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The Dos and Donts of Flame Detectors

Flame detection systems are crucial in power generation, petrochemical, and industrial markets. Flame detectors use infrared (IR) or ultraviolet (UV) sensors to detect the presence or absence of a flame and help in flame discrimination. They can also effectively differentiate radiation from hot refractory. Their quick and accurate response helps reduce risks associated with flameouts. Hence, flame detectors play a crucial role in industrial safety programs and evaluation purposes.

But choosing the best flame detector for your situation will vary based on several factors. To help narrow down your selection criteria and keep your flame detectors in top operating condition, we’ve compiled a list of important safety do’s and don’ts when installing and operating the most reliable flame detectors for your plant.

Do: Identify which flame detector to apply

Flame detectors vary, and each type offers different features, benefits, and limitations. Understanding which flame detector to use for your application ensures better performance and reduced maintenance costs. Consider essential factors such as the response time, self-diagnostic features, detection range, and ease of turnability when choosing the most reliable flame detector for your facility. These factors help you determine the flame detector that is best suited for your specific application. With the continual self-check feature, you are also guaranteed that your detectors are working properly. 

The amount of UV and IR radiation varies depending on the fuel, and as a general rule of thumb, UV sensors are usually used for natural gas and light oil, while IR is normally used for coal and heavy oil.

Don’t: Assume that all flame detectors are the same

Having a flame detector is crucial in industrial power plants and related facilities. Precise monitoring of the burner flame is the objective to accurately manage continuous production. Combustible fuels like diesel, natural gas, and the like are used in many facilities, so it’s important to ensure safe operations throughout, especially in cases of extreme temperatures. Not all commercial flame detectors can withstand these harsh environments and can burn out. This can lead to other problems like unplanned downtime to repair damages. In addition, old or outdated sensors may create a volatile risk that can lead to injuries or other consequences. Having a flame detector that is able to withstand adverse conditions and signal in advance to avoid potential risks is pertinent.

Do: Opt for self-diagnostics

The highest quality flame detectors have built-in self-diagnostic features that routinely check for proper operation. Self-diagnostics are an invaluable aid since they operate seamlessly in the background and can help to diagnose and repair any issues before they become problematic.

With top-of-the-line self-diagnostic capabilities, the onboard circuitry is protected from external heat sources that can damage sensitive components. These features minimize required maintenance time and provide peace of mind to confirm that one of your most important safety devices is operating flawlessly.

Don’t: Ignore the recommended specification ranges

Generally, a flame detector used in a working power plant needs to stick within certain specification ranges, such as temperature, pressure, and humidity levels. Before selecting equipment for your operation, take routine measurements to determine the average environmental conditions under which your flame detectors will be operating. Routinely subjecting your flame detection equipment to environmental factors outside the recommended ranges can shorten equipment life, decrease detection accuracy, and void any manufacturer warranties.

Do: Consider response time

Some flame detectors may look the same on the surface but choosing equipment with even a few seconds faster response time can save your business thousands of dollars per year. Consider general response time once a failure has been detected. This factor can prevent small mishaps from turning into larger disasters within your plant.

Don’t: Buy based on price alone

Selecting the best flame detector can be a subjective experience since you should consider your power plant requirements, the amount of space you want to cover, what items you are working with, and so on. All these things will influence your ideal flame detector and how many devices you will need to adequately protect your plant. Every flame detector model has its fair share of benefits, each with different response times, FOVs, monitoring apps, and detection ranges. Purchasing flame detectors based on price alone can leave your plant woefully under-protected.

While no technology is foolproof, choosing units that combine detection technologies (such as IR and UV units) and utilize higher quality internal materials can improve the overall quality and life of your equipment. Look for devices that utilize bidirectional communication protocols and are proven to meet industry approval standards. By choosing flame detectors that meet all of the unique needs of your plant, you will be more likely to get the most value out of this important safety purchase.

Do: Understand the different types of flame detectors

At Forney, we have a complete line of Discreet Detectors and unitized detectors to choose from. In the Discreet Detectors, you can choose your igniter detector for use with the IDD 9000 amplifier. The Unitized Detectors contain both sensors and amplifiers in the same housing.

Discreet Detectors:

  • DD - IIU: Preferred with coal or oil, or both; Acceptable to use with natural gas and lignite; Not Recommended for coal and gas, and lignite and gas combined.
  • IDD - IIL: Preferred with lignite; Not recommended for natural gas, oil, coal, coal and gas combined, coal and oil combined, or lignite and gas combined.
  •  IDD - II: Preferred with oil or coal; Acceptable to use with lignite, and coal and oil combined; Not acceptable with natural gas, coal and gas combined, or lignite and gas combined.
  • IDD - Ultra: Preferred with natural gas; Acceptable with oil; Not Preferred with coal, lignite, coal and gas combined, coal and oil combined, or lignite and gas combined.

Unitized Detectors:

  • HD: Preferred with natural gas, oil, coal, lignite, and all combinations
  • UniFlame I: Acceptable with natural gas, oil, coal, lignite, and all combinations
  • UniFlame II: Acceptable with natural gas, oil, coal, lignite, and all combinations

At Forney, we have over 93 years of experience manufacturing the safest and most reliable state-of-the-art combustion equipment, including flame detectors. We’ve manufactured for more than 1,000 plants in more than 100 countries. We have provided efficiencies and cost savings for many plant operators.

When it comes to the safety of your operations, reliable flame detectors are a must. Visit our line of flame detectors to determine the best flame detectors for your facility.