What is critical to operators of thermal plants? Of primary importance is the delivery of process steam and electric power within the established environmental limits for the site. As long as the operator can meet those goals safely, subtle losses of efficiency are often ignored or not recognized as significant. As a result, tubular air heater performance is not recognized as critical until high level operational goals are affected or at risk.
Tubular air heater damage and leakage can affect many systems and cost centers. These include auxiliary loads, fuel consumption, emission control, consumables and, eventually, steam production. This article describes several physical damage mechanisms that can affect tubular air heater performance.