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Mikron Infrared, Inc., Thermal Imaging Division, Hancock, MI
(Nominated by Jon Chynoweth, Mikron Infrared, Inc.)
Traditionally, power station operators wear protective visors and look into inspection ports, attempting to see through flames for signs of slag on boiler tubes. Slag is detrimental to efficiency: so arose the need to find a better way to monitor its buildup at three Westar Energy (Topeka, KS) power plants.
Infrared imaging offers a potential solution, but cryogenically cooled cameras (in the 3.9-micron band) which can penetrate flames are too expensive. An innovative development by Mikron Infrared—that images in the range of 8-to-14 microns—utilizes proprietary filtering. The camera sees through flames and withstands extreme temperature which are necessary for imaging inside boilers where heat from combustion exceeds 1100 degrees C (2012°F).
The camera lens is positioned near a 5×10-inch inspection port in the furnace wall. Using the camera’s telephoto capability, thermal images are captured—through flames and particulate matter—all the way to the center partition of the massive boiler, 85 feet wide by 140 feet tall.
The Tools Used:
The Difference It Made:
By monitoring slag buildup on boiler tubes plus performing predictive maintenance on motors, bearings and electrical cabinets, a single camera achieved a high dual-utilization rate and rapid return-on-investment. Conventional cameras, built around cryogenically cooled detectors, are larger, heavier, more costly and less portable than the MikroScan 7400 and were not practical for continuous use under the harsh environmental conditions of a blast furnace.