Flame Sensing


One of the most vital protection functions provided by a control system is the capability to automatically trip the fuel valve if a flameout is detected, which requires installation of reliable flame sensors with fast response times. GE was approached by Didrikson Associates, Inc., a key distributor, with a challenge from one of its customers. The customer had been experiencing performance issues with the flame sensors in the primary hydrogen reformer at an ammonia plant and was searching for a flame sensor product that could more reliably withstand the harsh, high-temperature environment in the reformer’s penthouse. High reliability of these flame sensors is critical - they must detect the presence or absence of flame, and signal to the control system whether or not it is safe to continue to supply fuel to the burners.


GE’s Reuter Stokes Flame Tracker* proved to be the perfect sensor for the application. The solution works by sensing ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths produced by a flame and signaling when a flame condition exists. Its high temperature rating allows it to perform in conditions up to 300°F/150°C, which is comparable to conditions in a hydrogen reformer. The customer initially purchased 10 Flame Tracker sensors to test at its ammonia plant. Following successful installation and reliable performance of the solution at that site, the customer decided to outfit two other ammonia facilities with Flame Tracker sensors as well.


As a direct result of installing GE’s flame sensor solution, the customer expects to see decreased maintenance, improved efficiency and reliability with all burners operating, and less interruptions of service.


  • Increased Safety: The Flame Tracker has a response time of 25 milliseconds, while similar products may take as long as a full second to respond. Proper performance of these sensors can help avoid potentially dangerous situations, thereby protecting plant personnel and equipment.
  • High Reliability at High Temperatures: The Flame Tracker operates up to 150°C with no additional cooling necessary. It has an excellent reliability record with more than 15 years of use on GE gas turbines.
  • Superior Performance: The product is based on proven silicon carbide technology that has high sensitivity to longer UV wave lengths and is not susceptible to black body radiation, which reduces false positive readings.

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