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Feature Article: 

Quantitatively Correlating Gold Cup Pyrometer and Infrared Thermography Data of a Steam Reformer's Tubes

Jim Seffrin

Sonny James

Sonny James
Level III Certified Infrared Thermographer
Certified Welding Inspector (AWS CWI)
API 510 Certified Pressure
Vessel Inspector
Owner, Senior Instructor /
Managing Director

NDE Institute of Trinidad, Ltd. / Thermal Diagnostics Ltd.
15 Robertson Street, Les Efforts
East San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago,
West Indies

Ph: 868-653-9343 / 868-657-6572



Maintaining proper reformer and process heater tube temperatures within petrochemical plants is critical to the life of the tubes. Reformer and furnace tube replacement is extremely costly and time consuming. Furthermore, tube failures can potentially escalate to catastrophic failure of the vessel or even the plant. However, acquiring accurate tube temperatures is extremely difficult and often misunderstood. Plant operators and engineers routinely measure their own temperatures using handheld spot pyrometers or thermal imagers, however unless there is an accepted means of acquiring actual contact reference temperatures, any non-contact temperatures measured can be inaccurate within a range outside the acceptable error tolerances.

This paper will discuss an actual exercise conducted in 2008 on a multi-row box type steam reformer to determine the viability of acquiring quantitative temperature data within acceptable tolerances using a Gold Cup Pyrometer as the contact reference and a radiometric thermal imager as the non-contact working thermometer.

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Detecting Electrical System Overloads

Statistically, overloaded circuits are the second most common cause of exceptions found during infrared inspections of electrical systems.

Although overloads are quite common, they can be tricky to accurately diagnose.

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