Modelling of thermal behaviour of iron oxide layers on boiler tubes

J D Angelo, A Bennecer, S Kaczmarczyk, P Picton

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Slender boiler tubes are subject to localised swelling when they are expose to excessive heat. The latter is due to the formation of an oxide layer, which acts as an insulation barrier. This excessive heat can lead to microstructural changes in the material that would reduce the mechanical strength and would eventually lead to critical and catastrophic failure. Detecting such creep damage remains a formidable challenge for boiler operators. It involves a costly process of shutting down the plant, performing electromagnetic and ultrasonic non-destructive inspection, repairing or replacing damaged tubes and finally restarting the plant to resume its service. This research explores through a model developed using a finite element computer simulation platform the thermal behaviour of slender tubes under constant temperature exceeding 723 \K. Our simulation results demonstrate that hematite layers up to 15 \μm thickness inside the tubes do not act as insulation. They clearly show the process of long term overheating on the outside of boiler tubes which in turn leads to initiation of flaws.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Thermal behaviour
  • iron oxide
  • boiler tubes


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