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Commercial-scale demonstration of pollutant emission reduction and energy saving

for industrial boilers by employing water/oil emulsified fuel
Chelemuge
a,⇑
, Tomoaki Namioka
a
, Kunio Yoshikawa
b
, Masanori Takeshita
c
, Koichi Fujiwara
c
a
Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, G5-8, 4259/Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8502, Japan
b
Frontier Research Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology, G5-8, 4259/Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8502, Japan
c
Clean Mechanical Co. Ltd., 100-1, Minato Shinchi, Saijoo City, Ehime Prefecture 793-0046, Japan
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 14 September 2010
Received in revised form30 September 2011
Accepted 5 December 2011
Available online 29 December 2011
Keywords:
Water/oil emulsified fuel
NO
x
emission
Soot emission
Energy saving
Boiler
a b s t r a c t
The water/oil emulsified fuel consists of base fuel oil and water doped with or without a trace content of
surface active agents. In this study, the water/oil emulsified fuel was successfully produced without
usage of any surface active agents. An experimental study has been implemented in an industrial steam
boiler to investigate the combustion characteristics of this emulsified fuel by analyzing the exhaust gas
emissions and the thermal efficiency of the boiler. The experiment demonstrated that the water/oil emul-
sified fuel is effective for NO
x
and soot emission suppression as well as thermal efficiency improvement.
These effects were also demonstrated for the commercially operated water heating boiler.
Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Water/oil emulsified fuel consists of base fuel oil and water
doped with or without a trace content of surface active agents. It
has been proven that the thermal NO
x
and soot emissions can be
suppressed by using the water/oil emulsified fuel in a diesel engine
or boiler [1–6]. For example, the reduction of NO
x
, CO, soot emis-
sions by using water/oil emulsified fuel in diesel engines was re-
ported in several studies [1–4], and 6% reduction of NO
x
and 32%
reduction of CO could be achieved by the water emulsified fuel
in a heavy diesel fuel burning engine [4]. In addition, reductions
of 15–20%, 36%, 84%, respectively, for NO
x
, PM and CO in the flue
gas of a boiler by using the waste water emulsified fuel was re-
ported [6]. Reduction of NO
x
emission was attributed to the local
temperature lowering in a flame due to vaporization of water
resulting in the reduction of thermal NO
x
formation [7,8], and some
authors suggested a possible influence of the added water on the
NO
x
formation through the increase in the OH radical pool, leading
to reduction of the oxygen atom concentration and hence suppres-
sion of NO
x
formation [9]. Decrease in soot emission may be the re-
sult of different mechanisms, as some authors indicated that the
OH radicals effectively reduce soot emission by acceleration of oxi-
dation of soot precursors [9]. But the most widely accepted reason
is the occurrence of the micro-explosion. After entering the com-
bustion chamber, the water/oil emulsified fuel will be superheated
and the water droplets will evaporate rapidly causing the breakup
of fuel droplets into finer droplets, which is called as the micro-
explosion. This phenomenon has been extensively documented in
several theoretical and experimental studies [10–12].
Furthermore, it is said that the use of water/oil emulsified fuel is
effective for fuel saving, and the most probable reason of the
improvement of the specific fuel consumption or the thermal effi-
ciency in a diesel engine is reduction of the heat losses [13,14]. An
experimental investigation has been carried out to study the effects
of the usage of the water/oil emulsified fuel in an indirect injection
diesel engine on the heat flux flowing into the cylinder head, the
thermal loading and the metal temperature distribution. The results
showed that the addition of water to diesel fuel has great influence
onreductionof the heat flux, the metal temperature andthe thermal
loading of combustion chamber components [14].
Energy saving and reduction of air pollutant emissions in a boi-
ler using the waste water emulsified fuel was studied [5], and there
was 6% increase in the boiler efficiency by the use of the wastewa-
ter emulsified fuel. This improvement of the boiler efficiency was
explained by the fact that the organic compounds dissolved in
wastewater might form igniting spots which provide better com-
bustion environment in the furnace resulting in more complete
combustion and improvement of the boiler efficiency. On the other
hand, the study about the effects of the water/oil emulsified fuel on
the boiler thermal efficiency was quite limited, and the investiga-
tion on the water/oil emulsified fuel for boiler application should
be further explored.
0306-2619/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2011.12.018

Corresponding author. Tel.: +81 45 924 5507; fax: +81 45 924 5518.
E-mail address: chelemuge.u.aa@m.titech.ac.jp ( Chelemuge).
Applied Energy 93 (2012) 517–522
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Applied Energy
j our nal homepage: www. el sevi er . com/ l ocat e/ apener gy
The utilization of this water/oil emulsified fuel in diesel engines
and industrial boilers has recently attracted considerable attention
due to high rise of the oil price. For effective application of the
water/oil emulsified fuel, their stability should be primarily en-
sured. But the problem is requirement of surface active agents to
avoid separation of oil and water, resulting in high running cost
of the water/oil emulsified fuel.
In this study, the water/oil emulsified fuel without any surface
active agents were produced, and the combustion experiment was
carried out to compare the thermal efficiency and the flue gas com-
position of an industrial steam boiler with the use of this water/oil
emulsified fuel and heavy oil A. Finally, application of this water/oil
emulsified fuel without any surface active agents to a commer-
cially operated water heating boiler successfully demonstrated
more than 10% energy saving as well as suppression of NO
x
and
soot emissions.
2. The water/oil emulsified fuel production system without
surface active agents
The water/oil emulsified fuel production system consists of the
fuel supply unit, the water supply unit and the emulsification unit
as shown in Fig. 1. The emulsification unit consists of an injector
and a line mixer, which are installed just upstream of the burner.
The production process of the water/oil emulsified fuel is: first
oil and water are supplied from each supply unit at a constant flow
rate before being mixed. Then the supplied oil and water are mixed
and emulsified by the emulsification unit to produce the water/oil
emulsified fuel. The emulsification unit is installed just upstream
of the burner, which enables the emulsified fuel to be combusted
before separation of oil and water, and therefore excludes the
necessity of adding any surface active agents.
Fig. 2 shows the micrograph of water/oil emulsified fuel drop-
lets. Fine water droplets with the size of the order of few micro-
meters dispersed in the continuous phase of oil. Fig. 3 shows the
kinematic viscosity of the water/oil emulsified fuel as a function
of the water content ratio. The kinematic viscosity slightly in-
creased with the increase of the water content ratio up to 30%.
The influence of this viscosity change on the fuel atomization
process would be minor.
3. Combustion characteristics of the water/oil emulsified fuel in
an industrial steam boiler
3.1. Experimental method
The water/oil emulsified fuel production system (shown in
Fig. 1) was installed to an industrial steam boiler. The specification
Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the device used for production of the water/oil emulsified fuel.
Fig. 2. Micrograph of water/oil emulsified fuel droplet.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
0 10 20 30 40
K
i
n
e
m
a
t
i
c

V
i
s
c
o
s
i
t
y

[
1
0
-
6
m
2
/
s
]
Water Content %
Fig. 3. Kinematic viscosity as the faction of water content ratio.
518 Chelemuge et al. / Applied Energy 93 (2012) 517–522
of the boiler used for this experiment was shown in Table 1. It is a
flowing type steam boiler with a forced draft hydraulic pressure
type burner having the rated fuel consumption of 96 kg/h, and
the maximum evaporation capacity is 1500 kg/h.
The demonstrational combustion test was carried out on the
steam boiler to investigate the combustion characteristics of the
water/oil emulsified fuel and the concentrations of O
2
, NO
x
, CO,
dust in the boiler flue gas and gas temperature were measured.
The gas analyzer (Testo 350 XL, Testo Co., Ltd.) was used to mea-
sure the concentration of O
2
, NO
x
, CO and gas temperature. The
concentration of dust was conducted following the measurement
method of the Japanese Industrial Standard JIS Z 8808. And also
the thermal efficiency of the boiler was measured. The thermal
efficiency of the boiler g is defined as the ratio of the output steam
energy and the input fuel energy as shown below:
g ¼
D Â ðh
st
À h
w
Þ
ðB
0
 H
1
Þ
Â100% ð1Þ
Here, h
st
(kJ/kg) and h
w
(kJ/kg) are the enthalpies of the pro-
duced steam and the feed water, respectively, D (kg/h) is the mass
flow rate of the produced steam, B
0
(kg/h) is the mass flow rate of
the supplied heavy oil A, and H
l
(kJ/kg) is the calorific value of the
heavy oil A.
Table 2 shows the experimental conditions. There the water
content ratio is defined as the ratio of the water flow rate and
the total flow rate of the fuel (water flow rate + oil flow rate) as
shown below:
Water content ratio ¼
water flow rate ½L=hŠ
ðoil flow rate þwater flow rateÞ ½L=hŠ
Â100%
ð2Þ
The water content ratio in the emulsified fuel was changed from
0 vol.% to 30 vol.%, where 0 vol.% means heavy oil A only, and the
heavy oil A flow rate was kept constant when changing the water
content ratio. The total emulsified fuel consumption increased
with the increasing of the water content ratio by keeping the ther-
mal input constant.
The definition of the excess air ratio (Lambda k) is the ratio of
the actual air–fuel ratio [A/F] to the stoichiometric air fuel ratio
[(A/F)
st
] as shown below:
Lambda ðkÞ ¼
A=F
ðA=FÞ
st
ð3Þ
The excess air ratio (Lambda k) is calculated by
Lambda ðkÞ ¼
21
21 À ðO
2
Þ
ð4Þ
where the Lambda (k) of 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 correspond to the concen-
tration of O
2
(O
2
) of 1.9, 3.5 and 4.0 vol.%, respectively.
3.2. Experimental results
3.2.1. NO
x
emission
The concentration of NO
x
in the boiler flue gas as functions of
the water content ratio and the excess air ratio (k) is shown in
Fig. 4. It is shown that the concentration of NO
x
increased by
decreasing the excess air ratio. As the excess air ratio decreased
from 1.2 to 1.1, the concentration of NO
x
emission increased by
14% approximately. The NO
x
emissions were reduced by 17%,
30%, and 36% at the water content ratios of 10 vol%, 20 vol%, and
30 vol% compared to the heavy oil A (water content ratio of
0 vol%), respectively. It is clearly shown that the concentration of
NO
x
increased by decreasing the excess air ratio (k), and decreased
by increasing the water content ratio. In general, there are three
mechanisms by which NO
x
is formed in the combustion process,
namely fuel NO
x
, prompt NO
x
and thermal NO
x
. [19,20]. Fuel NO
x
is formed when fuels containing nitrogen are burned. In this study,
the fuel nitrogen content between heavy oil A and water emulsi-
fied fuel is the same, therefore the change of the excess air ratio
and the water content ratio have no effects on formation of fuel
NO
x
. Prompt NO
x
is formed in the fuel-rich flame zone. The contri-
bution of prompt NO
x
to overall NO
x
emission is relatively small in
conventional near-stoichiometic combustors. Therefore, the con-
tribution of prompt NO
x
formation in this study can be ignored.
Thermal NO
x
is formed at high temperature in the combustion
chamber when oxygen and nitrogen coming from air react each
other. And the NO
x
emission decreases with a decrease in the tem-
perature [20]. Hence, lower combustion flame temperature due to
the latent heat of added water suppressed the NO
x
emission as a
result of the dependence of the thermal NO
x
mechanism on the
gas temperature. Also, a recent report on a diesel-fueled engine
employing the emulsified fuel indicated that the latent heat of
water induces a cooling effect on exhaust gas temperature result-
ing in suppression of the thermal NO
x
formation [15].
3.2.2. CO and soot emission
Concentrations of CO and soot in the boiler flue gas as functions
of the water content ratio and the excess air ratio (k) were shown
in Fig. 5. The CO emission increased by lowering the excess air
Table 1
Specification of the steam boiler used for the experiment.
Burner
Type Forced draft hydraulic pressure
Ignition type Direct fuel injection
Control High–Low–OFF
Boiler
Type Flowing type steam boiler
Consumption of fuel amount 96 kg/h
Pressure of produced steam 0.6 MPa
Maximum evaporation capacity 1500 kg/h
Heat transfer area 9.6 m
2
Table 2
Operating conditions of the demonstration test.
Water content ratio Vol% 0 5 10 20 30
Oil flow rate [L/h] 94
Water flow rate [L/h] 0 4 11 23 39
Total fuel consumption [L/h] 94 98 105 117 133
Thermal input [MJ/h] 3404
Excess air ratio 1.1 1.2 1.3
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
0 10 20 30
C
o
n
c
e
n
t
r
a
t
i
o
n

o
f

N
O
x

E
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

[
p
p
m
@
4
%

O
2
]
Water Content [vol%]
=1.1
=1.2
=1.3
Fig. 4. Concentration of NO
x
in the boiler flue gas.
Chelemuge et al. / Applied Energy 93 (2012) 517–522 519
ratio, due to the incomplete combustion with less oxygen supply.
About the effect of water addition on the CO emission, the experi-
mental results show that there was no significant change of the
concentration of CO emission up to 20% of the water content ratio
at the excess air ratio of 1.1 and 1.2. But there was a slight increase
of the CO emission at the water content ratio of 30%. Addition of
too much water is not beneficial for combustion because the latent
heat loss becomes too large for the fuel to burn completely by
reducing the flame temperature, which results in the formation
of larger amount of CO [3,15].
Onthe other hand, soot emissionwas significantly reducedinthe
case of water/oil emulsifiedfuel comparedtothe heavyoil A. This re-
sult is similar to other studies using water emulsified fuel to reduce
the soot emission [6,15]. It can be considered that the emulsified
droplets lead to the micro-explosion, which improves atomization
resulting in lower emission of soot [6]. After entering the combus-
tion chamber, the water/oil emulsified fuel will be superheated
and the water droplets will evaporate first. The vaporization will
cause the breakup of fuel droplets into finer droplets, which is called
as the micro-explosion. Therefore, it will improve the atomization
process and also the combustion reaction to help suppression of
the formation of soot and unburned hydrocarbons [3].
3.2.3. Thermal efficiency of the boiler
Fig. 6 shows the thermal efficiency of the boiler as functions of
the excess air ratio (k) and the water content ratio. The thermal
efficiency of the boiler was calculated by Eq. (1). In addition, during
the experiment, there were three runs for each excess air ratio and
the water content ratio. The duration of each run was 1 h, and the
thermal load was maintained constant.
The experimental result shows that the decrease of the excess
air ratio (k) increases the thermal efficiency of the boiler at the
same water content ratio, due to reduction of the heat loss associ-
ated with the flue gas.
Up to 10% of the water content ratio, there was no significant
change (or a slight increase at the excess air ratio of 1.1) in the
thermal efficiency. But it decreased by increasing the water con-
tent ratio above 10% at the same excess air ratio. The influence of
water addition on the thermal efficiency of the boiler can be attrib-
uted to the influence of latent heat by adding water, as well as the
occurrence of the micro-explosion phenomena pointed out previ-
ously. The micro-explosion phenomena induces finer fuel droplets
and better mixing with surrounding air resulting in more complete
combustion [16–18]. Considering the latent heat loss and combus-
tion performance improvement by adding water, the water content
ratio of 10% was the optimum in the experiment.
In addition, the experimental results also indicated that the ex-
cess air ratio can be reduced for the water emulsified fuel without
increasing the NO
x
and dust emissions, which should result in the
increase of the thermal efficiency. For example, if the boiler should
operate at the excess air ratio of 1.3 in the case of heavy oil A due to
emission control of NO
x
and soot, by adding 10% water, the excess
air ratio can be reduced to 1.2 without increasing the NO
x
and dust
emissions leading to 1% increase in the thermal efficiency.
4. Application of the water emulsified fuel to a commercial
industrial boiler
The use of water/oil emulsified fuel on the practical combustion
applications have been gaining increasing attention as a method of
reducing pollutant emissions as well as a method of energy saving.
In this study, we applied this water/oil emulsified fuel with the
water content ratio of 13 vol% to a commercially operating water
heating boiler with 733 kW capacity. Fig. 7 shows the photographs
of both boiler and the control unit for production of the water/oil
emulsified fuel. The water/oil emulsified fuel was produced by
the same concept as explained in Section 2.
The water/oil emulsified fuel was used in this boiler for a long
duration commercial operation (about 3 years). The operating data
demonstrated that the use of water/oil emulsified fuel was
effective for both the reduction of the boiler emission gases and
the fuel consumption.
4.1. Reduction of the boiler emission gases and fuel consumption
Table 3 shows the operating data of the commercial industrial
boiler with the use of heavy oil A and the water/oil emulsified fuel.
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
0 10 20 30
C
o
n
c
e
n
t
r
a
t
i
o
n

o
f

C
O

E
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

[
p
p
m
@
4
%
O
2
]
Water content [vol%]
C
o
n
c
e
n
t
r
a
t
i
o
n

o
f


D
u
s
t

E
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

[
m
g
/
m
3
N
]
CO( =1.1) CO( =1.2)
Dust( =1. ) Dust( 1.2)
Fig. 5. Concentrations of CO and dust in the boiler flue gas.
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
0 10 20 30
T
h
e
r
m
a
l


E
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
c
y

o
f

t
h
e

B
o
i
l
e
r


[
%
]
Water Content [vol%]
=1.1
=1.2
=1.3
Fig. 6. Thermal efficiency of the boiler.
Fig. 7. Photograph of the commercially operating boiler.
520 Chelemuge et al. / Applied Energy 93 (2012) 517–522
The excess air ratio was 1.4 and 1.3 when use of heavy oil A and
water/oil emulsified fuel, respectively. The NO
x
, CO, and smoke
emissions are almost the same level for both fuels even though
the excess air ratio was lower for the water/oil emulsified fuel. It
demonstrated emission suppression effect by using water/oil
emulsified fuel. Also, lower boiler exhaust gas temperature due
to the low excess air ratio suggests improvement of the thermal
efficiency of the boiler.
Fig. 8 shows the operating data of the fuel consumption for pro-
duction of 1 ton of hot water as a function of the amount of hot
water produced. Compare to the use of heavy oil A, the water/oil
emulsified fuel effectively reduced the fuel consumption by more
than 10%.
4.2. Effects of usage of emulsion fuel on the cleanness of boiler tube
surfaces
Fig. 9 shows the photograph of the boiler tube surfaces before
and after the maintenance conducted after one year continuous
usage of the water/oil emulsified fuel. It was proved that the foul-
ing was much less compared to normal heavy oil A usage. And it
was very easy to remove the fouling. That was caused by the reduc-
tion of the soot emission due to the micro-explosion phenomena.
Consequently, use of the water/oil emulsified fuel effectively kept
the cleanliness of boiler tube surfaces, which should, together with
lowering the excess air ratio, improve the thermal efficiency of the
boiler significantly as shown in Fig. 8.
5. Conclusion
In this study, the water/oil emulsified fuel was successfully pro-
duced without any surface active agents. The combustion charac-
teristics of this water/oil emulsified fuel were investigated using
an industrial steam boiler. Also, the commercial long term opera-
tion was carried out in a commercially operating hot water boiler
to investigate the effects of this emulsified fuel on pollutant emis-
sion reduction and energy saving. The results can be summarized
as follows.
The reduction in NO
x
and dust emissions can be achieved by
using water/oil emulsified fuel even with lower excess air ratio
compared to the heavy oil A.
Up to 10% of the water content ratio, there were no significant
change (or a slight increase at the excess air ratio of 1.1) in the
thermal efficiency. But it decreased by increasing the water con-
tent ratio above 10%.
The excess air ratio can be reduced for the water emulsified fuel
without increasing the NO
x
and dust emissions which effectively
increases the thermal efficiency of the boiler.
It was demonstrated that there was more than 10% energy sav-
ing by a long duration operation of using the water/oil emulsified
fuel in the commercially operating water heating boiler, as well
as suppression of NO
x
and soot emissions. The thermal efficiency
improvement can be attributed to the lower excess ratio operation
as well as the improvement of the heat transfer performance due
to the cleanness of boiler tube surfaces by the reduction of dust
emission.
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Comparison of commercial boiler operation for heavy oil A and water/oil emulsified
fuel.
Fuel Heavy
oil A
Water emulsified fuel (water
content of 13%)
Heavy oil A flow rate (L/h) 64.5 60.5
Excess air ratio 1.4 1.3
Exhaust temperature of the
flue gas (°C)
265 240
NO
x
emission (ppm) 78 70
CO emission (ppm) 14 17
Smoke number 0 0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
0 50 100 150
C
o
n
s
u
m
p
t
i
o
n

o
f

h
e
a
v
y

o
i
l

A

p
e
r

o
n
e

t
o
n

o
f

h
o
t

w
a
t
e
r

[
L
/
t
]
Amount of hot water produced [t/day]
Heavy oil A
Water emulsified fuel
Fig. 8. Consumption of heavy oil A per ton of hot water produced as a function of
the amount of hot water produced.
Fig. 9. Before and after maintenance of boiler tube surfaces after continuous one
year usage of the water/oil emulsified fuel.
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