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Overview of Refractory

Refractory is a heat resistant material used to line high temperature furnaces, reactors, and other processing units. It is more heat resistant than metals and is required for heating applications above 1000°F (538°C). Refractories are designed to resist chemical attack, withstand molten metal and slag erosion, thermal shock, physical impact, catalytic heat and similar adverse conditions.

Refractory Applications

Refractories are used in many different industries around the world, such as: petroleum refining, petrochemicals, power generation, cement, metals and mining, and many more. These refractories are used as a critical component inside high temperature processing equipment. For example, in a fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) in an oil refinery, refractory is primarily used for its abrasion and heat resistant properties. It is also used for its chemical and heat resistant properties in other processing units such as sulfur recovery units.

Overall, refractory is commonly used to line the insides of pressure vessels, piping, furnaces, flue gas ducting, and other process equipment. The main characteristics of refractory, including abrasion-resistance, heat-insulation, and anti-chemical-attack properties, are critical for ensuring the base metals in processing equipment are protected.

Importance of Refractory

Reliable refractory is an important consideration for asset integrity managers in refining and petrochemical facilities. Without the proper refractory system installed and of sufficient quality for each processing service, owner-operators would not be able to run their equipment safely, reliably, properly or efficiently, and would require much more available capital for steel repairs and replacement due to damage or degradation caused by heat, chemicals, and abrasion. With adequate, specific, fit-for-purpose, new-generation refractory systems, facility managers can be confident that their operations will not be impaired or compromised by refractory failures.




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Articles about Refractory
  • July/August 2016 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Jackson Espinoza at Sentinel Integrity Solutions

    An explanation of refractory including its uses and recent advancements in abrasion-resistant materials, dry-out/cure times, improved installation methods, and anchoring systems.

  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Jeremy Wimberly at Sentinel Integrity Solutions

    Refractory materials have significantly evolved during the past 15 years, testing technology is much more sophisticated, and the need for test technicians to be properly trained and experienced to use that technology is much more important than it has been in the past. Today, operators know that to ensure at least five to six year run times on processing units, production baffle testing and material prequalification and inspection processes and results are absolutely critical.

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