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FIRED HEATERS
TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.0

1.0

INTRODUCTION
1.1
GENERAL
1.2
CHARACTERISTICS AND USE OF FIRED HEATERS
1.3
SPECIFICATION SHEETS
1.4
DATA SOURCES
1.5
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS

2.0

PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA


2.1
GENERAL
2.2
RADIANT HEAT FLUX AND RADIANT EFFICIENCY
2.3
FURNACE HEAT LOSSES AND MECHANICAL DRAFT OPERATION
2.4
CONVECTION HEAT RECOVERY
2.5
IMPORTANT PROPERTIES OF FUELS
2.5.1 Fuel Heating Values (Heats of Combustion)
2.5.2 Vanadium Content (Liquid Fuels)
2.5.3 Chloride, Fluoride and Sodium Content (Liquid Fuels)
2.5.4 Sulfur Content
2.5.5 Other Considerations
2.6
COMBUSTION CALCULATIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS
2.7
INSTRUMENTS AND SAFETY DEVICES
2.7.1 Primary Control Variables
2.7.2 Secondary Instrumentation
2.7.3 Safety Shutdowns and Alarms
2.7.4 Safety Devices
2.8
OFF DESIGN CONDITIONS
2.8.1 Turndown Operation
2.8.2 Overdesign
2.9
MISCELLANEOUS GUIDELINES
2.9.1 Heater Selection
2.9.2 Heater Tube Design Conditions
2.9.3 Process Tube and Fitting Corrosion Allowance
2.9.4 Pressure Drop
2.9.5 Piping Considerations
2.9.6 Heater Grid
2.10
DECOKING
2.11
REVIEW AND REVISIONS
2.12
EXAMPLE CALCULATIONS

3.0

FIRED HEATER REBOILER


3.1
GENERAL
3.2
CALCULATIONS
3.2.1 Heater Selection and Flowsketch
3.2.2 Pressure Profile
3.2.3 Fluid Composition
3.2.4 Percent Vaporization
3.2.5 Flash Calculations and Heater Grid

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3.3

3.4

3.5
3.6

SPECIFICATION SHEETS
3.3.1 Average (Radiant) Flux Density
3.3.2 Process Tube Design Temperature and Pressure
3.3.3 Decoking Pressure and Temperature
3.3.4 Items Included in Scope of Each Heater
3.3.5 Site and Utility Data
3.3.6 Fuel Data
3.3.7 Materials of Construction and Corrosion Allowance
AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT
3.4.1 Reboiler Circulation System and Control
3.4.2 Decoking Effluent Quench Drum
3.4.3 Emergency Shutdown System
EXAMPLE SPECIFICATION SHEETS
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

4.0

CRUDE OIL HEATER


4.1
GENERAL
4.2
CALCULATIONS
4.2.1 Heater Selection and Flowsketch
4.2.2 Pressure Profile
4.2.3 Flash Calculations
4.2.4 Convection Section Heat Recovery
4.3
SPECIFICATION SHEETS
4.3.1 Average (Radiant) Flux Density
4.3.2 Process Tube Design Temperature and Pressure
4.3.3 Decoking Pressure and Temperature
4.3.4 Items Included in Scope of Each Heater
4.3.5 Site and Utility Data
4.3.6 Fuel Data
4.3.7 Materials of Construction and Corrosion Allowance
4.4
AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT
4.4.1 Decoking Effluent Quench Drum
4.4.2 Emergency Shutdown System
4.5
EXAMPLE SPECIFICATION SHEETS

5.0

STEAM - HYDROCARBON REFORMER


5.1
GENERAL
5.2
REFORMER CALCULATIONS
5.2.1 Background
5.2.2 Calculations
5.3
SPECIFICATION SHEETS
5.3.1 Average (Radiant) Flux Density
5.3.2 Reformer Catalyst Data
5.3.3 Process and Convection Coil Design Temperature and Pressure
5.3.4 Items Included in Scope of Each Heater
5.3.5 Site and Utility Data
5.3.6 Fuel Data
5.4
AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT

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5.5

EXAMPLE CALCULATIONS AND SPECIFICATION SHEETS


5.5.1 Example Calculations for Overall System Heat Balance
5.5.2 Example Specification Sheets

6.0

MATERIALS OF CONSTRUCTION
6.1
TUBE MATERIALS

7.0

UTILITY REQUIREMENTS

8.0

REFERENCES, CODES AND STANDARDS


8.1
REFERENCES
8.2
CODES AND STANDARDS

9.0

REFERENCE ARTICLES

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1.0

INTRODUCTION
1.1

GENERAL
Fired heaters or furnaces are used extensively in the process industry. Some familiar
examples are open hearth blast furnaces, cement kilns, refinery crude oil heaters and
glass furnaces. We will limit our discussion here, however, to fired heaters commonly
used in the chemical process industry, i.e., direct fired tubular heaters. We will use the
words "fired heater" and "furnace" in this context even though they do not fully define the
normal process-type heater.
You, as a Process Engineer, are responsible for specifying required process parameters
such as heat duty, flow, and fuel composition as well as basic furnace configuration. The
task force Mechanical Engineer assigned to fired heaters can assist in formulating a
basic configuration for the furnace. Using all this information the vendor does the
mechanical design, specifying the number of tubes, tube length, and other detailed
information. In short, FDI specifies the performance requirements for a fired heater while
the vendor actual designs it.
This section provides some examples of calculations and specification data sheets for
several types of fired heaters. All are widely used throughout the refining and
petrochemical industries. You should note that the examples presented here are taken
from actual FDI projects.

1.2

CHARACTERISTICS AND USE OF FIRED HEATERS


All furnaces have a fire-box or combustion space where a fuel is burned, and a stack
through which flue gases are discharged to the atmosphere. Fuel is usually natural gas,
refinery gas or fuel oil, but it may be coal or coke. The heat released in the fire-box is
used directly or indirectly to produce a physical or chemical change on a process
material.
Fired heaters or "process furnaces" common to the refining and petrochemical industries
are direct fired tubular heaters. These are generally of two types, cabin or box
(Figure 1-1) and cylindrical or vertical (Figure 1-2). The fluid to be heated is contained in
tube coil rows disposed along the walls and ceiling of the combustion chamber. The
principal mode of heat transfer is radiation. A "convection" section is generally added to
increase the efficiency of the furnace by extraction of additional h eat from the
combustion flue gas enroute to the stack. For more details on fired heater geometry see
reference article entitled Fired Heaters I. In a direct fired tubular heater, radiant heat
from the open-burner flames in the fire-box heats the process material flowing through
the heater tubes. In an indirect heater, the burner flames are enclosed on the sides by
walls, and thus the flames heat these walls. The walls in turn radiate heat to the process
material in the heater tubes (or other enclosure).
There are two general categories of direct fired tubular heaters. We will refer to these as
simple heaters and reactor heaters. A simple heater, such as a crude oil heater, does
just what its name implies; it raises the temperature of a process material. In doing so, it
may vaporize some or all of that material. A familiar type of simple heater is an
incinerator.

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Figure 1-1
BOX HEATER COMPONENTS

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Figure 1-2
VERTICAL HEATER COMPONENTS

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Incinerators are used to burn waste gases. These gases usually have low heating values
and are often toxic. Incinerators ensure essentially complete combustion of such
material. Usually as much heat of combustion as possible is recovered and, hence, the
incinerator is used to heat some process material. A reactor heater also transfers heat to
the process material, but in addition to producing a physical change, the heat initiates
and drives a chemical reaction. A catalyst may be present in the heater tubes to
promote the reaction. Such is the case for a reformer and a fired catalytic cracker.
Other types of reactor heaters such as thermal crackers or fired hydrodealkylation
reactors require no catalyst. Examples of calculations and equipment specification
sheets for both simple and reactor heaters are presented in this section.
At this point you might ask why there is a need for simple or reactor-type fired heaters.
Why not just use conventional shell and tube heat exchangers or reactors with heating
jackets? Generally, a fired heater is used when the required heat duty is unusually large
or when the process temperature is too high for steam or a heat transfer medium such as
Dow-therm or hot oil. Very large heat duties require very large shell and tube heat
exchangers. The practical size of such exchangers is limited by required fluid velocities,
fouling tendencies, etc. Such considerations may warrant the use of a fired heater.
Steam pressures required to give a saturation temperature above 400 oF (204 oC) are not
always available in a process plant. And, above the critical temperature of 703 oF
(373 oC), the latent heat of steam ceases to exist. Dowtherm A generally cannot be used
at temperatures above 750 oF (399 oC). The upper limit for hot oil is around 600 oF
(316 oC). Molten salts can be used at temperatures up to 1,100 oF (529 oC), but these
have very limited application. Invariably, there may be circumstances where either a
fired heater or a shell and tube exchanger will work. In that case, economics and space
requirements may dictate the choice. Note that a fired heater cannot be used if the
process fluid is heat sensitive or if plant or area safety requirements prohibit the use of
an open flame. We have now highlighted some of the major considerations in the
application of fired heaters. You, the Process Engineer, should recognize that client
preferences, site-specific concerns and other matters pertaining to a given project also
influence the selection of process equipment. These will vary in nature and importance
depending upon the project, but still must be considered.
Before concluding our discussion, we want to give you some idea of the variety of
applications of fired heaters in the process industry along with typical operating
temperatures. These are presented in Table 1-1.

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Table 1-1
TYPICAL FIRED HEATER APPLICATIONS
Typical Process Outlet
Temperature, o F (oC)

Service

1.3

Tower Feed Preheater

400 - 750

(204 - 399)

Reboiler

350 - 650

(177 - 343)

Thermal Cracker

850 - 1,000

(454 - 538)

Visbreaker (Soaker)

900

(482)

Thermal Naphtha Reformer (Soaker)

1,000 - 1,025

(538 - 554)

Cat Reformer

900 - 1,050

(482 - 566)

Hydrogenation Preheater

400 - 700

(204 - 371)

Hydrocracking

700 - 850

(371 - 454)

Steam Cracking (Ethylene)

1,500 +

(815 + )

Dealkylation (Thermal)

1,400 +

(760 + )

Waste Incinerator

2,500 - 3,500

(1,371 - 1,927)

Heating Oil Circulating System

300 - 700

(149 - 371)

Steam-Methane Reformer

1,450 - 1,500 +

(788 - 815 +)

SPECIFICATION SHEETS
The Process Engineer is responsible for completing all necessary process calculations
prior to initiating the fired heater specification sheets. The Process Engineer and
Mechanical Engineer are jointly responsible for completing the fired heater specification
sheets, such as forms E-0522A-I, the Steam-HC Reformer Specification Sheets, and
forms E-553A-H, the Fired Heater Specification Sheets. This section contains completed
examples of these specification sheets and the calculations pertaining to each.
The following FDI specification forms for fired heaters are routinely used:
Description

Form

Incinerator
Steam-HC Reformer
Fired Heater

E-460A-F
E-522A-I
E-553A-H

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1.4

DATA SOURCES
The Process Engineer should complete the following items before starting fired heater
calculations:
Process Flow Diagram
Heat and Material Balance
Pressure-Temperature-Metallurgical Survey
General specifications for fired heaters are written by the Mechanical Engineers. A copy
should be obtained as soon as it is available. In some cases the client's specifications
are used. These should be read prior to starting calculations, otherwise you may have to
start over. Process guidelines may be issued in the form of job bulletins or they may
have been developed in book form. Other books such as Process Design Guidelines for
Gas Plants, Design Manuals, etc. should be read when applicable.
A preliminary plot plan is usually available in the early stages of a job.
available, you can make your own sketches and refer to previous similar
case, you must update your pressure and temperature survey and
calculations as information is developed or received throughout the job. It
necessary to revise the fired heater specification.

If one is not
jobs. In any
revise your
may become

Physical properties may be obtained from computer runs, Vol. II General Data, or other
sources. Your lead engineer should give you some guidelines in order to maintain
uniformity on the job. In addition, refer to Section III, References for Physical Properties.
1.5

TERMS AND DEFINITIONS


Air Heater,
Air Preheater

Heat transfer apparatus through which combustion air is


passed and heated by medium of higher temperature, steam
or other fluid (such as the products of combustion).

Arch

The flat of sloped portion of the heater radiant section


opposite the floor.

Atomizer

A device to reduce a liquid fuel to a fine spray. Atomization


means are normally either steam, air or mechanical.

Anchor

Sometimes called tieback; a metallic or refractory device


which retains the refractory or insulation in place.

Balanced
Draft Heater

A heater in which the combustion air is supplied by a fan and


the flue gases are removed by a fan.

Breeching

Enclosure which collects the flue gases after the last


convection coil for transmission to the stack or the outlet
ductwork.

Bridgewall

Sometimes called Divisional Wall; a refractory wall separating


two adjacent heater zones.

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Bridgewall
Temperature

The flue gas temperature leaving the radiant section.

Burner

A device for the introduction of fuel and air into a heater at


the desired velocities, turbulence and concentration to
establish and maintain proper ignition and combustion.
Burners are classified by the types of fuel fired, such as; oil,
gas and combination gas and oil.

Casing

A metal plate covering used to enclose a fired heater.

Coking
Allowance

A thickness which increases pressure drop due to a build-up


of deposit on the inner surface of a coil expressed in
millimeters. This value shall be used in calculating the fouled
pressure drop.

Convection
Section

The portion of the heater in which the heat is transferred to


the tubes primarily by convection.

Corbel

A projection from the refractory surface generally used to


prevent flue gas bypassing in the convection section.

Corrosion
Allowance

Corrosion rate times tube design life, expressed in


millimeters.

Crossover

The interconnecting piping between any two heater coil


sections.

Damper

A device for controlling the heater draft by regulating the


volumetric flow of gas or air.

Draft

The negative pressure of the flue gas measured at any point


in the heater, expressed in millimeters of water.

Duct

A conduit for air or flue gas flow.

Efficiency,
Fuel

Heat absorbed divided by the net heat of combustion of the


fuel as heat input, expressed as a percentage.

Efficiency,
Thermal

Heat absorbed divided by total input to the heater system,


expressed as a percentage.

Excess Air

The amount of air above the stoichiometric requirement for


complete combustion, expressed as a percentage.

Explosion Door

A door in a heater setting designed to be opened by a


predetermined gas pressure.

Extended Surface

Refers to the heat transfer surface in the form of fins or studs


added to the bore tubes.

Flux
Density
(Average)

The total heat absorbed divided by the total exposed heating


surface of the coil.

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Flux
Density
(Maximum)

The maximum local heat transfer rate in the coil section.

Forced
Draft
Heater

A heater in which the combustion air is supplied by a fan.

Fouling
Resistance

Resistance to heat transfer caused by a build-up of residue


on the inner surface of the coil.

Header

Sometimes called return bend, common reference for a 180


degree cast or wrought fitting, which connects two or more
tubes.

Header Box

Internally insulated structural compartment, separated from


the flue gas stream, which is used to enclose a multiplicity of
headers.

Heat
Absorption

The total heat absorbed by the coil(s) excluding any


combustion air preheat.

Heat Release

The total heat liberated from the specified fuel, using the
lower heating value of the fuel.

Heating Value,
Higher (HHV)

The total heat obtained from the combustion of a specified


fuel at 15 oC (59 oF).

Heating Value,
Lower (LHV)

The higher heating value minus the latent heat of


vaporization of the water formed by combustion of hydrogen
in the fuel; also called the net heating value.

Induced Draft
Heater

A heater in which a fan is used to remove flue gases.

Natural Draft
Heater

A heater in which a stack effect induces the combustion air


and removes the flue gases.

Pilot

A small burner which provides ignition energy to light the


main burner.

Plenum

Sometimes called "windbox" is a chamber surrounding the


burners which is used to distribute air to the burners or to
reduce combustion noise.

Plug Type Header

A return bend, normally cast, which is provided with one or


more openings to enable inspection, mechanical tube
cleaning or draining.

Primary Air

The portion of the total combustion air which first mixes with
the fuel.

Radiant Section

The portion of the heater in which the heat is transferred to


the tubes primarily by radiation.

Secondary Air

Air supplied to the fuel to supplement primary air.

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Shield Section

Section containing those tubes which shield the convection


section tubes from direct radiation.

Sootblower

A mechanical device for discharging steam or air to clean


heat absorbing surfaces.

Stack

A vertical conduit, to discharge flue gas to the atmosphere.

Strakes

Sometimes called spoilers, they are metal attachments to the


outside of the stack that reduce wind-induced vibration.

Tube Guide

A device used with floor supported vertical tubes to prevent


tubes from buckling, and with top supported vertical tubes to
restrict movement.

Tube Pass

As material enters the heater, its total flow is divided among


several groups of tubes. Each of these groups is called a
tube pass.

Volumetric Heat
Release

The heat released divided by the net volume of the radiant


section which excludes the volume of the coils and refractory
dividing walls.

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2.0

PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA


2.1

GENERAL
Before discussing the examples presented in this section, we want to give you some
process design guidelines for fired heaters. Unless otherwise noted, what we present
here will apply to process heaters in general. Details that are specific to a particular type
of fired heaters are discussed either in the corresponding example (presented later in this
section) or in the appropriate FDI design manual or other reference. You should refer to
these as needed.
Our discussion here will provide you with some of the fundamental means needed for
calculating and specifying process heaters. You should note that the numerical values of
certain parameters given in our discussion, e.g., furnace efficiencies and radiant heat
fluxes, are based on experience and "generally accepted practice" in the process
industry. As such, they should not be construed as "hard and fast" rules but rather as
guidelines. With this in mind, let's now proceed with our discussion.

2.2

RADIANT HEAT FLUX AND RADIANT EFFICIENCY


You, the Process Engineer, or the Mechanical Engineer, must specify the allowable
radiant heat flux for a process heater. Note that as heat flux increases, the tube life
decreases but so does the initial cost of the heater. You must, therefore, choose a value
that strikes a compromise between these factors. Sometimes, the client prefers to
specify the radiant heat flux. If, however, the decision is left to you, refer to Table 2-1 for
some typical average radiant flux for various types of heaters. You should also consult
with a heater specialist in the Mechanical Engineering Department. (Values of tubeside
pressure drop and mass velocity are also given in Table 2-1).
You must also specify the absorbed duty for a fired heater. This is the duty required to
carry out the desired physical or chemical change in the process fluid. The furnace
vendor, in turn, calculates the fired duty of the heater, i.e. the heat that must be supplied
by the burners in order to transfer the absorbed duty. In most cases, the heat absorbed
in the radiant section ranges from about 45 % to 55 % of the net heat input when
operating with 20 to 30 percent excess air. High flux heaters and "all radiant' types
(without a convection section) tend toward the low end of the efficiency range. Heaters
for services with low process temperatures and low heat fluxes have radiant efficiencies
in the upper end of the range.
For a reasonable estimate of heater performance, you can assume that 50 % of the net
heat release is absorbed in the radiant section. How much of the remaining heat can be
absorbed from the flue gas is discussed in Section 2.4 of these design criteria.

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Table 2-1
TYPICAL AVERAGE DESIGN PARAMETERS FOR VARIOUS HEATERS
Average Radiant
Flux (2)(3)

Minimum Coil
Pressure Drop

Mass
Velocity

Btu/hr ft2

psi

lb/ft2 sec

Single
Fired

Double
Fired

Single
Fired

Double
Fired

H2 Reformers (1)

14,000

20,000

20

25

150

Naphtha/Kerosene
Light Gas Oil

12,000

15,000

25

30

175

Heavy Gas Oil

10,000

12,500

30

35

200

Crude

10,000

12,500

100

150

225

Atmos./Vacuum Resid

9,000

11,000

100

150

250

kg/m2 sec

MPa

kW/m
H2 Reformers (1)

44.2

63.1

0.138

0.172

732

Naphtha/Kerosene
Light Gas Oil

37.9

47.3

0.172

0.207

854

Heavy Gas Oil

31.5

39.4

0.207

0.241

976

Crude

31.5

39.4

0.689

1.034

1,098

Atmos./Vacuum Resid

28.4

34.7

0.689

1.034

1,220

Notes:
(1)

I.D. Basis

(2)

The maximum average heat flux to any tube in the convection section, based on bare outside
diameter surface, shall not exceed the maximum average flux allowable in the radiant section.
Steam generation coils may have up to 40,000 Btu/hr ft2 (126.2 kW/m2) maximum average flux.
Source: Fluor Daniel Process Design Criteria Manual.

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PROCESS MANUAL

Table 2-2
HEATER SELECTION GUIDE (1)
Service

Horizontal
Individual
Pass
Control

Vertical

Multi
Pass
Control

Individual
Pass
Control

Helical

Multi
Pass
Control

Noncoking
Below 30 MM Btu/hr (8.8 MW)

Single Phase
Vaporizing (below 600 oF) (316 oC)
o

Hydrotreater (below 600 F)


(316 oC)

Hydrogen Reformer

Hydrogen

Coking
Single Phase

Vaporizing

Hydrotreater (2)

Coker

Visbreaker

Crude/Vacuum

Notes:
(1)

If required to meet low pressure drop requirements, heaters handling 100 % vapor at inlet and
outlet conditions may be designed with arbor type coils.

(2)

H2 added to feed oil.

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PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

FURNACE HEAT LOSSES AND MECHANICAL DRAFT OPERATION


The principle heat loss from a fired heater is the heat carried off by the flue gas leaving
the stack. The principle methods for improving heater efficiency, therefore, are reduction
of the flue gas volume and reduction of stack temperature. For a given fired duty, the
amount of fuel and the amount of air theoretically required for complete combustion are
fixed. The only way we can reduce flue gas volume, then, is through reduction in the
amount of excess air supplied to the burners. But, excess air is required for complete
combustion of the fuel and stable burner operation. Furthermore, on a weight basis, flue
gas must escape from the furnace stack at the same rate that air and fuel are supplied to
the burners. In the case of a natural draft heater, the flue gas must be hot enough, i.e.,
have sufficient buoyancy, to do this. So, to lower both the amount of excess air and the
flue gas temperature, furnace designers have turned to mechanical draft fired heaters.
Mechanical draft typically enables heaters to operate in the upper end of the radiant
efficiency range given in Section 2.2 of this discussion. Such heaters employ an induced
draft fan to pull flue gas out of the stack. Since much of the energy required for escape
is supplied by the fan, the flue gas can leave the radiant section at a lower temperature
than in a natural draft furnace. A forced draft fan is used on the inlet side to push
ambient air into the furnace combustion chambers. Modern mechanical draft furnaces
can operate at 10 % excess air when fired with natural gas and 10-20 % excess air when
fired with clean liquid fuels. Despite the benefits of mechanical draft operation,
considerable heat can still be lost from the stack. To further improve furnace efficiency,
stack gas heat recovery is necessary. We discuss this in Section 2.4, the next part of
these design criteria.
Before we move on, however, let's look at two more sources of heat loss from process
furnaces. First, heat is transmitted from heater surfaces to the outside air by radiation
and convection. Losses of 1 to 1 1/2 percent of the fired duty for natural draft furnaces
are normal. For mechanical draft furnaces having an air preheater, losses of 2 to 2 1/2
percent of the fired duty can be expected. Air preheaters require extensive runs of hot
air (Air preheat is discussed further in Section 2.4.) In general, heat losses should not
exceed 3 % of the fired duty and the maximum metal casing temperature should not
exceed 180 oF (82 oC) at ambient temperature of 80 oF (27 oC) in still air. Second, the
furnace combustion chamber and convection section operate under slightly negative
pressure. If leaks are allowed to develop, quantities of excess air greater than what is
required for complete fuel combustion will be pulled into the furnace. This results in
additional heat loss from the flue stack. Losses due to leaks, however, generally result
from poor plant maintenance rather than design. In order to competently specify a
process heater, you must be aware of all of the heat losses discussed here. The furnace
vendor must take these into account in the mechanical design of a heater.

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CONVECTION HEAT RECOVERY


By using stack gas heat recovery you can, in general, design fired heaters for overall
thermal efficiencies of from 83-91 %. This is considerable since the highest radiant
efficiency for a process heater is about 55 %. It should come as no surprise then, that
convection section heat recovery is an integral part of specifying and designing fired
heaters.
In specifying a flue gas hat recovery system, you must first calculate the amount of heat
available for recovery. This can be related to the furnace radiant duty as follows:
Overall Thermal Efficiency

Convection Duty = (Radiant Duty)


1.0
Radiant Efficiency

You can obtain the radiant duty from the process heat and material balance if the
process fluid only goes through the radiant section. Otherwise you will have to split the
process duty between the radiant and convection sections.
In the early stages of a job, vendor data for your particular heater will not be available, so
you will have to estimate the radiant and overall efficiencies. And, as we mentioned
above, you may also have to estimate the split in process duty between the radiant and
convection sections. For guidance, you should refer to the design data for similar
heaters on past jobs and to the appropriate FDI design manual. Also, you should consult
with a heater specialist to the Mechanical Engineering Department.
Instead of using the above equation, you can calculate the amount of flue gas heat
available for recovery using a computer program (consult with a computer specialist).
The output for this program should include temperature-enthalpy data for the stack gas.
Using this data, you can plot a cooling curve and find the amount of available heat. Use
of this method is discussed in detail in Section 5.2 of this manual, Reformer Calculations.
Even though the example presented there is a steam-hydrocarbon reformer, the
discussion of the Furnace Calculation Program applies to fired heaters in general. You
should refer to that part of our discussion for further information.
The second major step in specifying convection section heat recovery is to decide what
to do with the available heat. There are three options generally available. First, you can
heat the process fluid before it goes to the radiant section. This reduces the furnace
radiant duty and size and thus can significantly reduce the initial cost of the heater.
Second, you can use the stack gases to generate steam in either a waste heat boiler or
in steam coils fitted into the flue stack. This is often the preferred choice if the steam can
be used in the plant. Third, you can preheat the incoming combustion air. This is often
done as it does the most to improve furnace efficiency. We should point out that the use
of air preheat requires mechanical draft operation. The relatively high friction losses in
the air preheater and associated duct work make natural draft operation infeasible.

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The expected overall thermal efficiencies for mechanical draft fired heaters range up to
91 % with air preheat and up to 89 % using only a waste heat boiler. For natural draft
heaters, the maximum expected efficiencies range from 84 to 88 %. Most convection
heat recovery schemes usually employ air preheat and one of the other two types of
recovery we have discussed. We will now present a few examples of such schemes
along with some further discussion.
Figure 2-1 shows a typical fired reboiler flow scheme. Material from the column sump is
first heated in the convection section and then in the radiant section. Heating the
process fluid in the convection section reduces the radiant duty and overall size of the
furnace. An induced draft fan pulls flue gas out of the stack and through the air
preheater, while the combustion air is pressured through the air preheater by a forced
draft fan. Here the flue gas heats the incoming combustion air on its way to the
burners.With air preheat included, overall thermal efficiencies as high as 91 % can be
achieved. See the article entitled Fired Heaters - IV ... located at the end of this manual
for a discussion on the types of air preheaters available.
Figure 2-2 shows another typical convection heat recovery scheme for a fired heater.
For heaters with fired duties on the order of one to several hundred million Btu per hour,
and with radiant efficiencies of around 50 %, there is considerable heat that can be
recovered from the flue gas. Generally, the convection heat recovery schemes for such
heaters are an integral part of the plant steam balance. For the case shown in Figure
2-2, we are preheating the feed and generating steam in the convection section. The
steam drum operates at saturated conditions. It is really a surge drum for both water and
heat. Use of it allows better control of steam generation and superheating in the
convection coils. Without the upper three "economizer" coils, this type of heater would
have an overall thermal efficiency of about 58 %. With them, its overall efficiency is
around 85 %.
Before concluding our remarks here, we should tell you about the limitations in flue gas
heat recovery. First, the maximum average heat flux rate to any tube in the convection
section, based on bare outside diameter surface, shall not exceed the maximum average
flux rate allowable in the radiant section. Steam generation coils, however, may have up
to a 40,000 Btu/hr ft2 (126.2 kW/m2) maximum average flux rate. Second, for steam
generation coils, the limiting approach temperature is 50 oF (28 oC). The controlling
resistance to heat transfer is obviously on the flue gas side of the coil. The film
coefficients on this side are on the order of 0.2-20 Btu/hr ft2 oF (1.14-114 W/m2 oC) versus
1,000 - 3,000 Btu/hr ft2 oF (5,680-17,030 W/m2 oC) on the vaporizing side. Extended heat
transfer surface, e.g., fin tubes, and relatively high approach temperatures are used to
compensate for this. Experience has shown that for stable operation, 50 oF (28 oC)
should be the lowest approach temperature for this service. Third, the amount of heat
that you can ultimately extract from the flue gas is often limited by the SO3 content of the
gas. Sulfur in furnace fuels partially ends up as SO3 in the stack gas. If the stack
temperature gets low enough, this will combine with condensing moisture to produce
sulfuric acid. The obvious result is severe corrosion problems in the convection section.
The acid dew point in flue gases is normally in the range of 300-350 oF (149 -177 oC).
We will say more about this in Section 2.6 of this section dealing with combustion.

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Figure 2-1
TYPICAL FIRED REBOILER FLOW SCHEME WITH AIR PREHEAT

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Figure 2-2
FIRED HEATER WITH STEAM GENERATION
FOR WASTE HEAT RECOVERY

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2.5

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

IMPORTANT PROPERTIES OF FUELS


The type, composition and heating value of the fuel used obviously determines both the
design and operation of the furnace burners. At the same time, some of these fuel
properties determine the type and amount of pollutants emitted from the stack as well as
the corrosion and fouling tendencies in the convection section. The important fuel
properties that you need to be aware of are listed and discussed below.
2.5.1

Fuel Heating Values (Heats of Combustion)


a.

Gaseous Fuels
Pure component heats of combustion (Btu/SCF or kJ/Nm3) for organic
gases are given in such references as Perry's Chemical Engineers
Handbook and the GPSA Engineering Data Book. If the fuel gas has
two or more components, you should calculate a more average heating
value. To do this, multiply the mole fraction of each component times its
respective heating value and take the sum. The lower heating value
(LHV) is used in these calculations.
Often, the principle furnace fuel is a refinery or plant fuel gas. Such fuel
gas is usually a mixture of by-product and waste gases from various
units at the site. Its composition can change considerably as the various
contributing units are taken on or off line or operated at varying rates.
For such fuels, you should determine the range of compositions the gas
could logically have and calculate the LHV and HHV (higher heating
value) for each of these compositions. Alternately, you could estimate
the heating values according to the following equations:
HHV
LHV

=
=

215 + 51.7 M
155 + 49.1 M

Gas Molecular Weight

where:
M

You should note that the LHV equation also correlates saturated
hydrocarbons with hydrogen to within 35 Btu/SCF (1,380 kJ/Nm3) up to
44 molecular weight. Based on the results of these calculations, you
need to report the range of heating values, compositions and molecular
weights for the fuel gas.

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b.

Liquid Fuels
A chart for determining the net and gross heats of combustion of fuel oils
and petroleum fractions is given in Figure 2-3. Alternately, you can
estimate the heating values of liquid fuels using the following equations:
HHV (Btu/lb)
LHV (Btu/lb)

= 323.5 (wt % H2) - 115 (wt % S) + 15,410


= HHV - 94 (wt % H2)

(Note: To obtain kJ/kg values multiply Btu/lb values by 2.326)


c.

Solid Fuels
For combustion data on coal, you should refer to Perry's Chemical
Engineers Handbook. The data contained in Perry's is limited; however,
methods for estimating coal heating values are given. Also, there are
various references in the Fluor-Houston Library that contain data on
coal. But, the best approach is to obtain combustion data on the specific
coal to be used on the project in question.

2.5.2

Vanadium Content (Liquid Fuels)


During combustion, the vanadium in fuel oil forms oxides. The resulting
vanadium slag is extremely corrosive to metal if allowed to deposit. Above
1,250 oF (677 oC), the slag will erode metal surfaces.

2.5.3

Chloride, Fluoride and Sodium Content (Liquid Fuels)


During combustion, these elements form oxides and complex salts. Like
vanadium compounds, these are extremely corrosive toward metal if allowed to
deposit. Also, they will erode metal surfaces at temperatures above 1,250 oF
(677 oC). In addition, sodium compounds often attack refractory materials.

2.5.4

Sulfur Content
As mentioned earlier, the sulfur in fuel burns to SO2 and SO3. The SO2, of
course, is an air pollutant regulated by the Federal EPA. The SO3 combines with
any condensing moisture in the stack gas to make highly corrosive H2SO4. We
will say more about this in the next part of our discussion, Section 2.6 dealing
with combustion.

2.5.5

Other Considerations
a.

Heat Release
Heat release for process heaters shall be based on the LHV (lower
heating value) of the fuel. Fuel oil and/or gas composition analysis shall
be supplied with the heater specification. Vanadium, sodium and sulfur
should be included in the fuel analysis.

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Figure 2-3

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b.

Fuel Gas
Fuel gas should normally be supplied upstream of the fuel control valve
at 35 psig (0.241 MPag), and at 20 psig (0.138 MPag) to the burner.
Provisions must be made to ensure that no condensation occurs in the
fuel lines. Together, these measures will allow adequate flow control of
the furnace fuel gas.
Consult with the heater representative of
Mechanical Engineering regarding burning of low pressure or low heating
valve gases.

c.

Fuel Oil
To ensure stable and complete combustion, fuel oil must be atomized at
the burners. This can be done by using either mechanically atomized
burners or steam atomized burners. Mechanically atomized burners
require fuel oil supplied at 500 psig (3.447 MPag). The high pressure oil
forces its way into the combustion chamber through tiny openings in the
burner nozzle. In the process, it disperses into a mist of tiny droplets. In
steam atomizing burners, on the other hand, steam is injected into the
fuel oil are a ratio of 0.5 lb (kg) steam to 1.0 pound (kg) of oil. The oil is
normally supplied at 150 psig (1.034 MPag). The steam should be at
least 30 psi (0.207 MPa) above the fuel oil pressure and should have at
least 50 oF (28 oC) superheat.
Note that heavy fuel oil systems should be recirculating loop type. One
barrel of oil should be circulated through the system for each barrel
consumed at the design heat release of the burners. Light fuel oil
systems, on the other hand, may be dead end types. Regardless of
configuration, the system should deliver fuel oil to the burners at a
viscosity of 30 centistokes.

d.

Pilot Burners
Pilot burners are supplied as an integral part of the main burner. They
are most often installed where it is desired to simplify burner ignition
procedures (particularly with oil firing), where an extreme turndown to a
fixed, minimum load is required, where intermittent on-off operation is
required or where extreme modulation of firing rate is needed.
The primary disadvantage of pilot burners is that they constitute a
potential source of gas leakage into the firebox. The possibility always
exists of a pilot being accidentally extinguished, permitting gas to be
admitted to the heater during a shutdown. Also, because of their small
port drillings, pilot burners clog easily and should be routinely inspected
and cleaned.
Pilot burners are almost always gas-fired and are usually fueled from an
independent source such as a propane or LPG drum or a natural gas
leader which is not part of the regular refinery fuel gas system. If the
pilots are fueled from the main burner supply line, the gas offtake to the

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piles must be upstream of the control and block valves for the main
burner supply.
A typical heat release from a pilot is 50,000 to 100,000 Btu/hr
(15 to 30 kW).
e.

Soot Blowers
Soot removal is often required on heaters fired with fuel oil. It is not
needed if the heater is only fired with fuel gas. The main cause of
outside tube deposits is high vanadium, sulfur, sodium and ash content
in the fuel oil. They must be provided on heaters with convection tubes
and primary fuel oil firing if fuel contains:
1.
2.
3.
4.

More than 50 ppm vanadium


More than 3 % sulfur
More than 25 ppm sodium
High ash content

Ash deposits in the radiant sections of the heater can be expected to be


fluid or semi-molten, and are therefore fairly good conductors of heat.
Because of the obvious cleaning problem encountered at these higher
temperatures and the fact that little heat transfer is lost, attempts are not
normally made to keep these areas clean, although blowers are available
for cleaning furnace walls. Use of cleaning equipment is usually
confined to the convection section.
If extended surface tubes are used in the convection section with oil
firing, the extended surface should consist of studs or thick fins rather
than conventional fins.
Soot blowers clean the outside of tubes by blasting them with high
velocity steam or air. Steam is usually used in process heaters. Soot
blowing equipment is available in two basic designs: (1) rotating-element
type and (2) retractable-lance type.
The rotating type consists of a pipe, several nozzles in the pipe, a
mechanical drive assembly, an automatic valve and controls. The pipe
remains inside the heater and thus is subjected to the high temperature
and corrosive conditions. This type is less effective in removing deposits
because the steam supply is distributed among several small nozzles
and each stream is relatively small.
A more effective device is the retractable-lance type. This type remains
retracted from the heater when not in use. When used, it is moved into
the heater by a drive motor and simultaneously rotated. Steam flows
through only two nozzles, which gives the jets greater energy and
cleaning range. This type is exposed to the heater conditions only during
the cleaning cycle when steam flowing through the tube keeps the tube

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cool. The rate of travel is about 6 ft/min (1.83 m/min) and rotation about
once per inch of travel length. This type may also be used in a vertical
position if clearance is a problem. Maximum travel length is about
40 feet (12.2 m).
Steam is usually 150 to 200 psig (1.034 to 1.379 MPag) but 400 to 600
psig (2.758 to 4.137 MPag) is more effective and should be considered if
it is available. Steam consumption of the lance type is about 8,000 to
12,000 lbs/hr (3,630 to 5,440 kg/hr) per blower. The blower operates
about 2.5 minutes once each eight hours. The nonretractable type uses
about 10,000 to 14,000 lbs/hr (4,540-6,350 kg/hr) for about 40 seconds.
Total steam consumption is about the same for the two types.
Controls may be provided to operate the blowers on a predetermined
cycle. Otherwise, an increase in stack temperature or fuel flow can be
used to indicate that blowing is needed.
Soot blowing may all 10 % to the cost of a heater installation. If there is
uncertainty about the need for soot blowers, provision may be made for
future installation by allowing space between tube banks and access
doors in heater walls.
Drive motors for soot blowers can be either electric or air, although
electric drive is most common.
2.6

COMBUSTION CALCULATIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS


Based on your specifications, the furnace vendor will decide how much excess air the
heater needs, do a combustion heat and material balance and calculate the flue gas
composition. You may have to perform these calculations yourself early in the job to
determine the amount of recoverable heat in the stack gas. As we mentioned earlier,
you can do this by hand or by computer. Whichever way you go about this, you need to
have an understanding of the principles of combustion stoichiometry. To illustrate these
principles, we have included an example calculation in Section 2.12.1. The textbook
entitled, Steam, Its Generation and Use, by Babcock & Wilcox is also useful reference.
Another consideration is the generation of SO2, SO3 and NOx in the combustion process.
Sulfur in fuel burns to SO2 and traces of SO3 during theoretical combustion. The
presence of excess air greatly enhances the production of SO3. At present, there is a
federal regulation on the sulfur contents of fuel for new or modified refinery heaters. This
regulation does not apply to process heaters in other types of industrial plants. There are
no other federal regulations governing emissions from process heaters, but many states
have set regulations. Texas, for instance, limits sulfur dioxide emissions from process
heaters to 440 ppm in the stack gas. Sulfur trioxide, on the other hand, poses more of a
corrosion problem than an environmental one. SO3 combines with water vapor in the
stack gas to form H2SO4. If the stack gas cools below its acid dew point - as it could in
the convection heat recovery section - then aqueous H2SO4 condenses on the stack
internals. You should always determine the lower temperature limit for heat recovery in

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the convection section. Figure 2-4 will enable you to do this once you know the SO3
content of the flue gas.
How does one determine the SO3 content of the furnace stack gas? To answer this, let's
look at an example calculation. Consider a furnace fuel oil of the composition given in
the example calculations in Section 2.12.2. First, we must calculate the number of moles
of each fuel component in some given amount of fuel. here we chose 100 lb of fuel as
our basis. Now, most of the sulfur in the fuel will form SO2 in the flue gas and some will
form SO3. In practice, the maximum SO3 level in furnace flue gases is found to be 5 % of
the SO2 concentration. This is higher than that predicted by equilibrium considerations,
but closely agrees with actual measurements. Using this along with the total moles of
sulfur in our 100 lb (basis) sample, we can calculate the relative number of moles of SO2
and SO3 in the flue gas. From here the stoichiometry calculations required to find the
complete stack gas composition and the subsequent use of Figure 2-4 are rather
straightforward. Therefore, we leave it to you to follow our example calculations at the
end of this subsection on your own. Before we move on, however, we should mention
one more thing. Once you have found the acid gas dew point for a particular heater, you
should add a safety factor to that temperature. In the absence of client specifications or
other guidelines, the lower flue gas temperature limit should 50 oF (28 oC) above the acid
dew point. This will cover operating conditions different from design. Watch out for
turndown operations. You may have to provide bypasses for the process fluid controlled
according to the stack temperature. We will say more about turndown in Section 2.8.
Nitrogen oxides are a by-product from most combustion operations. They form by
thermal fixation of molecular nitrogen in the combustion air. NOx also forms from
nitrogen compounds in the fuel. The Federal EPA regulations, made effective in
December 1971, impose a national limit on NOx emissions from new boilers of over
250 MM Btu/hr (73.3 MW) heat release. Various states and municipalities have also
passed laws limiting the emission of NOx from combustion units. Reference tot he legal
restrictions of various locations is required to determine limits imposed on process fired
heaters. Consult with an environmental engineer.
Tests show that certain restrictions can be met on fired heaters without modification or
special designs because of their smaller size and design characteristics. Relatively low
flame burst temperature due to low heat flux and distributed of burner arrangement is
credited. However, problems may arise with large forced draft burners and from fuel
nitrogen content greater than 0.3 % wt. Your responsibility is to inform the vendor of NOx
regulation requirements so he can design for them.
2.7

INSTRUMENTS AND SAFETY DEVICES


In specifying a process heater, you should have a basic understanding of how to safely
control it. Our purpose here is to familiarize you with the fundamental control variables,
instruments, and safety devices common to almost all fired heaters. You should
recognize that for any specific heater the control scheme will probably be considerably
more complicated than we show here.

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Figure 2-4

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2.7.1

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Primary Control Variables


a.

Process Flow Rate


Low process flow causes overheating and coking in the tubes. Coking in
turn causes higher pressure drop and more overheating. The end result
is lower tube and refractory life. Most heaters shut down automatically
for low process flow in any one tube pass. (As material enters the
heaters, its total flow is divided among several groups of tubes. Each of
these groups is called a tube pass.)

b.

Firing Rate
The firing rate is usually controlled by adjusting the fuel flow according to
the heater process outlet temperature. This is depicted in Figure 2-5.
Note, however, that vaporizing streams may have little outlet
temperature variation with heat input. In that case, another control
variable must be chosen. Most heaters shut down automatically for low
fuel pressure or flow.

c.

Air Supply
This is normally controlled by adjustable dampers either in the flue stack
or inlet air duct. Manual control is common for natural draft heaters, but
automation will improve the thermal efficiency of the heater.
If forced or induced draft fans are used, the air flow can be controlled
either by fan plenum dampers or fan (driver) speed control. (The plenum
is a chamber surrounding the burners. It is used to distribute air to the
burners and reduce combustion noise.) The air flow control is usually
set automatically according to the fuel flow rate as shown in Figure 2-6.
In this way a constant air to fuel ratio can be maintained.
At this point we should mention that the control scheme shown in
Figure 2-6 is for heaters fired with fuels of fixed composition. Often, the
principle furnace fuel is a refinery or plant fuel gas. As we mentioned
earlier, the composition of such gas can vary considerably. This requires
a more complicated control scheme than the one we have shown here.
Such a scheme might include an automatic chromatograph to monitor
fuel gas composition. This information, along with heater process outlet
temperature, can be fed to a process control computer. The computer
then can be programmed to calculate the required fuel and air flowrates
and reset the respective flow controllers. The exact control requirements
for any given heater will vary depending on the service it is in, the
magnitude of changes in fuel gas composition, etc. You should consult
your Lead Engineer and the Control System Engineer assigned to
process heaters for help in setting up such a control scheme.

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Figure 2-5
TYPICAL CONTROL SYSTEM FOR A NATURAL (DRAFT) HEATER

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Figure 2-6
TYPICAL HEATER CONTROL SCHEME WITH FORCED (DRAFT)

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2.7.2

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Secondary Instrumentation
a.

Individual Outlet Temperature Indicators for Each Tube Pass


The furnace operators use these as guides to adjust the flows through
the tube passes. They should be located very close to where the passes
leave the firebox (combustion chamber).

b.

Firebox Temperature Indicators


These allow the operators to balance the firing between the various
burners in the firebox and to monitor the refractory temperature levels.
Under normal conditions, the readings from the various indicators should
not differ by more than 100 oF (55 oC).

c.

Flue Gas Temperature Indicators at the Bridgewall and in the Stack


The bridgewall, sometimes called the division wall, is a refractory wall
separating two adjacent heater zones. The bridgewall temperature is the
temperature of the flue gas leaving the radiant zone. Temperature
indicators mounted here and in the flue stack provide an indication of
stack temperature, furnace operating efficiency, overfiring, tube fouling
and tube rupture.

d.

Tubeskin Thermocouples
These warn of excessive temperatures where metal strength might be
dangerously reduced. Using the reading from them, operators can
estimate tube life. And these thermocouples provide yet another way of
monitoring the firing of the furnace.

e.

Draft Gauges
These are usually inclined manometers. They provide air and flue gas
pressure drop and flow data. They are used when adjusting burners and
to indicate limiting operating conditions.

f.

Individual Control
Combination heaters handling multiple services are acceptable providing
the overall heater design permits individual control of each service
without affecting other process services.

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2.7.3

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Safety Shutdowns and Alarms


An instrument controlling an important variable, such as fuel or process flowrate,
sounds an alarm when that variable starts getting out of its respective control
range. If the variable gets far enough away from its setpoint, then the instrument
often can automatically shut down the furnace. The primary shutdowns include
low process flow and low fuel flow or pressure. Others that are sometimes
included, but usually as alarms only, are high process flow, high process
temperature, high stack temperature, flame failure, high tube skin temperature
and low draft pressure.
Each installation must be studied to determine which failure can lead to trouble.
The protective control system should be designed so that it cannot in itself lead
to an unsafe condition and that it will not make start-up difficult or lead to
unnecessary shutdowns. The greatest danger is from a fuel system that may fail
long enough for the flame to extinguish and then reintroduce fuel while the
refractory is hot enough to ignite the fuel.
Since automatic shutdown devices can be a hindrance during start-up, it is
recommended that they only be used where abnormal conditions could cause a
dangerous situation before corrective action could be taken. Also, if shutdown
initiating devices must be bypassed to start a unit, visual indication in the central
control room must be provided.

2.7.4

Safety Devices
a.

Purging and Snuffing Steam


Upon shutdown of a heater for any reason, steam should be directed into
the firebox and header box (an internally insulated compartment,
separated from the flue gas stream, which is used to enclose a
multiplicity of headers or manifolds). The steam serves two purposes.
First, it snuffs out the burner flames and second, it inerts the atmosphere
in the firebox and in the header box. This prevents ignition of residual
fuel or process material that may leak from damaged tubes. Automatic
systems are sometimes provided; however, most systems are manual.
Steam connections should be distributed throughout the combustion
chamber. Together, these connections should be of sufficient size and
quantity to deliver within 15 minutes, a volume of steam at atmospheric
pressure equal to three times that of the combustion chamber. The
steam supply should have a pressure of at least 50 psig (0.345 MPag).
Higher pressure steam, however, results in smaller lateral sizes. A
minimum of two 1" connections made of 18-8 Cr-Ni are usually installed
at opposite ends of each radiant chamber. Connections should also be
provided on the convection header boxes. The snuffing steam system
shall have a valved manifold located at a safe distance (typically 50 feet)
(15.2 m) from the furnace for providing snuffing steam to the various
furnace sections.

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b.

Peep Doors
These allow operators to see the internals of the radiant section. They
can thus visually check for tube or burner damage or monitor the tubes
during decoking.

2.8

OFF DESIGN CONDITIONS


2.8.1

Turndown Operation
Often, plant personnel will operate a fired heater at lower than design throughput.
This is called turndown operation. If you are aware of special turndown
conditions at which the client wishes to be able to operate, you should indicate
this under "Remarks" on the specification data sheets. The vendor will take this
into account in the mechanical design of the heater. Generally, the minimum
operating range of the burners is 25-35 % of the normal design duty.
Satisfactory turndown operation may require special instrumentation or one or
more auxiliary burners. To illustrate why, let's look at an example.
Consider the fired heater shown in Figure 2-2. Assume that we are operating the
heater at 75 % throughput. Now consider the convection section where we
generate and export steam to the other parts of the plant. Let's say that the
plant does not have enough boiler capacity to make up for any cutback in steam
production here. At 75 % of design throughput, fired duty is about 75 % of its
design value. And, it follows that there is about three-fourths as much flue gas
going up the stack relative to the design case. Now, if we keep the water flow
through the convection coils at design rates, we might still be able to extract
enough heat to maintain design steam production. But, in the process, we will
most likely cool the flue gas below its acid dew point. From our earlier
discussion, this is clearly an untenable situation. In this case, one or more
auxiliary burners are needed in the stack. During turndown operation, the
operators can fire these burners to put sufficient heat into the flue gas to
maintain the desired level of steam production and keep the flue gas above its
acid dew point. Alternately, stainless steel tubes may be used in the uppermost
convection coil along with a stainless steel liner in the stack itself. Stainless steel
will not corrode in an acid environment; however, this material is very expensive
relative to carbon steel.
Now, if it is not critical to maintain design steam production at all times, then we
might choose to limit steam production at reduced furnace firing rates. To do
this, we could provide a bypass for the boiler feedwater around the preheat coil.
Flow through the bypass could be controlled to maintain stack exit temperature
safely above the acid dewpoint. During turndown operation, the bypass will open
allowing colder boiler feedwater to enter the steam drum. This changes the
system heat balance, lowering the overall steam production. As you can see,
client preferences and site specific considerations can dictate what
accommodations are needed for turndown operation.

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Before leaving this subject, let's look at one more example. Consider the fired
reboiler shown in Figure 2-1. In this case, the convection section is used to heat
the process fluid and the incoming combustion air. For a reduced process
throughput, the fired duty and air flow are proportionally lower. Since no
significant imbalance in the various heat duties should result, special burners or
instruments are probably not needed. Note that in this case, turndown operation
of the system as a whole is likely to be limited by the design of the associated
distillation column.
2.8.2

Overdesign
Fired heaters are often capable of satisfactory operation at nominally higher than
design duties and process throughputs. Such "overdesign" is inherent in most
process equipment. As you are probably aware, the heat transfer and pressure
drop correlations used in the design of fired heaters all have varying degrees of
uncertainty. To compensate for this, the vendor allows for more heat transfer
surface, a greater number of tubes, extra firing, etc. The vendor can then
confidently guarantee the required performance of the heater. Sometimes the
client specifies the amount of overdesign for various parts of the furnace. If,
however, this is left up to you (and the vendor), the following two general
guidelines may be used. First, burners and flues should be specified to permit
operation at 125 % of design heat release and 30 % excess air for fuel gas or
40 % excess for fuel oil. Second, fired heater duty should generally be designed
for continuous service at 10 % above the normally expected process operating
duty. This should be defined as normal flow at a lower inlet temperature. These
guidelines also compensate for variations in operations elsewhere in the unit,
e.g., fouling in an exchanger that preheats the furnace feed.

2.9

MISCELLANEOUS GUIDELINES
2.9.1

Heater Selection
Heater type selection is the joint responsibility of the Process and mechanical
Engineers. You can refer to Table 2-2 for general guidance. You should first
review the article entitled "Fired Heaters -1" taken from the July 19, 1978 issue of
Chemical Engineering. A copy of this article, included at the end of this article,
discusses the various types of fired heaters listed in Table 2-2.
Occasionally, several different services ("coils") may be placed in a single heater
with a cost saving. This is possible if the services are closely tied to each other
in the process. Catalytic reforming preheater and reheaters in one casing is an
example. Desulfurizer reactor heater and stripper reboiler in one casing is
another example. This arrangement is made possible by using a refractory
partition wall to separate the radiant coils. The separate radiant coils may be
controlled separately over a wide range of conditions by means of their own
controls and burners. If a convection section is used, it is usually common to the
several services. If maintenance on one coil is required, the entire heater must
be shut down. Also, the range of controllability is less than with separate
heaters.

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Each of these heater types may be shop fabricated if size permits. Shop
fabrication reduces costs. However, shop fabrication should not be forced to the
extent of getting an improperly proportioned heater.
2.9.2

Heater Tube Design Conditions


a.

Design Temperature
Tube design fluid temperature shall be set according to the following:
Outlet Temperature
Design Fluid Temperature
Up to 750 oF (399 oC)
750 oF (400 oC) or over

Outlet temperature + 10 %
Outlet temperature + 75 oF (42 oC)

For vacuum or coking services, maximum oil film temperature should not
be more than 50 oF (28 oC) above the maximum bulk oil temperature.
b.

Design Pressure
Design pressure shall be set according to the following:
Maximum Operating Pressure
(Under Fouled Conditions)
-

Up to 1000 psig (6.895 MPag)


1,000 psig or over (6.895 MPag)

Design Pressure

operating + 10 %
operating + 100 psi
(6.895 MPa)

Normal suction pressure plus shutoff differential pressure of an


upstream pump (only if heater can be closed in against the
pump).
Upstream pump suction pressure at pump source relief
conditions plus normal pump differential pressure (only if heater
can be closed against the pump).
150 psig, minimum (1.034 MPag).
Full vacuum (15 psi (0.103 MPa) external pressure) and 150
psig (1.034 MPag) minimum internal pressure for vacuum
service.
2.9.3

Process Tube and Fitting Corrosion Allowance


Where corrosion rates are available, heater tubes shall have sufficient corrosion
allowance for 100,000 hours operation. Where corrosive rates are not available,
the corrosion allowance guidelines from the Process Design Criteria Manual
given below may be used.

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Material
Carbon Steel & Low Chrome
(up to 4 %)
Alloy (above 4 % chrome)
2.9.4

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Corrosion Allowance
1/8"
1/16"

Pressure Drop
The process engineer must specify allowable pressure drop. Pressure drop is
the main factor in determining tube size and number of parallel passes.
Heater designers like to see high allowable pressure drop because this reduces
the number of parallel passes and tube size, hence, cost. It also reduces the
process piping, valving and controls required. If a maximum skin temperature or
film temperature is specified, higher pressure drop permits these criteria to be
met with less heater surface. These savings, however, are balanced by the
higher pumping cost.
Large heaters justify more pressure drop than small heaters because the larger
flow rates require more parallel passes at the usual diameters and lengths of
heater tubes.
When the process fluid is heated in both the radiant and convection sections of
the heater, consider providing a combined allowable pressure drop. This lets the
heater designer utilize the available pressure drop in an optimum design.
Manifolds are the piping outside the heater box which connect the passes to
process piping. Sometimes they are furnished by the heater manufacturer when
the thermal expansion of the manifold and the heater tubes can be handled best
by one designer, or whenever it is economical to use extruded header openings.
Sometimes they are furnished by Fluor Daniel as part of the process piping.
Unless it is certain that the heater vendor will furnish the manifolds and include
the manifold pressure drop in the allowed pressure droop for the heater, then the
process engineer should allow for it in the process piping pressure drop.
See Table 2-1 for a listing of typical pressure drops for various types of heater
services.

2.9.5

Piping Considerations
a.

Multipass Heaters
Process engineers often specify that piping to multipass heaters must be
symmetrical. Piping designers will interpret this instruction literally, and a
very expensive manifold can result. If the heater has an odd number of
passes, it is impossible to have symmetrical piping. It may be more
economical to allow a few extra psi in the pumps and achieve equal flow
resistance by means of a globe valve on each pass. However,
symmetrical piping is very important on heaters which cannot
have

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individually controlled passes and which have low pressure drops, i.e.,
catalytic reformer heaters. Also, keep in mind that similar equivalent
lengths and head are required and not absolute symmetry.
Multipass heaters in vaporizing service should have flow control on each
pass if practical. This usually means flow indicators and hand operated
globe valves, but occasionally automatic flow control is used. Do not
forget to allow pressure drop for this control.
b.

Two-Phase Flow
Certain processes (desulfurizers, hydrocrackers) have heat exchange
trains which preheat the feed to the furnace. Hydrogen recycle may also
be mixed with the feed. This situation causes a two-phase feed to the
heater. It is very desirable to flow control each pass to a multipass
heater and this cannot be done with two-phase flow. The use of single
pass heaters is one solution, but the tubes may become very large.
Some other solutions to the problem which may be considered are:
Heat Hydrogen recycle in a separate heater.
Separate the two-phase mixture in a vessel and flow control
each phase separately.
Use parallel trains with single pass heaters.
Slugging and vibration has been encountered in heater outlet lines with
two-phase flow when the velocity is too low.
The following
recommendations should help prevent these problems from occurring in
these situations.
1.

Calculate the velocity and mix density at the highest and lowest
pressure of the line. A large pressure drop in the line may
require intermediate velocity and density calculations and line
size changes. Pressure drop is to be calculated in the usual way
for two-phase flow.

2.

Plot the velocity versus diameter on the limiting velocity chart,


Figure 2-7. The actual velocity in the line must be equal to or
higher than the limiting velocity at the mixture density. Consider
the effect of reduced plant throughput.

If the velocity is too low, either the line size must be decreased and
higher pressure drop allowed, or the mixture density must be varied by
changing the vapor/liquid ratio; or a piping design must be used as
described in the following paragraph.
Piping design has a significant effect on slugging. If slugging will occur
according to the limiting velocity chart and the line may not be
reduced

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due to pressure drop limitations, then the larger line may be used
provided the horizontal portions are sloped downward and a P-trap is
added to the vertical portion. Two methods of sloping the line are shown
in Figure 2-8.
In all cases, even if slugging is not indicated on the limiting velocity chart,
all upward changes in direction should be vertical and not sloped. This
will prevent a liquid pocket from forming at the bend which would
ultimately lead to slugging as shown in Figure 2-8.
c.

Burner Piping
Burner valves are usually special globe or needle valves with position
indicators. Gas burner valves are located close to the burners, but far
enough away to protect the operator from flashback. Oil burner valves
are located close to the peepholes. When atomizing steam is required, a
check valve is provided in the steam line to prevent oil from backing into
the steam system.

2.9.6

Heater Grid
You should prepare a heater grid as part of the specification for any heater in
vaporizing service where the pressure drop through the tubes is 50 psi
(0.345 MPa) or greater and where the process material is a mixture of
components, e.g., crude oil or naphtha. Typically, crude and vacuum heaters
and fired reboilers fall into this category. A heater grid graphically shows the
equilibrium relationships between temperature, pressure, enthalpy and
vapor-liquid distribution for the process material. Figure 2-9 shows an example
heater grid. The exact temperature-pressure equilibrium path through the heater
cannot normally be predicted in advance and varies with vendor design. The
heater grid enables the vendor to extrapolate the equilibrium data as needed in
the design.
To prepare a heater grid, you must first estimate the pressure profile for the
process flowpath. You can refer to Table 2-1 for guidelines for minimum
pressure drop through the heater. From the column or crude tower computer
simulation, you know the pressure and temperature of the process material at
the tower inlet and the required duty of heater. You must decide on the percent
vaporization in the heater. This is usually on the order of 40-50 % for reboilers
and 50-75 % for crude and vacuum heaters. When dealing with a crude or
vacuum heater, you know the pseudo-composition of the process material, i.e.,
ASTM distillation data, characterization factors, etc., and its flowrate from the
process heat and material balance. In the case of a reboiler, however, you must
estimate the process stream composition based on the composition and
flowrates of both the bottoms liquid and the liquid leaving the bottom tray. Once
you determine the process material composition for the reboiler loop, and set the
percent vaporization, then the process flowrate is fixed. you can then run
computer flash calculations on the material for various temperatures, over the
range of system pressures. Using the results, you can construct a heater grid as

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shown in Figure 2-9. For vacuum column heaters, the procedure we have
outlined here is further complicated by
Figure 2-7
LIMITING VELOCITY - 2 PHASE FLOW IN VERTICAL LINES

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Figure 2-8
PIPING DESIGN FOR TWO-PHASE FLOW

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Figure 2-9

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the need for a trial and error calculation to optimize the size of the line between
the heater and the column. Refer to the Fluor Daniel Crude and Vacuum Unit
Design Manual for more details.
2.10

DECOKING
Coke is a residue of heavy aromatic compounds often formed on heat transfer surfaces
from which hydrocarbons are evaporated. In general, coke deposits can be expected on
the insides of fired heater tubes in hydrocarbon service above 600 oF (316 oC). The
heavier the hydrocarbons, the greater their coking tendency is. The presence of
hydrogen and/or steam tends to retard coke formation. Some coking and noncoking
furnace applications are listed below.
Coking Services
Atmospheric and vacuum pipe stills
H2 treater preheaters and interheaters
Thermal reforming
Visbreaking
Steam cracking
Crude
Noncoking Services
Hydrocarbon operations below 600 oF (316 oC)
Reforming furnaces (high H2)
For a process heater in coking service, you must specify tube temperature and pressure
during decoking. Usually, pressures are in the range of 10-50 psig (0.069-0.345 MPag).
Tube temperatures must be kept below 1300 oF (704 oC). You must also specify the
necessary auxiliary equipment such as the decoking quench drum, steam and air flow
meters, etc.
Decoking of furnace tubes is, in general, carried out as follows. The operators first shut
the heater down and remove any process material remaining in the tubes. next, they put
steam through the tubes at rates of 15-20 lb/sec ft2 (73.2-97.6 kg/m2 sec) and fire the
heater to yield a flue gas temperature of 1,350 oF (732 oC). This cracks about 90 % of
the coke off the tubes. next, the operators reduce the steam rates to around 5-7 lb/sec
ft2 (24.4-34.2 kg/m2 sec) and cut back on firing to lower the flue gas temperature to
1,200 oF (649 oC). Next, they gradually admit air in with the steam to burn off the
remaining coke. The burning process is monitored by watching tube temperature and
CO2 levels in the furnace effluent. Tubes must be kept below 1,300 oF (704 oC) and CO2
should stay below 19 % in the effluent gas. Visual monitoring of the tubes to watch for
hot spots is a must. Sometimes the operators choose to decoke at night when hot spots
are easier to see.
For a heater in coking service, you should specify a permanent steam-air decoking
system. One such system having two-directional manifolds appears in Figure
2-10.

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These are called "two directional" since steam and air can flow in either direction through
the furnace tubes. Using this type of system, only one tube pass can be decoked at a
time. Water is injected into the decoke effluent from each pass to stop the cracking and
combustion processes and to cool the material off. A knockout drum is needed to catch
the quench effluent. The drum should drain or be pumped out to an API separator where
oil, water and coke solids can be separated.
Figure 2-11 shows an alternate decoking system. In this system, all furnace tubes are
decoked at the same time. This saves considerable time and, hence, results in greater
on-stream time for both the heater and the unit in general. Steam and air injection is in
one direction only and this simplifies the manifolding at the heater. Here the decoking
effluent is quenched to 1,000 oF (538 oC) upstream of the knockout drum. Water is then
injected into the drum to further cool the effluent. There are, however, several
disadvantages to this type of system compared to the two-directional type. Since the
decoking steam is not condensed by the initial water injection, the knockout drum must
be bigger and must operate at a higher temperature. The venting rate from the drum is
higher since the incoming steam is not condensed. In practice, the cracking step in the
decoking process is not as effective as for a two-directional system.
2.11

REVIEW AND REVISIONS


As with most process equipment, at least one revision of equipment specification data
sheets will be required. The process information provided on the "Revision A" data
sheets usually doesn't change in subsequent issues. It can and does change if someone
finds an error in it or if the vendor recommends a change that is acceptable to Fluor
Daniel and the client. Remember, furnace designers have developed numerous
proprietary designs for tubular heaters to make efficient use of fuel and provide
satisfactory and economic mechanical design. You should always take advantage of the
vendor's greater knowledge of heater design. The case of the steam-hydrocarbon
reformer presented in Section 5.0 provides an example. In a note on page 2 of the
original data sheets, we specifically gave the vendor permission to alter the convection
heat recovery scheme to improve reformer efficiency. As it turns out, the vendor didn't
change the heat duties or steam flows, bit did change the water circulation rate through
the steam generation coil. The Process Engineer originally specified a ratio of four
pounds of water circulated for every one pound of steam generated. The vendor
changed this ratio to 9/1 due to undesirable two-phase flow/boiling heat transfer
characteristics at the lower circulation rate. For the most part though, the furnace
designer provides information that must be added to the specification sheets. This is
usually transmitted to Fluor Daniel in letters and on drawings. The task force mechanical
Engineer assigned to fired heaters adds this information to the specification sheets. The
vendor provides mechanical design details for the radiant and convection sections, the
tubes, the burners, the air preheater, etc.
The designer also provides heater
performance data based on burner tests made with the same type of fuels to be used in
the plant. You should review the "Approved for Construction" specification sheets for
each of the examples presented in this section. This will give you an overview of the
amount and type of vendor data that is needed to fully specify a fired heater.

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1.0

Figure 2-10
TWO-DIRECTIONAL STEAM-AIR DECOKING SYSTEM

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1.0

Figure 2-11
ALTERNATE STEAM-AIR DECOKING SYSTEM

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1.0

2.12

EXAMPLE CALCULATIONS
2.12.1 Boiler Efficiency Calculation
a.

Basic Data
1.

Fuel gas from overall material balance, Case I 2/9/79 by JRL.

2.

Diesel one barrel = 5.4 x 106 Btu LHV or 5.8 x 106 Btu HHV
FX-B, 2/12/79.
Assume diesel data based on attached charts
38 o API S.G. = 0.835
1 BBL = 292.1 lb
LHV

Gal
= 5.4 x 106 Btu BBL
= 18.484 Btu/lb
BBL
42 gal 8.33 x 0.835 lb

or HHV = 21,393 Btu/lb


C/H wt Ratio = 6

C:
H:

MW
1BBL

wt %
86
14
100

wt
6
1
7

lbs/BBL
251
41
292

= 205
= 1.43 MOLES

1.43 MOL Diesel 20.92 CO2 + 20.5H2O


O2 Required: 31.17 MOL
b.

Heat Balance
Base firing on 100 MOL/hr gas
Oil fired duty
Total fired duty
Diesel Required

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= 2.76 - 2.76
0.9

2.76 x 106 Btu/hr

0.31 x 106 Btu/hr

3.07 x 106 Btu/hr

6
Btu/hr = 0.057 BBL/hr
= 0.31 x 10
6
5.4 x 10 Btu/BBL

MOL/BBL
20.92 C
20.50 H2

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(a)

MOL/hr(b)

2.02

H2

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COMP

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

O2
X

FLUE GAS COMPONENTS

O2 REQ
MOL/hr

SO2

CO2

H2 O

O2

N2

COMBUSTION CALCULATIONS
CO

(c) LHV Btu/lb

0.5

51,623

4,347

CO

28.01

0.5

CO2

44.01

21,495

20,418

CH4

16.04

2.0

C 2 H6

30.07

3.5

20,275

19,937

C 2 H4

28.05

3.0

C 3 H8

44.10

5.0

19,687

19,678

C 3 H6

42.08

4.5

C4H10

58.12

6.5

C 4 H6

56.11

6.0

N2 + A

28.01

1.5

6,537

4,149

H2 S

34.08

COS

60.08

1.5

S02

64.06

H2 O
DIESEL

205

Total MOL/hr

1.43
1.43

Theo. O2 Reqd., MOL/hr


Excess O2 Reqd., MOL/hr 20%
Total O2 supplied, MOL/hr

11.8

31.17

20.92 -

20.50

31.17

20.92

20.50

18,484
Assume None

178.04

Assume C/H Wt Ratio = 6


and MW 205
1

3.77

140.64

3.77

181.81

FLUE GAS
COMPONENTS, MOL/hr

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Total 5.4 X 105 LHV

6.23

37.40

Total Dry Air, MOL/hr

Total Wet Air

or 6.25 x 106 HHV

6.23

140.64

H2O in Air (Dry air x 0.0212) MOL/hr

19,493
1

31.17

N2 supplied (O2 x 3.76) MOL/hr

(a)(b)(c) Heat
Released Btu/hr

20.92

24.27

6.23

140.64

5,4 X 106

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PAGE

37

DATE

10-94

PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

PROCESS MANUAL

COMP

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

MW
(a)

MOL/hr(b)

2.02

7.83

O2
X
0.5

CO

28.01

1.91

0.5

CO2

44.01

27.18

FLUE GAS COMPONENTS

O2 REQ
MOL/hr
3.92
1

0.96
-

CO2

SO2

H2 O
1

COMBUSTION CALCULATIONS
CO

(c)LHV Btu/lb

(a)(b)(c) Heat
Released Btu/hr

O2

N2

7.83

51,623

816,500

1.91

4,347

232,561

27.18

CH4

16.04

1.25

2.0

2.50

1.25

C 2 H6

30.07

0.46

3.5

1.61

2.50

21,495

430,975

0.92

1.38

20,418

0.56

232,426

0.56

20,275

159,240

0.66

0.88

19,937

193,429

0.63

19,687

173,970

0.65

19,678

148,679

19,493

C 2 H4

28.05

0.28

3.0

0.84

C 3 H8

44.10

0.22

5.0

1.10

0.63

0.52

C 3 H6

42.08

0.21

4.5

0.95

C4H10

58.12

0.13

6.5

0.85

C 4 H6

56.11

NH3

17.03

0.08

N2 + A

28.01

55.27

6.0

H2 S

34.08

0.002

1.5

60.08

1.5

64.06

H2 O
C5 +

86.17

Total MOL/hr

COS
S02

0.003

0.002

0.08

55.27

446

0.002

6,537

4,149

5.01

5.01

0.19

7.5

1.14

1.33

19,415

317,868

100.02

Theo. O2 Reqd., MOL/hr


Excess O2 Reqd., MOL/hr 20%

1.81
14.54

17.45
65.61

Total Dry Air, MOL/hr

83.06

FLUE GAS COMPONENTS, MOL/hr

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55.35

2.91

N2 supplied (O2 x 3.76) MOL/hr

Total Wet Air

20.77

Assume None

Total 2.76 x 106 Btu/hr

14.54

Total O2 Supplied, MOL/hr

H2O in Air (Dry air x 0.0212) MOL/hr

72.7 Btu/SCF say 73

2.91

1.76

65.61

1.76

84.82
34.77

0.002

22.53

2.91

120.96

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38

DATE

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FIRED HEATERS
PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

BOILER FREQUENCY
STACK LOSSES
CO2
MOLS F.G. from 100 MOL/hr Gas

34.77

TOTAL MOLS/hr F.G.


Average Mcp 80 F 500 F
Btu/MOL oF
o

Heat Cont. (Mcp) (F.G.) (T) Btu/hr

O2

TOTAL

N2
2.91

120.96

1.38

0.36

8.02

35.96

23.91

3.27

128.98

10.1

8.2

7.25

7.05

1.19

0.002

H2 O
22.53

MOLS F.G. from 0.057 BBL/hr


Diesel

SO2

N/L

152,542

82,346

Atomizing Steam

9,957

381,910

626,755

Neglect

Total Stack Losses @ 500 oF Btu/hr

626,755

Average Mcp 80 oF 450 oF


Btu/MOL oF
Heat Cont. (Mcp) (F.G.) (T) Btu/hr

10

8.2

133,052

7.25

75,543

Atomizing Steam

8,772

7.05
336,444

553,811

Neglect
o

553,811

Total Stack Losses @ 450 F Btu/hr

Note:
Assume 80 oF Base Temperature
BOILER HEAT BALANCE
OUT @ 500 oF

IN
Air @ 80 oF
o

Fuel Gas @ 95 F
Fuel Oil @ ? oF
Atomizing Steam
Total Fuel LHV Btu/hr

10,500

Neglect

Neglect

3,070,000

2,376,732

Process (By Difference)


Flue Gas
Heat Losses (2.5 %)
Total Btu/hr

OUT @ 450 oF

3,080,500
o

Efficiency = (2.44/3.08) (100) = 79.5 % for 450 F Stack Outlet


Efficiency = (2.38/3.08) (100) = 77.5 % for 500 oF Stack Outlet

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2,439,176

626,755

553,811

77,013

77,013

3,080,500

3,080,500

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DATE

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FIRED HEATERS
PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

PROCESS MANUAL

2.12.2 Fired Heater SO3 Emission


a.

Calculate MOLES of each element in fuel oil


Basis = 100 lb fuel oil
Wt %

MW

MOLES

Carbon

87.26

87.26

12

7.27

Hydrogen

10.49

10.49

10.49

Oxygen

0.64

0.64

16

0.04

Nitrogen

0.28

0.28

14

0.02

Sulfur

0.84

0.84

32.06

0.26

Ash

0.04

0.04

100
b.

Lb

100

18.08

Assume SO2: SO3 @ equilibrium = 20: 1


Calculate MOLES S as SO2 and MOLES S as SO3 after combustion
= MOLES SO3

0.26
= 20

0.26 = 21
0.0124 = = MOLES SO3, and
0.26 - 0.0124 = 0.2476 MOLES SO2

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FIRED HEATERS
PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

PROCESS MANUAL

c.

Calculate O2 required for complete theoretical combustion


MOLES O2

d.

7.27 C

(1/1) 7.27 O2

7.27 CO2

7.27

10.49 H

(1/4) 10.49 O2

5.245 H2O

2.62

0.04 O

(1/2) 0.04 O2

0.04 O2

0.02

0.02 N

(1/1) 0.02 O2

0.02 NO2

0.02

0.2476 S

(1/1) 0.02476 O2

0.2476 SO2

0.25

0.0124 S

(3/2) 0.0124 O2

0.0124 SO3

0.0186
10.1992

For 20 % excess air, calculate flue gas composition


O2 Required

10.1992 x 1.2 = 12.2390 MOLES

Air Required

(12.2390) (1/0.21) = 58.281 MOLES air

MOLES N2 in flue gas


and, MOLES O2 flue gas

= 46.04 MOLES
= 12.239 - 10.1992
= 2.0398 MOLES O2

Note that we have implicitly assumed that none of the N2 from the air
reacts to form NOx. Strictly speaking, this is not true, but is a good
approximation.

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DATE

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FIRED HEATERS
PROCESS DESIGN CRITERIA

PROCESS MANUAL

Flue Gas Composition @ 20 % Excess Air

MOLES

MW

MOLE
FRACTION

CO2

7.27

44

0.1194

319.88

H2O

5.250

19

0.0862

94.41

O2

2.040

32

0.0335

65.28

46.04

28

0.7563

1,289.12

NO2

0.02

46

0.0003

0.92

SO2

0.2476

64

0.0041

15.81

SO3

0.0124

80

0.0002

1.04

1.0000

1,786.46

N2

60.875
e.

LB

Calculate PPM SO3 (Dry Basis) and partial pressure of H2O vapor, then
find SO3 dew point from Figure 2-4.
SO3 PPM Dry = [ 0.0124 / (60.875 - 5.245) ] 106 = 223 PPM
H2O Partial Press
Pressure leaving radiant zone is slightly negative.
Assume P = 750 mm Hg

H2O Partial Pressure = (750) (0.0862) = 64.65 mm Hg

DEW POINT FOR SO3


From Figure 2-4, T = 290 oF

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DATE

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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

PROCESS MANUAL
1.0

1.0
2.0

3.0

FIRED HEATER REBOILER


3.1

GENERAL
We now discuss heater process calculations and how to specify a fired heater reboiler.
This is one of the most common kinds of fired heaters used in the oil and petrochemical
industries. The principle uses for fired heater reboilers are large duty, high temperature
services such as crude towers, large debutanizers, and large desulfurizer fractionators
(the case for out example reboiler). At appropriate points in our presentation, we refer to
the Fired Heater Specification Sheets at the end of this subsection to point out where the
results of our calculations should be filled in. Before beginning, however, we want to give
you some background information about our example heater.
The example is for a fired reboiler on a stripping column in a naphtha
hydrodesulfurization (HDS) unit. The naphtha is hydrotreated in a fixed bed catalytic
reactor to convert the sulfur, which is present in various compounds, to H2S. The
naphtha and unreacted hydrogen are separated in a vessel before the naphtha is fed to
the stripping column where H2S is removed. In the stripper, the C5 and lighter
hydrocarbons are also taken overhead since they are not desirable in the downstream
reformer which converts the naphtha to a high octane gasoline blending stock.

3.2

CALCULATIONS
The first step in the calculations is to establish the heat and material balance for the unit
in which the reboiler functions. This is usually done on the computer. Figures 3-1A and
3-1B show an example of what the output looks like. (Computer output is from a different
example.) At this point we know only the reboiler duty and some of the properties of the
liquid to the reboiler. For our example heater, the required duty is 55.56 MM Btu/hr
(16.3 MW). The fluid conditions at the column inlet are 498 oF (259 oC) and 140 psig
(0.965 MPag). The computer calculations are based on a once-through thermosyphon
reboiler with liquid from the last tray as feed. For a fired reboiler, the Process Engineer
sets the percent vaporization and performs additional calculations, either by hand or
computer, to characterize the process conditions for the fired heater. The calculations
should proceed as follows:
3.2.1

Heater Selection and Flowsketch


You must choose the type of heater to be used, locate it on the available plot
space, and then lay out the circulation loop in as much detail as possible. You
should consult your lead engineer and a heater specialist in the Mechanical
Department for help in selecting the type of fired heater appropriate for your
particular application. Figure 3-2 at the end of this section shows the layout for
our example reboiler.
Unlike shell and tube type exchangers, fire heaters are often located a minimum
of 25 ft (7.62 m) from other fired heaters, 50 ft (15.24 m) from other process
equipment and 100 ft (30.48 m) from buildings. On top of these requirements,
heaters must be located so as to allow sufficient access for maintenance.
Together, all of these considerations ensure that a fire reboiler will be located
some finite distance (on the order of 50 ft) (15.24 m) away from the distillation
tower it serves.

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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

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Figure 3-1A
STRIPPER MATERIAL AND HEAT BALANCE

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FIRED HEATERS
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Figure 3-1B
STRIPPER

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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

1.0

Figure 3-2
REBOILER CIRCULATION LOOP SKETCH

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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

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3.2.2

Pressure Profile
You must estimate the pressure profile for the reboiler circulation loop. We have
done this in Figure 3-2 for our example reboiler. From the computer stripper
calculation we know that the fluid conditions at the column inlet are 140 psig
(0.965 MPag) and 498 oF (259 oC). Based on experience with similar heaters,
we assumed a total pressure drop through the radiant and convection sections of
45 psi (0.31 MPa). We have allowed 20 psi (0.138 MPa) drop across the heater
inlet control valve. The static head loss between the pump centerline and the
heater inlet is approximately 7 psi (0.048 MPa) (20' (6.1 m) of liquid with 0.7531
specific gravity). And, we have assumed the following line friction losses:
10 psi (0.069 MPa) from the pump to the heater inlet control valve.
3 psi (0.021 MPa) from the control valve to the heater inlet.
15 psi (0.103 MPa) from the heater outlet to the tower inlet.

3.2.3

Fluid Composition
As we mentioned earlier, the composition of the reboiler liquid as given by the
computer stripper simulation is incorrect. For our example stripper, the
composition and conditions of the bottoms product and the reboiler inlet liquid are
the same. The liquid at the heater inlet has an API gravity of 56.4 and a
temperature of 484 oF (251 oC).

3.2.4

Percent Vaporization
This usually ranges from 40-50 % for fixed reboilers. In this case we have
chosen 42 %. Vaporization of more than 50 % of the heater throughput often
leads to increased coking, poor fluid hydraulics, reduced internal heat transfer,
and tube overheating. Now, we know the reboiler duty and we have set the
composition of the reboiler feed and the percent vaporization. This fixes the
circulation rate through the reboiler. To calculate this number, we must now run
flash calculations on the system.

3.2.5

Flash Calculations and Heater Grid


You should do the flash calculations for various temperatures at the system
pressures you assigned earlier. This is most often done on the computer. The
preferred models are a heat exchanger or a series of flashes. The results of
these calculations give the vapor-liquid distribution, compositions, physical
properties and enthalpies over the range of temperatures and pressures under
consideration.
For our example, we ran computer flash calculations for pressures of 140, 150,
160, 180, 190 and 200 psig (0.965, 1.034, 1.103, 1.241, 1.310 and 1.379 MPag)
at temperatures ranging from 484 oF (251 oC) to 532 oF (278 oC). We found the
circulation rate to be 1,051,186 lb/hr (476,810 kg/hr). With 42 % vaporization in
the reboiler, there are 441,498 lb/hr (200,260 kg/hr) of vapor with a molecular
weight of 120 and 609,688 lb/hr (276,550 kg/hr) of liquid with an API Gravity of

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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

PROCESS MANUAL
1.0

54.5o at the heater outlet. The heater outlet temperature is 507 oF (264 oC) at a
pressure of 155 psig (1.069 MPag).
We plotted the results of the flash calculations on a heater grid as shown with the
heater specification sheets at the end of this subsection. Note that we split the
data between two separate graphs instead of putting it all on one chart as shown
in the design criteria part of this section.
3.3

SPECIFICATION SHEETS
After completing the above calculations you can fill in the following general information
and material balance data on "Revision A" of the Fired Heater Specification Sheets
(Form E-533A):
Line Number
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
15-24
25-35

Description
Client Name
Heater Service
Unit
Heater Type
Heater Section
Service
Heat Absorption
Fluid Type
Process Fluid Flowrate
Allowable Pressure Drop Through Heater Tubes
Fluid Conditions at Heater Inlet
Fluid Conditions at Heater Outlet

Note that we have left the vendor to decide the split of heat absorption between the
radiant and convection sections. Furnace designers have developed many proprietary
designs for tubular heaters to make efficient use of fuel and provide satisfactory and
economic mechanical design. Unless you encounter a special situation, you should give
the vendor a free hand in this phase of the design.
As a continuation of our discussion we will complete filling out "Revision A" of the Fired
Heater Specification Sheets and we will present these along with the final "Approved for
Construction" version of these data sheets for our example in Section 3.5. You should
note that other than specifying materials of construction and corrosion allowance, the
Mechanical Engineer assigned to fired heaters made no changes to the "Revision A"
data sheets. There are probably two reasons for this. First, as mentioned in the
introduction to this section, Fluor Daniel specifies the performance of a fired heater while
the furnace vendor actually does the mechanical design. The Mechanical Engineer
monitors and checks the vendor's work throughout the design on behalf of both Fluor
Daniel and the client. He or she will keep the Process Engineer abreast of any changes
recommended by the vendor and will assist in revising the specification sheets as
needed. Second, the Process Engineer consulted with his counterpart in the Mechanical
Engineering Department during the initial specifications of the heater. Such matters as
basic furnace configuration, convection heat recovery, equipment items included in the
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FIRED HEATERS
FIRED HEATER REBOILER

1.0

scope, etc., were discussed. This should be a standard practice in all such cases. In
this way, much unnecessary recycle of information can be avoided.
The following items must also be filled in by the Process Engineer for the initial issue of
the specification sheets. These are listed below and discussed according to subject and
location on the data sheets.
3.3.1

Average (Radiant) Flux Density


(Form E-553-A, Line No. 11)
As the radiant heat flux increases; the tube life decreases, but so does the initial
cost of the heater. The designer must optimize these quantities. Heat flux is
normally based on client specifications or FD standard practices. Table 2-1
gives some typical radiant fluxes for fired heaters. You should also consult with
the Mechanical Engineering Department's heater group. For our example, we
have chosen a maximum average radiant heat flux of 12,500 Btu/hr ft2
(39.44 W/m2).

3.3.2

Process Tube Design Temperature and Pressure


(Form E-553-A, Line No. 37-38)
Design pressure is normally the higher of the reboiler pump shut-off pressure or
the tower design pressure. Tube design temperature is normally 25 - 100 oF
(14 - 55 oC) (typically 50 oF) (28 oC) above the design outlet temperature. Often,
the design temperature is taken to be the highest temperature corresponding to
the tower design pressure, i.e., the highest relief temperature for the system.
Refer to the FD Houston Utilities and Offsites Training Manual, Section 6, for a
discussion of upset or relief conditions. For our example, the design conditions
are 260 psig (1,793 MPag), the tower design pressure and 650 oF (343 oC), the
temperature in the reboiler for an overhead product cooler failure.

3.3.3

Decoking Pressure and Temperature


(Form E-553-A Line No. 41)
As mentioned in Section 2.0, tube temperatures must be kept below 1,300 oF
(704 oC) during decoking operations. Pressures are normally kept around 10-50
psig (0.069 - 0.345 MPag).
In our example, we have chosen 30 psig
(0.207 MPag) and 1,250 oF (677 oC) for decoking conditions. Even though we
have called for a tube design temperature of 650 oF (343 oC), we must let the
vendor know that the heater tubes will be subject to this higher temperature at
low pressure during decoking. The vendor must ensure that the heater tubes
can withstand both sets of conditions.

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3.3.4

Items Included in Scope of Each Heater


(Form E-553-B, Line 1-10)
This section defines what fired heater items (including auxiliaries such as
combustion air and flue gas fans and soot blowers) must be supplied by the
vendor and which items will be supplied by FD. Usually, FD and the client will
jointly decide on such details in the early stages of the project.

3.3.5

Site and Utility Data


(Form E-553-B, Line No. 11-17)
At the beginning of a job the client usually provides this information to FD. It is
then transmitted to the Process Engineer in the form of job bulletins or in a book
along with other design data.

3.3.6

Fuel Data
(Form E-553-B, Line 18-34)
The client may supply information on fuel types, composition and available
temperature and pressure. Otherwise, the Utilities Engineers develop this
information. For our example, we have specified three fuels, two for the furnace
burners and one for the pilots. Refinery fuel gas is the normal heater fuel. The
composition of this gas varies and the supply of it is subject to interruption.
Pipeline natural gas, on the other hand, is the fuel for the pilots. This is not
unusual since for stable operation the pilots require a reliable supply of gaseous
fuel having constant composition. For future operation, we have specified No. 6
Fuel Oil.
The heating value of the fuel gas ranges from 600 - 1,034 Btu/SCF
(23,620 - 41,010 kJ/Nm3) and its specific gravity ranges from 0.567 to 0.704.
These numbers reflect wide variations in composition. We have provided the
composition of the fuel gas corresponding to its lowest heating value. Under
these conditions, the gas contains 40.8 % H2 and 8.0 % N2, both on a molar
basis. The gas also contains 0.2 grains of sulfur per standard cubic foot (SCF)
(0.48 g/Nm3). Paraffin hydrocarbons ranging from methane through butane
comprise the balance of the fuel gas.
Our client wants the capability to fire the heater with No. 6 Fuel Oil. This oil has
a LHV of 18,000 Btu/lb (41,870 kJ/kg) and a HHV of 19,000 Btu/lb
(44,200 kJ/kg). Its carbon to hydrogen ratio is 8.7/1 on a weight bases and it has
a flash point of 150 oF (66 oC). The oil contains 0.30 % bound nitrogen, 0.74 %
sulfur, and 0.05 % ash, all on a weight basis. The levels of sodium and
vanadium are 40 ppm and 20 ppm, respectively.
The pilot gas is pipeline natural gas containing 97 % methane, 1.6 % CO2, and
1.4 % N2, all on a molar basis. Its molecular weight is 16.6 and its specific
gravity is 0.575. The gas has a LHV of 882 Btu/SCF (34,720 kJ/Nm3) and a
HHV of 975 Btu/SCF (38,380 kJ/Nm3), and we will deliver it to the pilots at
150 psig.

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3.3.7

Materials of Construction and Corrosion Allowance


Materials were not specified in this case since the desulfurized naphtha is not
corrosive. The Mechanical Engineer will select the materials based on physical
properties and will then assign a corrosive allowance for the heater tubes and
fittings. You should review these specifications made by the Mechanical
Engineer.
This completes our work on "Revision A" of the specifications sheets located at
the end of this narrative. The Mechanical Engineer reviews these data sheets
and adds information on metallurgy and tube corrosion allowance. Directly
behind these initial specifications are copies of the "Approved for Construction"
issue. These contain all of the pertinent detailed information issued by the
vendor.

3.4

AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT
A fired reboiler is a simple-type direct fired tubular heater as defined in the introduction to
this section. From our discussion so far, you probably realize that a fired reboiler
basically consists of a radiant and a convection section, a flue stack, burners, internal
piping and ducts, and numerous related controllers and indicators. Other related
equipment items, e.g., combustion air fans, are not part of the heater itself even though
they may be supplied by the vendor and their functions may be directly linked to that of
the heater. The auxiliary equipment is basically descried in the first section on Page 2 of
the specification. In addition, the following items may also be considered auxiliaries.
3.4.1

Reboiler Circulation System and Control


This is usually supplied by FD.

3.4.2

Decoking Effluent Quench Drum


Receives solid coke and combustion products from the decoking process. The
solid coke is still burning when it reaches this vessel and must be quenched with
water. FD usually furnishes this system.

3.4.3

Emergency Shutdown System


FD usually designs the emergency shutdown system for fired heaters. Some
elements such as the flame detector (not used in our example) may be supplied
by the vendor.
You must fill out specification sheets for the major equipment items. The
emergency shutdown system will be shown on the Mechanical Flow Diagram as
a joint effort with Control Systems.

3.5

EXAMPLE SPECIFICATION SHEETS


See attached completed specification sheets. (Total 15 pages).

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Pages 3-8 of the Revision A specification sheets (Forms E533C-H) are not shown since
the Process Engineer did not add any information to them in this example. In practice,
however, you should include these blank data sheets with your original specification.

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3.6

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES


(Compared with Shell and Tube Exchanger choices as described in Process Manual
225.003-Heat Exchangers).
Advantages of Fired Heaters
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Large heat duties possible.


High temperature potential.
Positive flow from circulating pumps.
Favored where steam/hot oil is not available or fuel value is low.
Higher heat transfer per square foot of tube than with shell and tube reboilers
(tube surface unit cost greater, however).
Heat recovery is possible to produce by-product steam or preheat another
process stream.
Normally best fuel efficiency possible for large duties at higher temperatures.
Not sensitive to fluid properties (except for coking or cracking).
Not highly sensitive to critical operating conditions.
Controlled percentage vaporization.

Disadvantages of Fired Heaters


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

High initial cost.


Substantial utility/instrumentation auxiliaries.
Hot supply pumps required. Substantial maintenance.
Considerable plot plan space required.
Multiple circulation pumps required.
Some risk of coking in emergencies and risk of tube failure; tube failure can be
major hazard.
Tends to degrade (thermally crack) heat sensitive fluids.
Shutdown and startup and control response relatively slow.
Higher tower elevation for NPSH and long inlet and return lines.
Often not equivalent to a theoretical stage.

These considerable disadvantages have limited the application of fired heater reboilers in
recent years. Principal uses are now large duty, high temperature services such as
crude
towers,
large
debutanizers/naphtha
stabilizers,
large
desulfurizer
stabilizers/fractionators.
An early decision on fired heater usage is required to improve plot plan layout, to ensure
proper cost estimation, sufficient allocation of plot space, and design/construction
manpower.

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2.0
3.0

4.0

CRUDE OIL HEATER


4.1

GENERAL
We now discuss heater process calculations and how to specify a crude oil heater. This
type of heater is found exclusively in oil refineries. It is used to partially vaporize the oil
feed to an atmospheric crude tower in a crude unit. At appropriate points in our
presentation, we refer to the Fired Heater Specification Sheets at the end of this
subsection to point out where the results of our calculations should be filled in. Before
beginning, however, we want to give you some background information about our
example heater.
Our example is a crude heater on an atmospheric crude column in an oil refinery. The
atmospheric column is part of a crude unit. Such a unit separates virgin crude oil into
several fractions which have characteristic boiling ranges. The refiner can either market
these directly or process the further into saleable products. In a typical crude unit, the
virgin oil is first treated to remove chlorides and other ionic species. This is called
desalting. The oil is then heated and partially vaporized in a fired heater, the crude
heater. From here, the crude goes to the atmospheric tower where the vapor is
fractionated into an overhead product and several sidedraw products. These are sent to
other units for further separation and processing. Refer to the flowsketch shown in
Figure 4-1. The higher boiling crude fractions, taken out the bottom of the column,
undergo further separation in a vacuum stripping tower.

4.2

CALCULATIONS
Establishing the heat and material balance is the first step in calculating a crude unit.
This is usually done on the computer. Figure 4-2 shows the computer printout for the
crude oil feed to the heater. At the heater inlet the oil conditions are 148.7 psia
(1,025 MPaa) and 517 oF (269 oC). The total flow is 765,600 lb/hr (347,270 kg/hr).
Figure 4-3A and 4-3B shows the feed compositions and conditions at inlet to the crude
column. At a pressure of 44.7 psia (0.308 MPaa) and a temperature of 710 oF, (377 oC)
there are 609,631 lb/hr (276,530 kg/hr) of liquid and 155,963 lb/hr (70,744 kg/hr) of
vapor.
The heat required to vaporize slightly over 20 % of the crude oil feed and deliver it to the
tower at these conditions equals 113.69 MM Btu/hr (33.31 MW). This is the duty of the
crude heater. At this point you do not know the process conditions at the heater outlet.
You must calculate these as follows:
4.2.1

Heater Selection and Flowsketch


You must choose the type of heater to be used, locate it on the available plot
space, and then lay out the flowpath in as much as detail as possible. You
should consult your lead engineer and a heater specialist in the Mechanical
Department for help in selecting the type of fired heater appropriate for your
particular application. Figure 4-1 shows the process flow for our example heater.
Unlike shell and tube type exchangers, fired heaters are often located a minimum
of 25 ft (7.62 m) from other fired heaters, 50 ft (15.24 m) away from other

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Figure 4-1
BASIC CRUDE UNIT FLOW SKETCH AND CONTROL SCHEME

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Figure 4-2
DATA FOR FEED TO CRUDE HEATER

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Figure 4-3A
DATA FOR CRUDE TOWER FEED AT TOWER INLET

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Figure 4-3B
DATA FOR CRUDE TOWER FEED AT TOWER INLET

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process equipment and 100 ft (30.48 m) away from building, boilers, motor
control centers, etc. These minimum distances are favored by the Oil Insurance
Association (O.I.A.) and Factory Mutual Insurance and should be followed if
client standards are not given. Remember, that in addition to the safety
problems posed by an open flame, you must consider accessibility for
maintenance in locating a heater. Taken together, these considerations ensure
that a crude heater will be located some finite distance (on the order of 50 ft)
(15.24 m) away from the column it serves.
4.2.2

Pressure Profile
You must estimate the pressure drop through the heater and from the heater to
the column. The heater pressure drop is usually in the range of 70-100 psi
(0.482-0.689 MPa); however, the drop can be as high as 150-200 psi
(1.034-1.379 MPa). For our example, we chose 100 psi (0.689 MPa) pressure
loss through the crude heater. For the line running from the heater to the column
there is no static head loss. We have allowed 4 psi (0.028 MPa) friction loss in
this line.

4.2.3

Flash Calculations
You should now do flash calculations on the crude oil for ranges of temperature
and pressure that overlap those you expect the system to operate at. Base
these conditions on your heat and material balance and pressure profile. The
flash calculations are most often done on the computer. The preferred models
are a heat exchanger or a series of flashes.
For our example, we ran computer flash calculations for pressures of 1.0, 34, 60,
100 and 140 psig (0.007,0.234, 0.414, 0.689 and 0.965 MPag) at temperatures
ranging from 500 oF (260 oC) to 750 oF (399 oC). At the heater outlet we found
that out of a total flowrate of 765,600 lb/hr (347,270 kg/hr), we have 601,425
lb/hr (272,800 kg/hr of liquid having an API gravity of 11 o at 60 oF (16 oC) and
164,175 lb/hr (74,470 kg/hr) of vapor having a molecular weight of 159.8. This
represents 21.4 % vaporization by weight in the heater. The outlet temperature
is 718 oF (381 oC) at a pressure of 34 psig (0.234 MPag).
We plotted the results of the flash calculations as shown on pages 9-12 of the
"Revision A" heater specification sheets (see Section 4.5). Note that we present
the data on four separate plots instead of putting it all on one chart as shown in
the design criteria part of this section. Note also that we have not included
enthalpy data in our plots. This is acceptable since the vendor uses our flash
data to calculate the two phase pressure drop throughout the heater. The
necessary parameters include temperature, pressure, vapor-liquid distribution,
liquid gravity, and vapor molecular weight. The vendor designs the burners and
other pieces of the furnace based on the duty we calculate.

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4.2.4

Convection Section Heat Recovery


We must first estimate the amount of heat in the flue gas available for recovery.
The absorbed (or process) duty of the heater is 113.69 MM Btu/hr (33.31 MW).
The crude oil feed is heated first in the convection section and then routed to the
radiant section. It is reasonable to assume that 30 % of the process duty will be
absorbed in the convection section and 70 % in the radiant section. The radiant
duty, therefore, is 79.58 MM Btu/hr (23.34 MW). We have specified a vertical
cylindrical type crude heater with mechanical draft. A reasonable radiant
efficiency is 53 % and, if we don't use an air preheater, a reasonable overall
thermal efficiency is 86 %. Now, we can estimate the available heat in the flue
gas using the following equation we introduced in part 2 of this section:
Overall Thermal Efficiency

1
Convection Duty = Radiant Duty

Radiant Efficiency

And we find that the available convection heat is 49.55 MM Btu/hr (14.53 MW).
The process fluid absorbs 34.10 MM Btu/hr (10.0 MW) of this heat (30 % of the
absorbed duty), and, hence there are 15.44 MM Btu/hr (4.53 MW) left over.
How should we recover the remaining stack gas heat? We could only generate
approximately 15,000 lb/hr (6,804 kg/hr) of steam with it. This is insignificantly in
terms of the overall needs of the refinery and probably wouldn't yield a sufficient
return on the investment in the necessary equipment such as a stream drum and
boiler feed pumps. And, besides, there isn't room for such auxiliary equipment in
our example since plot space is limited. We could use the flue gas heat to
preheat the incoming combustion air. This would raise the overall thermal
efficiency of the heater to around 90 % but would require a capital investment in
the preheater, air ducts, etc. This is often what is done but in our case there is
still a better alternative. Upon examining the heat and material balance for the
crude unit we notice that the required reboiler duty for a column called the
prefractionator is 12.8 MM Btu/hr (3.75 MW). This column separates the crude
column overhead product into an overhead off gas stream and a light naphtha
bottoms product. To reboil this column using heat from crude heater flue gas
eliminates the need for a separate reboiler. Also, the capital investment in the
required flue stack coils for the crude heater is minimal. Hence, this is our
choice.
Note that according to our estimates we still have 2.64 MM Btu/hr (0.77 MW) of
recoverable flue gas heat. Remember, though, we made a number of
assumptions in our calculations and used a "rule of thumb" correlation. Based
on the results we are confident that there is sufficient heat in the flue gas to heat
the incoming crude oil and to reboil the prefractionator. To go beyond this
requires an accurate determination of the split in absorbed duty between the
radiant and convection sections and a more rigorous calculation of the
recoverable heat. We did this is the case of the steam-hydrocarbon reformer
example presented in Section 5.0. We refer you there for details. In the case of
our crude heater example, however, the project schedule didn't allow sufficient
time for an in-depth look at convection heat recovery. The vendor will ultimately

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decide on the split of absorbed duty between the radiant and convection sections
and will rigorously calculate the convection heat recovery. The vendor will inform
FDI of any necessary changes and will recommend if any additional heat
recovery is feasible.
To adequately specify the convection reboiler section, you must calculate the
process conditions for the reboiler circulation loop. This is discussed in detail in
Section 3.2 entitled Fired Heater Reboiler. For our example here, we present the
final results of the required calculations and leave it to you to research the
details. The results appear on the specification sheets in Section 4.5.
4.3

SPECIFICATION SHEETS
After completing the above calculations you can fill in the following general information
and material balance data on "Revision A" of the Fired Heater Specification Sheets
(Form E-533A):
Line Number

Description

Client Name

Heater Service

Unit

Heater Type

Heater Section

Service

Heat Absorption

Fluid Type

Process Fluid Flowrate

10

Allowable Pressure Drop through Heater


Tubes

15-24

Fluid Conditions at Heater Inlet

25-35

Fluid Conditions at Heater Outlet

As a continuation of our discussion we will complete filling out "Revision A" of the Fired
Heater Specification Sheets and we will present these along with the final "Approved for
Construction" version of these data sheets for our example in Section 4.5. You should
note that other than specifying materials of construction and corrosion allowance, the
Mechanical Engineer assigned to fired heaters made no changes to the "Revision A"
data sheets. There are probably two reasons for this. First, as mentioned in the
introduction to this section, Fluor Daniel specifies the performance of a fired heater while
the furnace vendor actually does the mechanical design. The Mechanical Engineer
monitors and

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checks the vendor's work throughout the design on behalf of both Fluor Daniel and the
client. He or she will keep the Process Engineer abreast of any changes recommended
by the vendor and will assist in revising the specification sheets as needed. Second, the
Process Engineer consulted with his counterpart in the Mechanical Engineering
Department during the initial specifications of the heater. Such matters as basic furnace
configuration, convection heat recovery, equipment items included in the scope, etc.,
were discussed. This should be a standard practice in all such cases. In this way, much
unnecessary recycle of information can be avoided.
The following items must also be filled in by the Process Engineer for the initial issue of
the specification sheets. These are listed below and discussed according to subject and
location on the data sheets.
4.3.1

Average (Radiant) Flux Density


(Form E-553-A, Line No. 11)
As the radiant heat flux increases; the tube life decreases, but so does the initial
cost of the heater. The designer must optimize these quantities. Heat flux is
normally based on client specifications or FDI standard practices. Table 2-1
gives some typical radiant fluxes for fired heaters. You should also consult with
the Mechanical Engineering Department's heater group. For our example, we
have chosen a maximum average radiant heat flux of 11,500 Btu/hr ft2
(36.24 kW/m2. This is slightly above the recommended maximum for crude
heaters of 11,000 Btu/hr ft2 (34.66 kW/m2); however, based on experience with
similar crudes, the client preferred such a relatively high flux.

4.3.2

Process Tube Design Temperature and Pressure


(Form E-533-A, Line No. 37-38)
For crude heaters, the design pressure is usually the maximum sustained heater
inlet pressure encountered during normal operations. The design temperature is
normally 50 oF (28 oC) above the maximum tubeskin temperature calculated by
the vendor. For our example, the client agreed to our criteria for design
temperature but stipulated that design pressure must be 50 psi (0.345 MPa)
above normal operating pressure. For our example heater then, the design
pressure is 184 psig (1.269 MPag).

4.3.3

Decoking Pressure and Temperature


(Form E-553-A Line No. 41)
As mentioned in Section 2.0, tube temperatures must be kept below 1,300 oF
(704 oC) during decoking operations. Pressures are normally kept around 10-50
psig (0.069-0.345 MPag).
In our example, we have chosen 30 psig
(0.207 MPag) and 1,250 oF (677 oC) for decoking conditions. Now, we have
already set the design pressure and told the vendor how to set the tube design
temperature. But, we must also let the vendor know the conditions the tubes will
experience during decoking. The tubes must be able to withstand both sets of
conditions.

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4.3.4

Items Included in Scope of Each Heater


(Form E-553-B, Line 1-10)
This section defines what fired heater items (including auxiliaries such as
combustion air and flue gas fans and soot blowers) must be supplied by the
vendor and which items will be supplied by FDI. Usually, FDI and the client will
jointly decide on such details in the early stages of the project.

4.3.5

Site and Utility Data


(Form E-553-B, Line No. 11-17)
At the beginning of a job, the client usually provides this information to FDI. It is
then transmitted to the Process Engineer in the form of job bulletins or in a book
along with other design data.

4.3.6

Fuel Data
(Form E-553-B, Line 18-34)
The client may supply information on fuel types, composition and available
temperature and pressure. Otherwise, the Utilities Engineers develop this
information. For our example, the client specified three fuels, two for the furnace
burners and one for the pilots. No. 2 Fuel Oil is the normal heater fuel. No. 6
Fuel Oil is an alternate fuel. Pipeline natural gas, on the other hand, is the fuel
for the pilots. This is not unusual since for stable operation, the pilots require a
reliable supply of gaseous fuel having constant composition. Table 4-1 gives the
composition and properties of each of these fuels.

4.3.7

Materials of Construction and Corrosion Allowance


In this case, we specified 9 % Cr steel for both the radiant and convection
process tubes. The crude contains 1.8 % by weight sulfur and is thus highly
corrosive. Based on corrosion rates provided by the client, we assigned a
corrosion allowance of 0.2 inches to allow for 100,000 hours of operation. The
Mechanical Engineer will designate the ASTM specification and grade of the
steel for the process tubes and will select the materials of construction for other
parts of the furnace such as the supports, header boxes, etc. You should review
these specifications made by the Mechanical Engineer.
This completes our work on "Revision A" of the specification sheets located in
Section 4.5. The Mechanical Engineer reviews these data sheets and adds
information on metallurgy as we discussed above. Directly behind these initial
specifications are copies of the "Approved for Construction" issue. These
contain all the pertinent detailed information issued by the vendor.

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4.4

AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT
A crude heater is a simple-type direct fired tubular heater as defined in the introduction to
this section. From our discussion so far, you probably realize that a crude heater
basically consists of a radiant and a convection section, a flue stack, burners, internal
piping ducts, and numerous related controllers and indicators. Other related equipment
items, e.g., combustion air fans, are not part of the heater itself even though they may be
supplied by the vendor and their functions may be directly linked to that of the heater.
The auxiliary equipment is basically described in the first section of page 2 of the
specification. In addition, the following items may also be considered auxiliaries.
4.4.1

Decoking Effluent Quench Drum


Receives solid coke and combustion products from the decoking process. The
solid coke is still burning when it reaches this vessel and must be quenched with
water. FDI usually furnishes this system.

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Table 4-1
FURNACE FUEL DATA TRANSMITTED FROM CLIENT
TYPE
OIL

DESCRIPTION

FUEL OIL
No. 2

API

37
o

Viscosity, SSU @ 100 F (38 C)


Temperature at burner, C

NATURAL GAS
(PILOTS ONLY)

35
325
AMB

Net heating value, Btu/lb (kJ/kg)

FUEL OIL
No. 6
14

Viscosity, SSU @ 122 oF (50 oC)


o

GAS

18,400

(42,790)

150

(66)

17,500

(40,700)

75

(24)

55

(0.379)

Hydrogen, Wt. %
Sulfur, Wt. %

0.65

0.7

Vanadium, Wt. ppm

50

Ash. Wt. %

0.15

Vapor pressure, @ 100 oF

NIL

Header pressure, Normal psig (MPag)

100

(0.689)

100

(0.689)

Burner pressure, Normal psig (MPag)

60

(0.414)

60

(0.414)

Composition - mole %
CH4

97

C2H6

C3H8+

N2

1.4

CO2

1.6
3

H2S, Grains/100 SCF (g/Nm )


MW

15

(36)

16.6

LHV Btu/SCF (kJ/Nm3)

882

(34,720)

995

(39,170)

HHV, Btu/SCF (kJ/Nm )

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4.4.2

Emergency Shutdown System


Fluor usually designs the emergency shutdown system for fired heaters. Some
elements such as the flame detector (not used in our example) may be supplied
by the vendor.
You must fill out specification sheets for the major equipment items. The
emergency shutdown system will be shown on the Mechanical Flow Diagram as
a joint effort with Control Systems.

4.5

EXAMPLE SPECIFICATION SHEETS


See attached completed specification sheets (total 19 pages).

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Pages 3 - 8 of the Revision A Specification Sheets are not shown since the only
information the Process Engineer added to them for this example was process
tube metallurgy. In practice, however, you should include these blank data
sheets with your original specification.

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1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0

5.0

STEAM - HYDROCARBON REFORMER


5.1

GENERAL
As we said earlier, the steam-hydrocarbon reformer is a reactor-type fired heater used
primarily to produce synthesis gas (H2 + CO) which in turn is used to produce a variety of
products. In our example, the final product is hydrogen. In this process, methane and/or
heavier paraffin hydrocarbons in the vapor state are mixed with steam and fed to the
reformer tubes (fired heater) containing a nickel catalyst. The process starts with all
heavier hydrocarbons cracking to form methane. The methane then reacts with the
steam to produce hydrogen, CO, and CO2. The main reactions are as follows:
CH4
CH4
CO
CH4

+
+
+
+

H2O
2H2O
H2O
CO2

3H2
4H2
CO2
2CO

+
+
+
+

CO
CO2
H2
2H2

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

The ultimate conversion of methane is determined by thermodynamic equilibrium. The


reactions are endothermic and the conversion of methane is favored by high
temperature.
The reformer effluent usually contains on the order of 10 % CO on a molar basis. To
remove this CO from the reformer product stream and simultaneously increase the
overall yield of hydrogen, two catalytic reactors called shift convertors are used in series
downstream of the reformer. In these reactors, the water-gas reaction (reaction (3)
above) occurs. Concentrations of CO as low as 0.02 % (molar basis) can be achieved at
the outlet of the final shift converter. Refer to Figure 5-1. In this plant the hydrogen is
purified in a pressure swing adsorption system (Option A).
Within practical limits, waste heat recovery from the reactor flue gases and effluent
should be maximized. Therefore, the reformer heat balance usually becomes an integral
part of plant heat and steam balances. Any change then, in the reformer performance
specifications could require revision of the plant heat and steam balances. You must
keep this in mind throughout the project.
5.2

REFORMER CALCULATIONS
5.2.1

Background
The example presented here was a major equipment item in a 50 MMSCFD
(1.34 x 106 Nm3/d) hydrogen plant. The plant was part of a large refinery
modernization designed and built by Fluor Daniel. There are six material balance
cases for the hydrogen plant. Reformer throughput and feed composition
change with each case. The example presented here covers the case for
naphtha feed, the case that sized the reformer, its auxiliaries such as the waste
heat boiler, and most of the other equipment in the Hydrogen Plant.
The naphtha feed in our example has an API gravity of 68 o and a molecular
weight of 73.67. ASTM (D-86) distillation data for the material is given on page 4
of the "Revision A" Specification sheets.

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Figure 5-1
HYDROGEN PLANT
SIMPLIFIED PROCESS FLOW DIAGRAM

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SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Calculations
a.

General
We will present and discuss calculations for the example reformer in the
order in which you should perform them. At appropriate points we will
refer to the reformer specification to show where the results of the
calculations should be filled in.
The example calculations and
appropriate tables and graphs follow this narrative in Section 5.5. You
should refer to these throughout this discussion.

b.

Process Heat and Material Balance


This is actually the first step in the calculation of a steam-hydrocarbon
reformer and of a hydrogen plant in general. This is done using the
computer. In addition to the composition of the feed and its conditions at
the reformer inlet, there are three other key input variables for the
reformer calculation. These concern the reformer operation and are
listed below, along with the values we chose for our example.
Variable
Feed Steam to Carbon Ratio
(Molar Bases)
Reformer Effluent
Temperature
Temperature Approach;
Reforming Reaction

Value
4/1
1,550 OF
50 OF

(848 OC)
(10 OC)

You should refer to Fluor Daniel Process Manual Volume XXVII,


Hydrogen Plant Design, for a discussion of these variables and for
programming instructions for the hydrogen plant material balance
calculation.
The output for our reformer calculation from the computer material
balance is shown in Figure 5-2. The composition, flow, and some
physical characteristics for the reformer effluent are given as well as the
radiant duty. On a molar basis, the reformer outlet stream contains
37.97 % H2, 7.51 % CO, 7.69 % CO2, 45.04 % H2O, and 1.78 %
unreacted CH. The stream has an average molecular weight of 14.66.
Its pressure is 364 psia (2.510 MPaa).

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Figure 5-2
RESULTS FROM COMPUTER MATERIAL BALANCE REFORMER CALCULATION

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The "radiant" duty of the reformer is 229.64 MM Btu/hr (67.35 MW).


This is actually the absorbed duty, i.e., the duty required by the process
fluid to undergo the physical and chemical changes we have specified.
Note that the computer has calculated a reformer process outlet
temperature of 1,570 oF (854 oC). The value we initially chose 1,550 oF
(843 oC) was too low for our particular application.
5.2.3

Heat Recovery Scheme


Since the process temperature exiting the reformer is so high (1,570 oF (854 oC)
in our case), the heat content of the flue gas going to the convection section is
much larger than for most fired heaters. The manner in which this heat is
recovered is one of the main differences in various plant designs. You, as a
Process Engineer, are responsible for specifying the heat recovery scheme for
the reformer and for the unit in general. You must look at heat recovery from the
process streams as well as from the furnace flue gases.
The amount of heat available for recovery from the process streams can be
readily found. One needs only to examine the duties of the various process heat
exchangers as given in the computer heat and material balance calculation. The
radiant duty of the reformer is also found here and with it the heat recovery in the
convection section of the furnace can be estimated. A key factor in making
these estimates is the radiant efficiency of the furnace, defined as: Radiant
duty/total Btu fired x 100. This ratio is very close to 47-48 % in most reformer
furnace designs. Thus, the fired duty can be readily estimated. It is practical,
and advisable, to design for overall thermal efficiencies of 83-88 %. The heat
available for recovery in the convection section is given by the following equation
that we introduced in Section 2.0:
Overall Thermal Efficiency

1
Convection Duty = (Radiant Duty)

Radiant Efficiency

Alternately, you could use a computer program. The program should calculate
the fired duty, combustion air flow, fuel usage, and radiant efficiency for given
conditions of radiant duty, and preheat air temperature. It is especially useful if
the reformer convection heat balance requires a trial and error solution as is the
case in our example.
Before we discuss this calculation any further, let's look at the heat recovery
scheme we devised for our example. This is shown in Figure 5-3.

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Figure 5-3
HYDROGEN PLANT STEAM BALANCE/HEAT RECOVERY SCHEME

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Reformer effluent gas is used to make steam in the waste heat boiler and is then
sent on to the High Temperature Shift Reactor (HTS). From here the process
gas goes to the Low Temperature Shift Reactor (LTS) where it is cooled against
boiler feed water both as it enters and leaves this reactor. This heated boiler
feed water goes to a vessel called a steam drum. The steam drum operates at
650 psig (4.482 MPag) and 498 oF (259 oC) (saturation conditions). There are
two water circulation loops in operation here. Saturated water from the steam
drum passes through the waste heat boiler and a steam/water mixture returns to
the drum via natural circulation. Circulation pumps send another stream of
saturated water through furnace convection coil No. 3 and a saturated mixture is
then returned to the drum. Steam from the drum is superheated in convection
coils Number 1 and 2. From coil No. 2, steam at 750 oF (399 oC) is sent to the
plant 600 psig (4.137 MPag) steam system. From coil No. 1 superheated steam
at 817 oF (436 oC) is mixed with naphtha vapor in the feed to the reformer. The
molar steam to carbon ratio of the mixture is 4/1 as discussed in Section 5.2.2b,
Process Heat and Material Balance. The heat from the steam raises the
temperature of the combined feed to 800 oF (427 oC). Now that we understand
the flow paths of the Hydrogen Plant steam balance, let's proceed with the
calculations.
5.2.4

Reformer Steam Balance and Air Preheat Duty


In our example, the client placed the following two stipulations on the reformer
convection heat recovery:
The furnace flue gas must not be cooled below 325 oF (163 oC). One of
the fuels for this furnace contains 0.3 % sulfur by weight. As we
discussed in Section 2.6, some of this sulfur ends up as SO3 in the flue
gas. If sufficiently cooled, the SO3 combines with condensing moisture
in the stack to form aqueous H2SO4. The acid dew point for our example
reformer lies in the range 275 oF to 300 oF (135 oC to 149 oC). The
required flue gas outlet temperature of 325 oF (163 oC) will thus ensure
that no acid condenses in the stack.
The minimum approach temperature for the steam generation coil (coil
We generate saturated steam at
No. 3) will be 50 oF (28 oC).
approximately 500 oF (260 oC) in this coil and in the process must not
cool the stack gas below 550 oF (288 oC) at this point.
Now, how do these considerations affect our calculations? First, the heat
available for air preheat is that available from the flue gas as it cools from 550 oF
(288 oC) to 325 oF (163 oC). The heat available from the flue gas then depends
strictly on its flowrate up the stack. The flue gas flowrate depends on the fired
duty depends on the radiant duty, the radiant efficiency and the combustion air
preheat temperature. And, the air preheat temperature depends on how much
heat is available from the flue gas and on the combustion air flow itself. And
there you have it, a trial and error calculation is required.

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Let's go through the calculation scheme and look at the results for the 400 oF
(204 oC) air preheat case:
Program the computer to perform the Furnace Calculation. Fix the
radiant duty (229.64 MM Btu/hr) (67.35 MW), the percent excess air
(10 %), the fuel gas properties and the flue gas temperature leaving the
radiant section (1,900 oF (1,038 oC), a reasonable estimate). Increment
the air preheat temperature and allow the air flow and fuel flow to vary.
The output for our example is shown in Figure 5-4 A&B.
Using the computer output (Figure 5-4 A&B), plot the flue gas cooling
curve for each case, as shown in Figure 5-5.
Calculate the Hydrogen Plant steam balance for each case as shown in
the example hand calculations at the end of this subsection. The results
for our example are summarized below.
Coil

Flow lb/hr (kg/hr)

Duty MM Btu/hr (MW)

#1 - Steam to Process

176,500 (80,060)

39.38 (11.54)

#2 - Steam Superheat

169,900 (77,070)

29.78 ( 8.73)

#3 - Steam Generation

213,800 (96,980)

153.27 (44.91)

Total boiler feedwater import = 349,000 lb/hr (158,300 kg/hr)


Plot the duties of each reformer convection coil on the same plot as the
corresponding flue gas cooling curve. See Figure 5-5.
From the plot determine the amount of heat available in the flue gas for
air preheat. For our example, 34 MM Btu/hr (9.97 MW) are available.
Determine an average heat capacity for air and over the temperature
range from 40 oF (4.4 oC) (our designated air intake temperature) up to
the air preheat temperature. Data is available in such references as the
Handbook of Tables for Applied Engineering Science. For our example,
the average heat capacity for air over the range of 40 oF (4.4 oC) to
400 oF (204 oC) is 0.2293 Btu/lb oF (0.94 kJ/kg oC). (Alternately, you
could plot an enthalpy versus temperature heating curve for air over the
appropriate temperature range.)
Now, using the combustion air flow the computer printout, calculate the
heat required to raise the temperature of the intake air to the
corresponding air preheat temperature. If this duty matches that
determined from flue gas cooling curve, then you have arrived at the
solution. As you can see from the calculations, this is the case we have
shown here.

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Using the information from the foregoing calculations, we can fill in the following
items on page 2 of "Revision A" of the Steam-HC Reformer Specification Sheets
(Form E-522-B):
Line Number
1-3

Description
Description of coils in Convection
Section

Coil Duties

Fluid in Each Coil

13-21

Fluid Conditions at Inlet of Each Coil

23-31

Fluid Conditions of Outlet of Each


Coil

Note that we are instructing the vendor to specify various parameters for the air
preheat coil even though we have calculated some of these already. Thermal
and Mechanical design of this part of the reformer (or any furnace for that
matter) is the responsibility of the vendor. Although we are reasonably confident
of our results, we can, in this way, use the vendor's numbers as a check. Note
also that we specifically gave the vendor permission to vary our steam flows and
duties if greater furnace efficiency will result. Furnace designers have developed
numerous proprietary designs for tubular heaters to make efficient use of fuel
and provide satisfactory and economic mechanical design. In short, we wish to
take advantage of the vendor's greater knowledge of heater design.
There are still some items on the reformer specification sheets that we have not
yet filled in. These are covered in the next part of this section entitled
Specification Sheets.

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Figure 5-4A
RESULTS FORM COMPUTER FURNACE (STACK GAS) CALCULATION
400 oF AIR PREHEAT CASE 2

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Figure 5-4B
RESULTS FROM COMPUTER FURNACE (STACK GAS) CALCULATION

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Figure 5-5
STACK GAS COOING CURVE/CONVECTION HEAT DUTIES

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5.3

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

SPECIFICATION SHEETS
Using the information from the computer calculations, we can fill in the following items on
the first page of "Revision A" the Steam-HC Reformer Specification Sheets (Form
E-522-A): Note that specification sheets must be filled out for each of the six cases of
the material balance (refer to the "background" part of this subsection).
Line Number

Description

Client Name

2&7

Radiant Duty

Reformer Effluent Flow

Pressure Drop Through the Tubes

13

Inlet Steam and Hydrocarbon


Flowrates/Outlet Flowrate

14

Steam, Hydrocarbon, and Effluent


Average Molecular Weight

15

Inlet/Outlet Temperatures

16

Inlet/Outlet Pressures

18-30

Inlet Hydrocarbon and Effluent


Composition

In this part of our discussion, we will complete filling out "Revision A" of the reformer
specification sheets and will present these along with the final "Approved for
Construction" version of these data sheets for our example in Section 5.5. You should
note that in this case the Mechanical Engineer assigned to fired heaters made no
changes to the "Revision A" data sheets. There are probably two reasons for this. First,
as mentioned in the introduction to this section, Fluor Daniel specifies the performance of
a fired heater while the furnace vendor actually does the mechanical design. Further, a
steam-hydrocarbon reformer is a highly specialized piece of equipment. Even such
details as tube and fitting metallurgy, normally specified by the Mechanical Engineer, are
usually left up to the vendor. The Mechanical Engineer monitors and checks the
vendor's work throughout the design on behalf of both Fluor Daniel and the client. He or
she will keep the Process engineer abreast of any changes recommended by the vendor
and will assist in revising the specification sheets as needed. Second, the Process
Engineer consulted with his counterpart in the Mechanical Department during the initial
specifications of the heater. Such matters as basic furnace configuration, convection
heat recovery, equipment items included in the scope, etc., were discussed. This should
be a standard practice in all such cases. In this way much unnecessary recycle of
information can be avoided.

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The following items must also be filled in by the Process Engineer for the initial issue of
the specification sheets. These are listed below and discussed according to subject and
location on the data sheets.
5.3.1

Average (Radiant) Flux Density


(Form E-522-A, Line No. 10)
Most large reforming furnaces are designed on the assumption that heat transfer
is the rate limiting mechanism of the process, rather than catalytic activity.
Table 2-1 gives some typical radiant fluxes for steam-hydrocarbon reformers.
For our example, we have chosen an average radiant heat flux of 20,000 Btu/hr
ft2 (63.0 kW/m2). You should note that adequate catalytic rate data over the full
range of conditions encountered in reforming is not available. You should,
therefore, choose a conservative heat transfer rate in specifying a reformer.

5.3.2

Reformer Catalyst Data


(Form E-522-A, Line No. 31-35)
Here we have indicated that the furnace vendor will specify this information.
Actually, the furnace vendor will in turn consult a catalyst vendor for this
information.

5.3.3

Process and Convection Coil Design Temperature and Pressure


(Form E-522-A, Line No. 36-38 and Form E-522-B, Line No. 34-35
In this case, we set the process tube design pressure at 430 psig (2.965 MPag),
25 psig (0.172 MPag) above the highest normal operating pressure. For the
design temperature, we chose 1,620 oF (882 oC), 50 oF (28 oC) above the highest
normal operating temperature. For the steam-feed preheat coil, the design
conditions of 500 psig (3.447 MPag) and 1,210 oF (654 oC) are 10 % greater than
the highest respective operating values. The design conditions for the steam
superheat coil (725 psig (4.998 MPag) and 920 oF (493 oC)) and the design
temperature for the steam generation coil (650 oF) (343 oC) are the same as for
the respective plant systems they tie into. Notice that we instructed the vendor
to specify the design pressure for the steam generation coil. In this case, we
control the outlet pressure. The back pressure at the inlet will depend on the two
phase hydraulics in the coil.

5.3.4

Items Included in Scope of Each Heater


(Form E-522-C, Line No. 1-13)
This section defines what reformer items (including auxiliaries such as
combustion air and flue gas fans and the waste heat boiler) must be supplied by
the vendor and which ones will be supplied by FDI. Usually FDI and the client
will jointly decide on such details in the early stages of the project.

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5.3.5

SECTION
FIRED HEATERS

Site and Utility Data


(Form E-522-C, Line No. 15-22)
At the beginning of the job, the client usually provides this information to FDI. It
is then transmitted to the Process Engineer in the form of job bulletins or in a
book along with other design data.

5.3.6

Fuel Data
(Form E-522-C, Line No. 25-41)
The client may supply information on fuel types, composition, and available
temperature and pressure. Otherwise, the Utilities Engineer will have to develop
this information. For our example, we have specified three fuels: purge gas
natural gas, fuel oil. Each of these is discussed below.
a.

Purge Gas
Purge gas is a waste gas stream from the H2 product purification step.
As per client preference, we indicated to the vendor that all available
purge gas will always be fired. Natural gas or fuel oil will supplement the
purge gas.
On a molar basis, purge gas contains 63.55 % CO2, 26.89 % H2, 7.58 %
CH4, 1.2 % CO, 0.78 % H2O. It has a molecular weight of 30.20, an
HHV of 168 Btu/SCF (6,610 kJ/Nm3), and an LHV of 146 Btu/SCF
(5,750 kJ/Nm3). We will deliver the purge gas to the burners at 2 psig
(0.014 MPag) and 100 oF (38 oC). Its design flowrate is 30.84 MMSCFD
(826 x 103 Nm3/d).

b.

Natural Gas
This is pipeline natural gas containing 92.55 % methane, 1.31 % C2H4
and 5.81 % nitrogen, all on a molar basis. Other components, present in
small amounts, include He, CO2, and C3H8. The total sulfur content
including H2S and organically bonded sulfur is 20 ppm. The gas has a
molecular weight of 16.9, and HHV of 963 Btu/SCF (37,900 kJ/Nm3), and
an LHV of 865 Btu/SCF (34,000 kJ/Nm3). We will deliver it to the
burners at 20 psig (0.138 MPag) and at temperatures ranging from 40 oF
(4.4 oC) to 100 oF (38 oC), depending on the season of the year.

c.

Fuel Oil
The fuel oil for our example has an API gravity of 27 o and lower and
higher heating values of 18,100 Btu/lb (42,100 kJ/kg) and 19,240 Btu/lb,
(44,750 kJ/kg) respectively. It contains 0.3 % sulfur by weight, but has
negligible amounts of vanadium, sodium and ash. We will deliver it to
the burners at 60 oF (16 oC) and provide atomizing steam at 250 psig
(1.724 MPag) and 450 oF (232 oC). ASTM (D-86) distillation data for the
oil is given on page 4 of the specification sheets.

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PROCESS MANUAL

This completes our work on "Revision A" of the steam-HC Reformer


Specification Sheets located at the end of this narrative. Directly behind
these initial specifications are copies of the "Approved for Construction"
issue. These contain all of the pertinent detailed information issued by
the vendor.
5.4

AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT
Early in our discussion, we defined a reformer as a reactor-type direct fired tubular
heater. We went on to talk about the reforming process and how our example reformer
fits into the overall process scheme of a hydrogen plant. From the context of our
discussion, you should have realized that a reformer consists of a radiant and a
convection section, a flue stack, burners, internal piping and ducts, and numerous related
controllers and indicators. Other related equipment items, e.g., the combustion air fans,
are not part of the reformer itself even though they may be supplied by the reformer
vendor and their functions may be directly linked top that of the reformer. The auxiliary
equipment is basically described in the first section on page 3 of the Specification
Sheets. In addition, the emergency shutdown system may be considered an auxiliary.
Fluor Daniel usually designs the emergency shutdown system for fired heaters. Some
elements, however, such as the flame detector may be supplied by the vendor.

5.5

EXAMPLE CALCULATIONS AND SPECIFICATION SHEETS


5.5.1

Example Calculation for Overall System Heat Balance


a.

Calculate Coil #1 Duty and Steam Outlet Temperature


Mix steam with naphtha so that resulting temperature of mixed
feed to reformer = 800 oF
Duty required to heat Naphtha alone to 800 oF = 3.46 MM Btu
hr
(From computer Heat and Material balance)
Steam to Coil #1
Inlet
P = 668 psia (Sat'd)
T = 493 oF
H = 1,202.5 Btu/lb

H@ 800 oF = 1,406 Btu/lb

Flow = 176,516 lb/hr

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Total Duty = 3.46 x 106 + 176,516 (1,406 - 1,202.5)


= 39.38 x 106 Btu/hr

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Now, what is steam temperature as it leaves Coil #1?


6
Enthalpy = 39.38 x 10 Btu/hr 1,202.5 = 1,425.6 Btu/lb
176, 516 lb/hr

Steam from Coil #1


P _ 407 psia
T = 817 oF
b.

Calculate Stack Heat Available for Coils #2 and 3


Total Heat Available
For Coils 1, 2 and 3

= 22.5 x 106 Btu/hr


= (cool flue gas from 1,900 oF to 550 oF, 400 oF
air preheat)

Heat Available

= 222.5 x 106 - 39.38 x 106 = 183.12 x 106


Btu/hr

Heat In
1.

Waste Heat Boiler


Duty = 111.79 MM Btu/hr

2.

LTS Inlet Cooler


Duty = 28.2 MM Btu/hr

3.

Boilerfeed Water (BFW)


lb/hr
T = 225 oF @ Pump Discharge
H = 194.76 Btu/lb

4.

LTS Outlet Cooler


T = 380 oF Outlet => H = 354.4 Btu/lb
Duty - (354.4 - 194.76)

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5.

Coil #3
Total Duty = 183.12 x 106 Btu/hr
Coils 2&3
Duty Coil #2 = ( - 0.01 - 176,500) 1,377.8
lb/hr
Btu/lb
Duty Coil #3

= 183.12 x 106 - ( - 0.01 - 176,500) 1,377.8


= 426.302 x 106 - 1,364.02
Heat Out
1.

Steam to Coil #1
176,500 lb/hr
H = 1,202.5 Btu/hr

2.

Blowdown
O.01 lb/hr
H = 485.6 Btu/lb

Heat in = Heat Out


(354.4 - 194.76) + 28.2 x 106 + 111.79 x 106 + 194.76 +

426.302 x 106 - 1,364.02 = (176,500 ) (1202.5) + 0.01 (485.6)


354.4 - 1,364.02 + 566.292 x 106 = 212.2413 x 106 + 4.856
354.0508 x 106 = 1,014.48
348,997 lb/hr = = BFW flow
Use 349,000 lb/hr
Heat In
1.

BFW, 349,000 lb/hr @ 435.89 Btu/lb

2.

Coil #3 Steam
lb/hr
H = 1,202.5 Btu/lb

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3.

Steam from Waste Heat Boiler (WHB)


111.79 x 10 6 Btu/hr = 155,935 lb/hr
1, 202.5 485.6 Btu/lb

Flow

= 1,202.5 Btu/lb

Heat Out
1.

Blowdown
3,490 lb/hr
H = 485.6 Btu/lb

2.

H2OL to WHB
155,935 lb/hr
H = 485.6 Btu/lb

3.

H2OL to Coil #3
lb/hr

4.

Steam to Coils # 1 & 2


Flow
= (349,000 - 3,490) lb/hr
= 345,510 lb/hr
H
= 1,202.5 Btu/hr

Heat In = Heat Out


(349,000) (435.89) + (155,935 + ) (1,202.5) =
(3,490) (485.6) + (155,935 + ) (485.6) + (345,510) (1,202.5)
339.637 x 106 + 1,202.5 = 492.893 x 106 + 485.6
= 213,774 lb/hr flow to coil #3
Use 213,800 lb/hr

Coil #3 Duty
Duty = (213,800) (1,202.5 - 485.6) = 153.27 x 106 Btu/hr
lb/hr
Btu/lb
Coil #2 Flow/Duty
Flow = 349,900 - 3,490 - 176,500 = 169,910 lb/hr
Use
169,900 lb/hr
Duty = 169,900 (1,377.8 - 1,202.5) = 29.78 x 106 Btu/hr

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Heat in Flue Gas for Air Preheat


H = 34 MM Btu/hr
Heat Required for Air Preheat to 400 oF
From computer furnace calculation flow = 14,209.23 Mole air/hr
MW = 28.9
Flow = 410,647 lb air/hr
From data for air in handbook of tables for applied Engineering Science,
Cp Avg. = 0.2293 Btu/lb oF
Temperature Range: 40 - 400 oF
Humidity: 25 %
Now to heat combination air from 40 oF to 400 oF,
H = (410,647) (400-40) (0.2295) = 33.90 x 106 Btu/hr
o
FBtu/lb oF
lb/hr

33.90 x 106 matches close to 33.38 x 106 Btu/hr used initially.


5.5.2

Example Specification Sheet


See attached completed specification sheets
(Total 38 pages)

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Pages 5 - 10 of the Revision A specification sheets (Forms E-522D - I) are not


shown since the Process Engineer did not add any information to them in this
example. In practice, however, you should include these blank data sheets with
your original specification sheets.

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MATERIALS OF CONSTRUCTION

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2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0

6.0

MATERIALS OF CONSTRUCTION
6.1

TUBE MATERIALS
The Mechanical Engineer generally chooses the heater tube material. You should review
his or her choice to be sure you agree with it. The Mechanical Engineer selects a given
material based on its ability to withstand the temperature and pressure of the particular
service. Temperature, however, is of primary consideration in choosing the right tube
material. Some typical applications are summarized below:
Maximum Tube Wall Temperature
o

700 - 850 F
o

900 - 1,200 F
o

Material

Carbon steel

Low chrome-moly alloys

(371 - 454 C)
(482 - 649 C)

1,200 - 1,350 F

(649 - 732 C)

18-8 stainless steels (Types


304,321, 347, 316 & 317)

1,500 - 1,800 oF

(816 - 982 oC)

20-30 chrome-nickel steels

Choosing a material for furnace tube application must balance tube cost against tube life.
Often, shorter tube life may be more economical than expensive alloy tubes. Sometimes
it is economical to use different tube materials in the radiant and convection sections;
however, welding problems may occur with dissimilar alloys. The desired tube life is
generally 100,000 hours. This equals 11.4 years at 8,760 hours per year. Figure 6-1
gives data for furnace tube design stress for different steels over some commonly
encountered operating temperature ranges. Information on the relative cost of these
steels is included.
Sometimes process considerations require special tube metallurgy. In that case, the
Process Engineer should select the tube material. The following important items related
to corrosion or service problems come up frequently in process furnaces. They influence
material selection and the Process Engineer should always consider them.
Hydrogen service
Sulfur/H2S service
Vanadium and sodium
Carbon deposits
Carbide precipitation
Graphitization
Carburization
Oxidation
Stress corrosion cracking

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Figure 6-1
FURNACE TUBE DESIGN STRESSES AND RELATIVE COSTS

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UTILITY REQUIREMENTS

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6.0

7.0

UTILITY REQUIREMENTS
In the early stages of a project you must estimate the utilities required for the fired heater you are
specifying. The estimates are a necessary part of both the furnace calculations and the plant
utility balance. The utilities you must consider include fuel, steam or electricity and boiler feed
water. Fuel consumption is estimated through stoichiometry calculations. These can be done by
hand or by using the Furnace Calculation Program on the computer. Refer to Section 2.6 and
Section 5.2 for further discussion of this program. For mechanical draft furnaces, you must
estimate the steam or electric consumption of the drivers for the forced and induced draft fans.
Hydraulic horsepower and efficiencies for the drivers are needed. Refer to the section in this
manual on motors and drivers for guidance. For those heaters where steam is generated in the
convection section, you must estimate the boiler feedwater requirements and the power or steam
consumption of the accompanying pumps. Note that the amount of boiler feed water required is
influenced by both the amount of recoverable heat in the flue gas and by the demand for the
steam to be produced.

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FIRED HEATERS
REFERENCES, CODES AND STANDARDS

1.0

1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0

8.0

REFERENCES, CODES AND STANDARDS


8.1

REFERENCES
1.

*Berman, Herbert L., Fired Heaters-I, Finding the basic design for your
application; Chemical Engineering, June 19, 1978.

2.

*Berman, Herbert L., Fired Heaters-II, Construction, Materials, Mechanical


Features, Performance Monitoring, Chemical Engineering, July 31, 1978.

3.

*Berman, Herbert L., Fired Heaters-III, How Combustion Conditions Influence


Design and Operation; Chemical Engineering, August 14, 1978.

4.

*Berman, Herbert L., Fired Heaters-IV, How to Reduced your Fuel Bill, Chemical
Engineering, September 11, 1978.

5.

*Wimpress, Norman, Generalized Method Predicts Fired-Heater Performance.


Chemical Engineering, May 22, 1978.

6.

* Neal, James E. and Clark, Roger S., Saving Heat Energy in Refractory-Lined
Equipment; Chemical Engineering, May 4, 1981.

7.

* Frankel, Irwin, Shortcut Calculation for Flue Gas Volume, Chemical Engineering,
June 1, 1981.

8.

Finnie, L, Hydrocarbon Processing and Petroleum Refiner; Volume 42; page


155; 1963

9.

Krebs; T.M.' Hydrocarbon Processing and Petroleum Refiner, Volume 41; page
135, 1962.

10.

Kern, D.Q., Process Heat Transfer, Chapter 19, Furnace Calculations.

11.

Nelson, W.L., Petroleum Refinery Engineering, Chapter 18, Tubestill Heaters.

12.

Rickerman, J. H., Heater Designs for the Petroleum Industry, Transactions of the
A.S.M.E., October, 1945.

13.

Maker, F.L., Flashflow Pressure Drop in Heaters; Petroleum Refiner, Volume 34,
No. 11; November, 1955, p.140.

14.

Gallagher, J.T., Cost of Direct Fired Heaters, Chemical Engineering, July 17,
1967, p.232

* Indicates that a copy of the reference is included in Section 9.0.

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REFERENCES, CODES AND STANDARDS

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8.2

CODES AND STANDARDS


The following list of codes and standards provides basic information about fired heaters
for Process Engineers.
FDI Process Training Manual
FDi Process Design Criteria Manual. (Volume 87)
API Standard 560, Fired Heaters for General Refinery Service, 1986 API RP533 Air
Preheat Systems for Fired Process Heaters, 1986.
API RP 530; Recommended Practice for Calculation of Heater Tube Thickness in
Petroleum Refineries, 1988.
API RP 531M, Measurement of Noise from Fired Process Heaters, (Metric Only), First
Edition, 1980.
FDI Specification SP-00000-45-1, "Fired Heaters." (Review this specification before final
issue of your first specification.)
ASME Boiler Code and Boiler Codes.
Special Regulations within the U.S.
Customer Standards. (These are incorporated into FDI's Narrative Specification and the
overall specification is normally approved by the customer.)

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REFERENCE ARTICLES

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2.0
3.0
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5.0
6.0
7.0
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9.0

REFERENCE ARTICLES
Included in this section are copies of articles identified in Section 8.1 from 1. through 7.

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