100 years of Wood’s FW fired heaters in refining

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In 2019, Wood celebrated a century of Foster Wheeler fired heater technology in the refining industry as well as our continuous support of the changing energy landscape.

The roots of Wood’s fired equipment technology date back to 1903, when Ernest Foster, co-founder of the Power Specialty Company (now part of Wood) invented and patented cast iron ‘gill rings’ which increased the heat transfer surface area of steam super-heaters.

The company’s first refinery application to use this technology was an all-convective heater supplied in 1919, and the technology was quickly adapted for the emerging refining industry. Since then, fired heaters have been critical components of all refineries and petrochemical facilities, and the company continues to design, build, revamp and support them a century later.

Brian McCarthy, vice president of process technology and consulting, said: “Wood has unmatched capability in supporting customers with upgrading capacity, improving efficiency and extending the useful life of their existing fired heaters.

“The rich heritage of our fired heaters team is a source of great pride as their development over the last century has helped build today’s global refining and petrochemicals industries from their earliest foundations.

“In the changing energy landscape, Wood is pioneering new applications to meet our customers’ requirements, including providing aftermarket support and evaluating new technologies aligned with energy transition, as we first did 100 years ago.”

Today, Wood’s experienced, global fired heater team consists of over 150 specialists, providing technology, innovation and value through full life cycle support, superior designs and efficient equipment. Wood has supplied over 3000 fired heaters in over 70 countries and continues to be a leader in the design and supply of reliable fired heaters.

Visit our fired heaters services page for more information, or  contact one of our fired heater specialists.

100 years of history

As the demand for oil-based produces rose, in 1919, Wood’s Foster Wheeler Fired Heaters designed and supplied the first all-convective heater to the refining industry. The following year saw the patent and supply of the first tubular heater.

1927: 1st vacuum distillation heater in a turnkey supply of a 2-stage atmospheric/vacuum pipe still

1939: design and supply of the 1st Delayed Coker/ Visbreaker Heater based on UOP’s Equiflux (double-fired) heater design.

1949: first vertical cylindrical heater built with vertical bare tubes in the convection section. It was also the year the Esso Refinery was built at Fawley in the UK.

1954: patented the now famous Terrace Wall furnace design- the basis of our Steam-Hydrocarbon Reforming Furnace and our Delayed Coker Heater.

1960: developed, designed and supplied a novel compact CO Boiler design for FCC units.

1962: pioneered, designed and supplied the 1st high-pressure steam methane reforming furnace – producing large savings in compression costs.

1975: executed a 34 heater award from multiple offices for a Middle East grassroots refinery project.

1991: design and supplied the 1st Terrace Wall double-fired Delayed Coker Heater.

1990s: supplied our 200th Terrace Wall Steam Reformer Furnace

2000s: supplied our 150th Delayed Coker Heater

Today: transformational change with the ability to leverage Wood’s current broad asset integrity and lifecycle optimization

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