Pulp and Paper Canada


January 1, 2007  By Pulp & Paper Canada

Special to Pulp & Paper Canada

Special to Pulp & Paper Canada

The Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee (BLRBAC) is an organization that was formed late in 1961 by several groups of concerned professionals who had become alarmed by the number of damaging black liquor recovery boiler smelt-water reactions that had resulted in injuries and death to personnel operating these boilers. These groups consisted of insurance companies, boiler manufacturers and paper company professionals that were involved in operating, insuring or manufacturing black liquor recovery boilers. Recovery boilers are a critical part of the kraft pulping operating and damage from a smelt-water reaction can shut down a mill for an extended period of time. As such, they are vital to the operation of the mill and safety becomes a primary factor in their use and maintenance.



The objective of BLRBAC is to promote safety of black liquor recovery boilers and their auxiliaries through the interchange of technical knowledge, experience and review of recovery boiler incidents.

In the articles of the association, some of the objectives and activities are noted as providing a lawful forum for the discussion of matters relating to recovery boiler safety and cooperating with other related associations and societies in matters of common interest.

The success of the committee is reflected in the reduction in the frequency of damaging smelt-water incidents since the organization was formed. The five-year running average of the number of such incidents: 6 per 100 operating years in 1973; 4 per 100 operating years in 1983, 2.3 per 100 operating years in 1993 and 0.3 per 100 operating years since 2003.

“Critical” incidents still occur at a very regular frequency and demonstrate that we cannot become complacent even though damaging smelt-water reactions have dropped so significantly. The critical incidents are near misses, generally tube leaks, which, if the proper actions are not taken, could result in a damaging smelt-water reaction. At the October 2005 meeting, of the 40 incidents reviewed, 17 (more than 40%) were judged to be “critical.”


There are four categories of membership, designated as:

* Regular membership – for organizations operating, manufacturing, or insuring chemical recovery boilers;

* Associate membership – for organizations having a direct interest or role in the safety of chemical recovery boilers;

* Corresponding membership – for organizations with offices outside of the United States, eligible for regular or associate membership, who find it impractical to attend meetings on a regular basis; and

* Retirees – in recognition of past service and the interest to contribute to improved chemical recovery boiler safety.


BLRBAC meets twice a year, generally the first week of April and October. A large part of the meeting is devoted to reviewing the incidents that have been reported by operating companies during the past six months. There is also an operating problems session where professionals share issues and solutions. There are eight active subcommittees. Each subcommittee is responsible for generating guidelines, known as ‘recommended practices’ and for keeping them current.

Since some of the activities share a common theme with PAPTAC’s Steam and Steam Power Committee, the two organizations try to partake in intermittent joint meetings, providing opportunities for ample idea generation and sharing.

Although these meetings commence with a separate steering session, the two committees typically convene for one and a half days of shared activities. This format has proven to be extremely successful, with over 70 people attending the last joint meeting, held in Quebec City in June 2006.

Recommended practices

BLRBAC recommended practices are widely used as a guide when designing new recovery boilers and for keeping existing recovery operations well arranged and protected. As an example, the Fire Protection in Direct Contact Evaporators and Associated Equipment practice report recommends operating practices (under normal and upset conditions), physical installation and design factors to consider, electrical and instrumentation guides, operator checks, inspection and cleaning and maintenance checks (chain drive, dilution/recirculation pumps, dampers, valves and piping, agitators, flow box scrapers and strainer systems, instrumentation, structure and outage).

A list of the other available resources (in PDF format) include:

* Safe firing of black liquor in black liquor recovery boilers

* Application of Rotork actuators on black liquor recovery boilers

* Post ESP water level

* Emergency shutdown procedure (ESP)

* Checklist and classification guide for instruments and control systems

* Personnel safety & training

* Post ESP guidelines

* Safe firing of auxiliary fuel in black liquor recovery boilers

* Waste stream incineration

BLRBAC also creates and collects documents for review and comment which are available to interested parties for immediate download or viewing. The list of these includes:

* Recommended practice for safe firing of auxiliary fuel in black liquor recovery boilers

* Recommended practice for safe firing of black liquor in black liquor recovery boilers

* Recommended good practice for emergency shutdown procedure (ESP) and procedure for testing ESP system for black liquor recovery boilers documents for review comment/fire protection for DCE

* Recommended guidelines for personnel safety for black liquor recovery boilers

* Recommended guidelines for the incineration of waste streams in black liquor recovery boilers (chapters 1 through 5)

* Recommended guidelines for the incineration of waste streams in black liquor recovery boilers (chapter 6)


To learn more about BLRBAC, visit their web site: www.blrbac.org where past meeting minutes, recommended practices, contact information and other resources are posted, along with information about registering for future meetings.

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