Flame Eye Cleaned “ON-LINE!” at 900°C for BHP Billiton

Safety eye unblocked at Sulphur reaction furnace


A UK-based gas plant needed an innovative specialist industrial cleaning solution when their furnace ‘flame eye’ went blind. The blockage on a port could have caused a plant-wide shut down. However, Tube Tech were able to clean the flame eye online, avoiding any production losses.


  • A vital “flame eye” in the Sulphur reaction furnace of a gas plant went blind.
  • The “eye” is a safety feature – one of the detectors that provide constant surveillance of a 900 degrees Centigrade flame incinerating highly-toxic hydrogen sulphide (H2S).
  • A blockage in a port through which the detector sees the flame is cause for concern, as the flame needs constant monitoring.
  • The flame going out would entail a total shut down at the plant.
  • Blockages of this kind can be an issue in sulphur recovery plants around the world but this plant’s situation was unique because of its proximity to the sea.
  • Over seven years the wet sea air had caused blockages in the air purge pipework that feeds the flame-eye ports.


  • On two occasions one of the “eye” ports had become blocked.
  • Tube Tech, who had successfully descaled the Waste Heat Recovery Unit (WHRU) at this plant was asked to develop a special tool.
  • The brief was that it should drill out the deposits causing the blockage but remain sealed to the incinerator and under pressure to ensure that no H2S escaped during the operation.
  • A five-man Tube Tech team was dedicated to developing in-house the special tool.
  • After exhaustively testing the 3m long tool  was pressed into service within four months and did exactly as required.
  • The two-inch ports were cleared and the eye’s sight was restored.

Client Comment

A spokesman for the client said: “The tool worked exactly as expected after Tube Tech was given guidance by our engineers on material requirements and fabrication standards. There was no down time involved with either furnace. All work was done on-line at 900°C.”

Tube Tech Comment

Scott Donson of Tube Tech said: “It is vital for this plant that the flame is constantly monitored. We had to develop a system from scratch that met the challenge. It took four months to refine and test but it worked very well when put into service.”


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