While the Gulf keeps the Houston area warm and humid compared to the Northern states, this same humid winter climate can still present unique challenges for industrial flare systems. Here are a few common challenges and ways to mitigate them.
Sudden Temperature Changes
Winter temperatures can change rapidly in Texas. It is not unusual to go from 60 degrees to freezing in a few hours when a cold front comes through.
Rapid temperature changes can cause materials in the flare system to rapidly contract and expand. This thermal shock leads to premature wear and tear, cracking, and other forms of damage. Sudden cooling on warm surfaces can also lead to condensation, which can lead to blockages or corrosion in your flare systems.
Here are a few ways to offset the damages done by sudden temperature changes:
- Choose parts for your flare system that can withstand significant temperature variations without losing strength or integrity. You can find out more about the specifications and limitations of each part from the manufacturer or your parts supplier.
- Use appropriate insulation materials to minimize the effects of sudden temperature changes.
- Real-time temperature monitoring and sensors can provide instant data on temperature changes. This will help you pinpoint problem areas quickly and efficiently.
- Use control systems that automatically adjust the operating parameters of the flare system with temperature fluctuations.
- Undergo regular inspections and stress testing to identify and repair any parts that could be damaged by thermal shock.
Humidity and Ice
Moisture in the air can freeze on the surface of flare tips and other equipment, leading to ice buildup. Ice accumulation can obstruct gas flow, affect combustion efficiency, and create safety hazards. The weight of the ice can also put stress on the flare stack, and this pressure can cause mechanical issues or structural damage.
A few ways to reduce the risks associated with humidity and ice include:
- Moisture Controls like air dryers and desiccant systems help remove excess moisture from the air as it passes through the flare system.
- Parts and insulation made from water and ice-repellant materials can help reduce and eliminate ice buildup where it is feasible to use them.
- For some setups, heat or steam tracing can help provide consistent heat in problem areas to avoid freezing. Appropriate measures to reduce the strain from condensation and humidity should also be considered with this approach.
- De-icing equipment and systems can help you remove ice buildup quickly when it is discovered. Personnel should undergo appropriate regular training to ensure they use these systems safely and efficiently.
- If applicable, adjust the flare tip design for winter months to ones less prone to collecting condensation and ice.
- Develop emergency response plans that specifically address scenarios of ice formation and its impact on flare operation, especially in unusual weather patterns like ice storms, freezing rain or sleet, or a rare heavy snowfall.
Other Ways to Prepare For Texas Winters
While it is impossible to anticipate every possible winter scenario your flare tip systems will undergo, there are various ways to stay ahead of most surprises.
- Check localized weather forecasts each day to stay informed about weather changes and potential emergency situations.
- Use remote technology like drones or remote cameras to inspect vulnerable areas for buildup or damage when manual checks are not safe or feasible.
- Conduct regular training sessions for staff to handle winter-specific operational and safety challenges. This includes rare weather for the area, like heavy snow.
Liberty Flare Will Help You Prepare and Protect Your Flare System From Texas Winters
From aerial Inspections to insulation and custom solutions, we’ve got you covered. Our highly trained team of technicians is dedicated to safety, quality, integrity, and customer satisfaction. Contact us today to discuss the best solutions for your flare systems.