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Using Transportable NIR-B-2K Imager for Thermal Surveys and Combustion Optimisation to Reduce Energy

In this blog, I will explain how the NIR-B-2K thermal imager could be used as a transportable device to reinforce thermal optimisation of furnaces and in-furnace thermal glass surveys that provide essential insights into thermal processes to reduce energy and emissions. 

This blog partially references the article written in the Glass International Magazine August 2022 Edition where an in-furnace thermal survey was carried out to reduce energy and emissions on a large float regenerative furnace with the transportable NIR-B-2K.

As everyone in the industry is aware, glass melt tanks are enormously energy-intensive, and experience the highest temperatures of the glass production process. Thermal monitoring of the tank helps ensure the efficiency of the melt process and maintain consistent glass quality.

Combining near-infrared borescope thermal imaging with portable multi-gas analysis, in-furnace surveys deliver accurate, real-time measurements to increase efficiency, productivity, and asset life in glass production.

The Near-Infrared Borescope (NIR-B) imaging camera was developed by AMETEK Land in 2012. Since then, more than 100 NIR-B thermal imagers have been installed for a wide range of businesses across the globe.

In 2020 AMETEK Land launched the new NIR-B-2K (high-definition) model of the NIR-B, which now offers 3 million points of measurements.  This is equivalent to 3 million of AMETEK Land’s Industry Standard Cyclops portable pyrometers measuring continuously. 

The initial glass surveys were simply demonstrations, where an NIR-B was installed in a peep hole in the bridge wall, as close to a preferred CCTV camera location as possible. One major glass manufacturer suggested that it may be beneficial to look in other peep holes too. 

It was only in 2019 when we were struggling with flame optimisation for NOx in a glass furnace that the first full survey was performed by AMETEK Land, this time including the regenerators. 

Recently, a high-quality float glass manufacturer attended Neil Simpsons combustion training courses and saw the potential for a survey as part of their on-going asset protection plan. 

The purpose of the survey is generally confidential; however, previous reasons for such a survey include asset protection, quality/yield issues, energy reduction and environmental.  The measured data can be used for validation of computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modelling, and it is often best to consider the analysis in a similar way to interpreting a CFD model.

On a float survey, it is typical to start at the waist and on the side closest to the control room, to know the time of the furnace reversal. If there is a skimming pocket, then this is the best initial position to check signals before moving to the bridge wall peep hole, which is typically at a slightly higher elevation.  

The skimming pocket typically gives a good view of the walls and is the best location for measuring the glass temperature using AMETEK Land’s patented reflection compensation method. With sufficient manpower, it is possible to survey the four corner locations in the furnace on the first day.  

It is important to obtain the temperature when the flame immediately goes out. This is the highest temperature, since during the flame-out much of the temperature is lost. However, it is a calibrated temperature, since when the flame is present the emissivity is unknown.  

The view from the waist is usually the best summary view, as this will show the suspended back or charging wall and whether it is symmetrical or closer to the firing or exhaust side. It should be possible to see all the ports clearly on the opposite side and highlight which port is the hottest.  With the NIR-B-2K and the IMAGEPro Software, there is the potential to zoom in by 1600%, enabling refractory inspection for hot spots, cold spots including holes, and areas at risk of NaOH attack. 

The worst-case scenario is a hole which requires welding. The zoom function enables users to zoom in on an existing thermocouple block location and highlight it as a region of interest (ROI) to verify temperature.    

The survey of the regenerators and target wall revealed that there was refractory damage to the regenerator checker pack. A lifting or heaving of the pack had created an internal by-pass flue which resulted in too much air going down one side of port 4 on the right-hand side. 

The burner being used was a water-cooled through-port burner which, typically, has the most adjustment, but with an in-balance of air the flame was deflected downwards. The survey was performed in 2019 using the original NIR-B-656 with 324,000 points of measurement.  

When the burners are firing, the indicated temperatures are not real, since we do not know the emissivity of the flames.  The application of relative isotherms offers the ability to see which flames are typically hotter and give an indication of the flame length.  Generally, the higher the temperature the greater the risk of dissociating oxygen and forming thermal NOx, which is dominant in glass melting furnaces. While a flue gas analyser such as AMETEK Land’s Lancom 4 can show which exhaust ports have the highest NOx, it may not indicate which of the burners is generating the most NOx. 

When the NIR-B survey camera located in the target wall peep hole, there is the opportunity to look at the flames (not shown) from both the firing side and the exhaust side to see the “cause and effect”. Typically, the integrator function (not shown) is best to use, since it averages the frames to indicate the dominant flows. While this was zoomed in to look at the flames, the 100% view (not shown) would allow inspection of the regenerator to check that a blockage is not creating the imbalance. 

On a regenerative furnace, it is typical to take one optical measurement when the flame immediately goes out. If you were to take a Cyclops measurement every 20 minutes, you could take 72 point measurements in one day – so 36 on each side. It would take more than 24 years to get the image provided by one NIR-B-656, and 220 years to get the equivalent of a NIR-B-2K.

Based on in furnace thermal survey for large furnaces, the NIR-B-2K could be used in any glass furnaces whatever the technologies deployed ( regenerative - recuperative - oxy gas with CGM burners as well).

Always the same goals for smaller furnaces compared to largest where key features of the furnaces are adequate insulation, good sealing to minimize air in leakage, excellent heat recovery from efficient regenerators, a well-designed doghouse and charging system, and an accurate control system. 

Temperature measurements are becoming more and more important for the energy efficiency and operations of glass furnaces to achieve the emission and energy goals.
Combining the handheld pyrometer Cyclops C100L and the NIR-B is the perfect match for balancing the furnaces and get some energy savings.

The Cyclops C100L is one of the most widely used and respected portable pyrometers in the world, is used to measure the crown temperature during the reversal cycle when the flame is not present.

It is also used to make a once per shift measurement across or between the port arches (depending on the furnace type). The target wall on the regenerator is also seen as being a good indicator of gas temperature, so Cyclops is also used  to measure here. Rugged and reliable, it can be fitted with a heat-resistant cover and measures between 550-3000°C (1022-5432°F). 

For routine spot checks and shooting optical profiles through peep holes for port arch or crown measurements, the industry standard Cyclops C100L(2F) is in common use offering repeatable, reliable, and calibrated traceable temperature measurement.  

Many large glass companies have invested in their own transportable NIR-B for their in-house survey teams. This offers the opportunity to have their technicians to send .erfx files to their refractory and combustion experts as well as validating in-house CFD models. AMETEK Land also has some limited rental units available for hire. Typically, most customers start with a survey performed by Mark Briggs, Global Field Service Engineer – Glass, or one of AMETEK Land’s survey team.

In conclusion, an in-furnace thermal glass survey is a valuable supplement to traditional refractory inspections. It helps glass producers to identify ways to improve productivity with optimized pull rates, increase their thermal and combustion efficiency, extend campaign life and asset refractory protection, reduce energy consumption by optimizing the flame pattern, and ensure emissions compliance.

Transportable NIR-B-2K - Philippe Kerbois Blog
Image 1: Furnace from LHS waist end of firing from left to right
By way of a key, left and right are relative to the glass flow. With no flames, the temperatures are calibrated. The red cross highlights peak flame temperature at a relatively low 1578°C. 
 Transportable NIR-B-2K - Philippe Kerbois Blog
Image 2: Furnace Port 3 RHS end of firing from right-left 62 Isotherms
This is the immediate frame following the flame-off. The temperatures are real. The 62-isotherm palette means that each colour is 4°.
Transportable NIR-B-2K - Philippe Kerbois Blog
Image 3: Furnace from LHS waist firing from right to left
By way of a key, left and right are relative to the glass flow. See flames, with isotherms to see hottest peak flames and show the flames pattern and heat transfer. The red cross highlights peak flame temperature.


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