Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 779–786 | Cite as

Short Duration Overheating in a Steam Reformer: Consequences to the Catalyst Tubes

  • Iván Uribe Perez
  • Laudemiro Nogueira Júnior
  • Levi de Oliveira Bueno
  • Luiz Henrique de AlmeidaEmail author
  • Tito Fernando da Silveira
Technical Article---Peer-Reviewed


Catalytic reformer furnaces (steam reformers) produce hydrogen-rich gas by cracking natural gas or naphtha in the presence of steam and a catalyst. This hydrogen-rich gas is a raw material in different petrochemical processes and is also used in the hydrotreating process in petroleum refineries. Unexpected operational failures of these reformers can cause major economic losses. These failures can happen when the feedstock flow, that cools the catalyst tubes located in the radiation chamber, is unintentionally restricted without also reducing the fuel burn rate. The thermal imbalance created in this situation can quickly produce a temperature surge large enough to cause the failure of the catalyst tubes through formation of large longitudinal cracks. This paper discusses a case of a temperature surge followed by the rupture of 13 catalyst tubes. The data show that the catalyst tubes that survived the event may retain sufficient structural integrity to return to normal operation.


Reformer furnaces HP steel Aging Overheating 


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iván Uribe Perez
    • 1
  • Laudemiro Nogueira Júnior
    • 2
  • Levi de Oliveira Bueno
    • 3
  • Luiz Henrique de Almeida
    • 4
    Email author
  • Tito Fernando da Silveira
    • 5
  1. 1.Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS)BucaramangaColombia
  2. 2.Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (PETROBRAS)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar)São CarlosBrazil
  4. 4.Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.TSEC Integridade Estrutural LtdaRio de JaneiroBrazil

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