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Boiler Tuning: Striking the Perfect Air/Fuel Mixture

Posted by Ritchie Ware on Dec 16, 2015 1:02:51 PM

Annual_ServicesYou need three things to make a flame, fuel, oxygen and ignition. If you have ever made a potato cannon you understand this lesson well. Too much air in the combustion chamber and your spud doesn’t launch with the pizzaz you expect, too much fuel, well, bad things can happen (boom). Side note: I’ve found that White Rain hairspray makes the best fuel source. To achieve the best launch, you have to strike the perfect balance between fuel and air in the chamber. The same is also true with steam boilers. In order to achieve optimum efficiency, your boiler has to be tuned with the proper air/fuel mixture.

Too much O2 in your boiler results in the boiler running inefficiently. Too much fuel in your boiler and catastrophic failure can occur. 

Too often plant technicians look through the peep hole on their boiler, see a flame, and make the mistake of thinking their boiler is running “right”. Most of time this is not the case at all. Not all flames are created equal. Just because you see a nice blue flame, doesn’t mean you are getting the best production out of your boiler. Boilers must be sized to meet maximum potential demands, but did you know that the average boiler operates at 30-45% of its capacity?

When looking at boiler O2 output you really want to keep it at or under 3%. When O2 numbers climb above 3%, you have excess air and your boiler loses efficiencies.  Excess air causes:

  • Flame quenching
  • Furnace cooling
  • Reduced efficiency

To increase efficiency there are a few strategies one can employ to get the most out of their boiler.

Parallel positioning systems – with integrated flame management. This allows old technologies to be as efficient as they can be.

Replacing linkage arms with servo motors on the fuel train and air systems.

Utilizing a pre-mix technology achieves an 85% fuel air premix, making fuel air adjustments easier. Premix technologies also allow your boiler to achieve and maintain a 3% O2 output which greatly improves turndown ratios – meaning you can make steam more immediately while realizing significant fuel savings. 

WARE’s team of boiler experts are highly skilled at evaluating the condition of a boiler and making sound recommendations on how to improve efficiencies and realize cost savings. WARE offers efficiency testing programs as well as controls and instrumentation evaluations to ensure that you are getting the most out of your boiler, day in and day out.

For a more detailed explanation of boiler tuning and how to get the most from your boiler, watch this video. WARE’s experts discuss how to know if you are getting the most out of your combustion and measures to take to avoid flame quenching. They also discuss ways to look for better heat transfer and less maintenance. For more questions, call WARE today! (502)-968-2211

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