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Glass Melt Tank Thermal Surveys - A Starter to Reduce CO2 Footprint and Energy Savings

In 2017, AMETEK Land and leading glass manufacturer Encirc won the Innovative Solution category at the Glass Focus Awards for real-time, in-furnace thermal imaging using Near Infrared Borescope (NIR-B) Glass to optimise furnace operations and combustion optimisation.

NIR-B-GlassThis was our first step in the decarbonisation of oil or natural gas-fired glass furnaces; however, we didn’t specifically use the term decarbonisation at the time.

With all the knowledge acquired since then, plus the launch of a transportable version of the highly respected NIR-B thermal imaging solution for thermal surveys and optimisation, could we consider this a starter to reduce CO2 footprint and energy savings?

Since 2014 the NIR-B has been commercially available and installed in glass furnaces with retraction mechanisms. In addition, it has been used without retraction as a transportable version for demonstrations and surveys for temporary insertion through furnace peep sights.

While glass furnaces can have refractory operating temperatures over 1600°C, the flames are even higher.  In its transportable version, the NIR-B can be used as part of a furnace heat-up or cool-down.

Using a borescope lens protected by a cooled housing, the NIR-B can be inserted into any peephole, spare burner block, or other convenient aperture in a furnace or exhaust. The ultra-wide-angle lens gives an industry-leading crystal-clear unique view into the glass melt tank or heat recovery.

Using our image processing software, the transportable NIR-B (2K version) records 3 million pixels real-time temperature measurements and the data is then converted to form a visual image used for analysis and reporting.

The NIR-B is a radiometric thermal camera offering calibrated, traceable temperature measurements that are directly comparable with the industry-standard Cyclops C100L portable single point thermometer used by operators worldwide to monitor and confirm furnace temperature.  

Our glass engineers are available to supervise installation and gather the required data to provide a thermal survey report that can identify hot spots to prevent damage to refractory due to overheating and cold spots to identify air ingress and potential for corrosive alkali formation.

In collaboration with our partners, we can also provide additional, advanced services using the thermal imager data from the NIR-B for furnace optimisation, troubleshooting and process development. 

The thermal imaging solution has been successfully used to assess and monitor many aspects of the glass melting process, including: -  

Melt Tank / Furnace control

  • Shoot a full-length optical profile, accurately locating the position of the thermal profile and hotspot.
  • Comparing right side to left side-firing for imbalance.
  • Energy distribution and flame impingement.
  • Validation of CFD model for design and predictive control.
  • Regenerator, recuperator and/or heat exchanger condition and efficiency (flow distribution).
  • Electric boost location, operation and optimisation.
  • Foam line monitoring and optimisation of the process.
  • Bubbler monitoring and optimisation.

Campaign Life Asset Protection and Extension

  • Crown, walls, port arch and regenerator temperature.
  • High and low temperature.
  • Long term temperature trending (repeated surveys over furnace life).
  • Movement and degradation of refractories, including expansion joints.
  • Metal line temperatures (over cooling – effect on batch distribution).
  • Exhaust and heat recovery devices/.

Glass Production Efficiency and Throughput

  • Batch line monitoring and batch carryover.
  • Batch transit time and temperature of the blanket.
  • Batch velocity vectors using time-lapse.
  • Batch charger optimisation and troubleshooting.

Energy Efficiency & Emissions Reduction

  • Optimising the flame pattern and burn angles and efficiency.
  • Enhanced temperature “visualisation” of cold spots in the refractory wall indicating air leaks caused by structural issues.
  • Flame intensity monitoring to optimise energy input and reduce NOx.

By successfully developing a thermal imaging solution for high-temperature processes, the NIR-B can be applied to many different furnace and kiln types - steel reheat, cement, aluminium reverb, non-ferrous rotary, fossil-fired boilers including electrical generation, and refinery heaters – all with temperatures above 500°C.

In conclusion, what is valid for glass furnace application could apply to other furnaces using the transportable thermal imaging solution for thermal surveys to reduce COfootprint and energy savings.

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