecting data on a regular basis enables technicians to identify trends and thus anticipate imminent machine failures; with advance notice comes sufficient time for planning corrective actions.

Linda Becker
Associate Publisher & Editor