The effective management and control
of high temperature furnaces and
process heaters is an integral part of
processing hydrocarbons. Additionally,
good fame distribution is important
to reduce coking of the furnace tubes,
hence maximizing unit availability by
minimizing the requirement for furnace
decoking. Achieving safe operation,
particularly during start up, shutdown
and abnormal operating conditions is
important so rapid detection of fame
out is also critical.
Optimal operation of furnace and process
heaters largely depends on effective
combustion control, a process which requires
minimising excess air in the combustion
chamber. This necessitates a fast speed of
response when monitoring the fue oxygen
concentration at close to the optimum level
and for the detection of carbon monoxide
in the fue gas, requiring measurement of
these gases at the very high temperatures
close to the fame. Rapid response to changes
in combustion conditions is particularly
important where there is a variation in the
composition of the fuel, for example when
using refnery gas. Additionally, for natural
gas fuelled furnaces fame out conditions
may be detected by monitoring the methane
concentration. It is also important that the
fue gas sample is representative of any
variation across the typical 5m to 25m
width of the furnace. As a consequence,
more accurate and reliable instrumentation
is required to support the control of the
Combustion control requires the use
of effective and responsive gas analysis
technologies, which are used to precisely
determine the composition of a gas mixture
so the fuel/air ratio can be adjusted to
optimise combustion effciency. A wide
range of gas analysis technologies have
been used for combustion control and these
have been applied as in-situ measurements
in the fue gas, in close coupled
arrangements and extractive techniques
requiring various sample systems.
Traditional Infrared (IR) based gas analyzers for
example have been used with an extractive
sample system for monitoring carbon
monoxide concentrations using wide band
pass flters – a technique which can result
in low spectral resolution and the sensitivity
limited by cross-interferences. A major
development in gas analysis techniques has
been the introduction of Tuneable Diode
Laser (TDL) absorption spectroscopy. A single
line ‘monochromatic’ spectroscopy that
offers advantages over ‘multi-chromatic’ IR,
TDL offers a highly stable measurement at
very low concentrations, a reduction in the
cross interference from other gases and a
continuous, fast in-situ measurement.
A typical TDL system consists of a tuneable
diode laser light source, transmitting
optics, an optically accessible absorbing
medium, receiving optics and detector. TDL
technologies are particularly suitable for
in–situ cross stack measurements, with a
typical cross stack system consisting of the
laser emitter module and receiver mounted
across the process pipe line or fue stack.
The measuring principle used is infrared
single-line absorption spectroscopy, which is
based on the fact that each gas has distinct
absorption lines at specifc wavelengths. The
laser wavelength is scanned across a chosen
absorption line of the gas to be measured
and it is carefully selected to avoid cross
interference from other (background) gases.
The benefts of utilising
TDL technology for
furnaces and process heaters
Combustion - Low Excess Air
Low Excess Air levels:
Controlling excess oxygen correctly means the greatest effciency from the process,
but this also has the advantage of reducing NOx emissions
Example gas fred process, actual excess oxygen levels will vary
with heater size, fuel, loading and ambient conditions
-3 0 3 6
The detected light intensity varies as a
function of the laser wavelength due to
absorption of the targeted gas molecules in
the optical path between transmitter and
receiver. Being a spectroscopic absorption
measurement technique, TDL absorption
spectroscopy effectively counts molecules
(or number density of molecules) that
fall within the beam. To provide the gas
concentration the density of the gas is
required which is dependent on pressure
and temperature according to the universal
gas laws. For combustion applications there
is often signifcant variation in temperature
of the gas sample so external inputs are
provided from a 4-20mA temperature
transmitter to the Laser monitor to
enable the analyzer to derive an accurate
gas concentration. Pressure variation in
combustion applications is typically related
to fuctuations in atmospheric pressure so
typically either a fxed pressure is assumed
or pressure compensation from a sensor
in the laser monitor is used. If the highest
levels of accuracy are required, then
external inputs from a 4-20mA pressure
transmitter may be used.
There are primarily two TDL technologies
in use: Direct Absorption Spectroscopy
(DAS) and Wavelength Modulated
Spectroscopy (WMS). DAS is a simpler
technique requiring less demanding signal
processing, providing measurements
from either integration of the area under
the absorption curve or maximum peak
amplitude of absorption line profle
generated by the laser scan. The limitations
of the DAS technique are due to a relatively
noisy absorption signal which compromises
measurement accuracy. DAS is also limited
due to the broad absorption line shape,
with measurement data contained within
the “wings” of the absorption curve,
hence a proportion of the absorption data
is not scanned, and cross interferences
from absorptions of background gases,
molecular interactions and environmental
fuctuations can be diffcult to correct.
While the DAS technique is adequate for
simple analysis under stable conditions,
the low signal to noise ratio and increased
effect of cross interference limits its
application in the demanding long path
length ethylene furnace applications.
WMS is a sophisticated evolution of
the DAS technique, which takes a
measurement of the second harmonic of
the absorption curve at modulation and
detection frequencies of 100 -200 kHz.
This yields a very sharp absorption curve
with all measurement data contained within
the laser scan width and sharply defned
turning points which are easily computed,
allowing an accurate evaluation of the
absorption peak height and line width.
By delivering excellent cross interference
rejection, precise temperature and pressure
correction and low noise measurements,
the greater accuracy and stability given
by the WMS measurement means it is
the TDL method of choice for demanding
applications. Second harmonic detection
offers other signifcant advantages; as
WMS produces a true zero baseline signal,
it eliminates the need to measure small
differences between two large intensities,
with the resultant elimination of the drift
that occurs with traditional TDL and other
spectroscopic techniques.
TDL–based systems are an ideal choice for
in-situ cross stack measurements in process
and combustion control applications.
As there is no physical or mechanical
interaction with the process – other
than molecular absorption – they offer a
highly stable base line measurement, with
typically a 12 month calibration interval and
a fast response measurement in hot, wet,
corrosive and dusty process conditions.
The cornerstones of a well–controlled
combustion process are optimised air-to-fuel
ratio and effcient fuel consumption. Crucial
to this combustion effciency is minimising
excess air in the combustion chamber,
a process which requires fast speed of
response when monitoring the fue oxygen
concentration at close to the optimum level,
and for the detection of carbon monoxide
in the fue gas. The SERVOTOUGH LaserSP
monitor, a high performance TDL combustion
monitor, is ideal for this task by combining
a response time of less than two seconds
with an in-situ measurement location that
eliminates any sample system delays.
The benefts of utilising TDL technology for combustion control in furnaces and process heaters
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Additionally, a LaserSP monitor with dual
gas measurement of both carbon monoxide
and methane may be used for both
combustion control and detection of a fame
out condition in natural gas fred furnaces.
The ability to measure these gases at up to
1500°C allows the LaserSP monitor to be
located close to the furnace burner, delivering
the fastest possible speed of response.
Additionally, the TDL analysis technique
offers a representative path-averaged
measurement of process gas concentrations
with a sensitivity that enables it to highlight
faults: for example problems with a single
burner can be detected by the LaserSP, even
in furnaces where more than 100 burners
may be present.
When utilised for a typical measurement
of 0-10% O
and 0-1000ppm CO
respectively, the LaserSP delivers a
fue gas analysis solution that enables
optimisation of the combustion control
process, improving process effciency by
lowering fuel consumption and reducing
carbon dioxide emissions. TDL absorption
spectroscopy delivers great advantages in
the measurement of carbon monoxide,
with the fast response and specifcity of
the technology enabling carbon monoxide
breakthrough to be monitored accurately.
Carbon monoxide measurement using TDL
monitors also avoids the problem of high
sulphur levels which can inhibit gas analyzers
using catalytic sensor technologies.
Servomex’s advanced application
knowledge has also enabled additional
cost and process control benefts to be
applied to the combustion control process.
In traditional TDL in-situ installations, it is
common practice to fow a dry nitrogen (N
purge gas over the windows of analyzers
to protect the optics, which are exposed to
the hot process gas stream; instrument air
is not used as the oxygen content would
interfere with the O
combustion chamber
measurement. Servomex’s expert solution
has been to extend the infra-red scan
range of the LaserSP to include additional
oxygen absorption lines which only appear
at elevated temperatures, greater than
500°C. By using one of these “hot lines”
to monitor the process O
, it is possible to
use instrument air as the window purge
gas as the O
in the instrument air, being
colder, is no longer “seen” at the process
monitoring “hot” wavelength – resulting in
no interference to the measurement. The
standard “cold” O
absorption line is also
monitored and the signal utilised for the
purpose of checking the LaserSP’s response
to a test gas, and to provide an alarm in
the event of an interruption of the fow of
window purge gas.
This unique Servomex air purge process
typically saves $5000pa (Euro4000pa)
compared to a traditional TDL with
nitrogen purge.
Furnace wall vibration or thermal
expansion can also cause measurement
failure for basic TDL technologies, due
to the movement of the wall on which
the analyzer is mounted resulting in a
reduction or variation in laser light falling
on the laser detector. The LaserSP monitor
enables the laser transmitter optics to
diverge the laser beam, ensuring the
receiver remains unaffected by thermal
movements and vibrations of the process.
This “receiver overflling” technique is
only made possible as a result of the
advanced second harmonic (2f) wavelength
modulated signal (WMS) processing used
in the SERVOTOUGH Laser product range,
which operates at a 100 kHz - 200kHz
carrier signal frequency, providing an order
of magnitude improvement in signal to
noise ratio compared to traditional direct
absorption signal TDL spectroscopy.
In conclusion, Servomex’s advanced TDL
technologies offer signifcant advantages
when applied as a combustion control
solution in a range of hydrcarbon
processing applcations, maximising
effciency whilst reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. The highly robust technique
provides reliable measurement of
combustion gases with less associated
maintenance whilst the location of the
measurement close to the fame delivers
the fastest speed of response, optimising
combustion and minimising fuel costs.

EFFICIENCY: contact your local Servomex
business center:
Asia Pacifc (+86(0)216 489 7570)
Europe/Africa (+31(0)79 330 1580)
India (+91 22 3934 2700)
Latin America (+55 115 188 8166)
Middle East (+971 6552 8073)
North America (+1 281 295 5800)
Laser Transmitter
Different combustion
reaction across process
CO reaction
almost complete
Convection Tubing
Laser receiver
A furnace process utilizing Servomex TDL technology
The benefts of utilising TDL technology for combustion control in furnaces and process heaters