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Alternative Fuels

Posted by Ritchie Ware on Oct 14, 2015 12:02:00 PM

Available fuel type is a limiting factor for many facilities in need of a rental boiler. Depending on the location, certain fuels simply may not be available due to utilities not being run at the time of construction or geographic restrictions for moving a fuel type to the site. For example, certain rail yards that require steam for cleaning out railcars may be situated in extremely remote locations where it is not practical to run a natural gas line, therefore, burning fuel oil may be a more reasonable option to the rail company. That is a common scenario. Every once in a while, however, one may find that there is an unexpected resource that can be harnessed and utilized to great benefit.

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Since WARE provides rental boilers to a wide variety of customers nationwide, there have been many projects for which a customized solution was implemented. One such project that recently concluded was for a chemical company in Georgia that found itself with a surplus fuel problem. Through one of their chemical processes, a very large amount of hydrogen was being created as a byproduct, and they were facing stringent EPA regulations and costs to capture and safely dispose of the volatile gas. Since hydrogen is combustible, WARE was able to work with them to engineer a solution utilizing a 75,000 pound per hour 350 psi design Nebraska watertube boiler to burn the hydrogen and generate process steam for the plant.

The burner had to be slightly modified to pack a tighter flame pattern than that which is optimal for natural gas (hydrogen has about 325 Btu/cu ft compared to ~1,000 Btu/cu ft for natural gas). Another issue that came up in the process of operating with hydrogen was corrosion; the moisture content of the fuel was carrying through and causing significant corrosion on the fire side of the boiler. It was decided that installing a dryer system for the hydrogen gas would mitigate that problem, and the boiler has been operating well ever since. Do not think that this was just some makeshift solution that was run for a couple months and then shut down…no, this project continued for the past seven years, since June 2008, in fact.

This company was able to utilize a fuel that they were already generating on-site. Incurring the operating cost of a rental boiler may be a tax deduction, but for this customer, the real savings were found in no longer having to capture and remove a volatile gas that could also incur heavy fines if not disposed of properly. Piping the fuel over to a boiler and getting the additional benefit of cheap steam was a more beneficial solution that burning it off or transporting it to a disposal facility. Whether you are limited by your available fuel or find that you have a surplus fuel source (such as hydrogen, propane, or methane, etc.), WARE can help you find a solution to get steam or hot water for your facility.

Topics: WARE News, WARE Tip

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