Practical Considerations for Converting Boilers to Burn Natural Gas

Nathaniel S. Schindler
Allen Adriani
Combustion Components Associates, Inc.


Pulp and paper mill engineers and operations managers will benefit from the practical guidance provided to assess
their facility to use low cost natural gas in their boilers. Basic principles of burning natural gas are discussed along
with impacts on the current equipment. The differences associated with converting major power boiler types -package boilers and field-erected wall and t-fired units – are reviewed. Other boilers – biomass and coal stokers,
recovery boilers, and fluidized bed boilers -- can utilize natural gas as an auxiliary fuel for startup or load carrying
capacity. The paper includes options and limitations related to keeping your current fuel for use during emergencies
or in the event of market changes. Standards for safety and controls are reviewed. Emission control methods
associated with natural gas are also discussed. Meeting NOx permit limitations can be a significant factor in the cost
of converting a boiler to burn natural gas. Any calculation of the return on investment and determination of the
feasibility of converting to natural gas must incorporate NOx emissions and associated control technologies to be

Conversion to natural gas is an important opportunity in the pulp and paper industry today. Energy costs represent a
significant portion of fixed costs for pulp and paper mills and the reduced cost and complexity of firing natural gas
can add to the mills profit. Returns on investment of 1 year are not uncommon, making natural gas conversions
attractive, even in these times of lean capital expenditures. But not all projects are equal. Mills have been seeking
feasibility studies to determine the practicality and cost considerations of switching to natural gas. This paper
presents some of the technical considerations of implementing a natural gas conversion.


Comparison of natural gas combustion properties;
Natural gas emissions fundamentals;
Common uses for natural gas at a pulp and paper mill;
Basic requirements of all natural gas conversion projects;
Special considerations with respect to boiler configurations;
Safety, controls, and NOx reduction techniques.


This section of the paper will briefly touch on the general differences between burning natural gas and burning other
fuels. Mechanisms of generating emissions by burning natural gas, particularly NOx, will be discussed. A general
overview of the effectiveness of NOx reduction methods is also provided.

Impacts to Existing Equipment

Converting from coal, oil, or biomass to natural gas changes stoichiometry, combustion air requirements, and the
total combustion products. All of these impact the impact existing equipment, including FD and ID fans. The
change in combustion product temperature, quantity, and composition affect the velocities and heat absorption
within the boiler, superheater and economizer.
During a feasibility study, the existing heat transfer surfaces must be evaluated to avoid high temperatures, to
maintain adequate temperature differentials in the boiler walls, and to preserve proper boiler circulation. The
differences between current operations and anticipated operation on natural gas should be thoroughly reviewed early
in the project. Actual steam output firing natural gas can be reduced relative to other fuels in the same boiler.
Natural gas flames produce lower radiational energy when compared to oil, coal and most other fuels. Therefore,
radiant heat transfer in the lower furnace is lower for natural gas and convective heat transfer is increased through

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the superheater. Boiler tube modifications may be required to maintain existing steaming capacity. Assess this
early in the project so that capital costs of modifications and steam capacity limits can be accurately assessed.


Many different types of fuels can be burned inside a boiler. Biomass, coal, oil and gas are among the common fuels.
Table 1 compares natural gas to these fuels. NFPA 85 defines natural gas as a gaseous fuel that is comprised of
methane, propane, ethane and butane with a heating value of between 700
and 1000 .

#6 Oil

Table 1: Typical Fuel Combustion Properties
Mass Air to
% Excess
Mass Fuel
≈ 21,000




≈ 18,100




Emissions Formation Fundamentals

Boiler emissions have, during the last thirty years, come under the scrutiny of not only the U.S. EPA but also local
and state governments. Solid and liquid fuels typically are highly regulated for a variety of emissions, including
opacity, particulate, oxides of sulfur (SOx), mercury, nickel, carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds
(VOCs), and NOx. Many of these pollutants are a result of components in the fuel or difficulties with combustion.
Modern natural gas supplies have very few contaminants that cause pollution. Modern natural gas burners are well
adapted to burn cleanly and completely. The primary pollutant of concern is NOx. CO and opacity are typically
regulated because NOx reduction techniques, as discussed below, focus on reducing the flame temperature and can
result in elevated CO or opacity. Opacity is typically not an issue with gas. When burning gas, VOC and particulate
rates can often be higher at the FD fan inlet then at the boiler outlet.
2.3.1 Thermal NOx. By reducing combustion temperature, the production of NOx can be reduced. NOx
formation is a function of temperature. The higher the combustion temperature, the greater the NOx produced.
During the combustion process, the majority of the NOx is formed after the flame front (Borman, 1998), termed
thermal NOx. The Zeldovich mechanisms are the six mechanisms for thermal NOx production (Borman 1998):

O+N 2  NO+N


N+O2  NO+O


The reactions are shown in the order in which they occur, with the first reaction dominating. The other reactions
depend on completion of the first. When combustion temperature is lowered, the first equation will have a slower
reaction rate. The rate of formation for the first reaction is given by the following equations (Heywood, 1988):

d  NO
 k1 O N2   k1  NO N   k2  N O2 
k2  NOO  k3  N OH   k3  NO H 

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d N
 k1 O N2   k1  NO N   k2  N O2 
k2  NOO  k3  N OH   k3  NO H 


The forward and reverse rate constants are denoted as kn. At lower temperatures there is less activation energy in
the mixture and thereby the rate of NOx formation is reduced. Temperature, molecular surface area and
concentration all influence the activation energy level (Kuo, 2005). Since the physical surface area of the molecule
cannot be changed, temperature and concentration become the controlling factors to reduce NO and NO2.
When the reaction rate is reduced by temperature, the first mechanism reduces the concentration of NO and N. This
reduces the potential reactants in the second mechanism. Therefore, a reduction of temperature for the first reaction
introduces a limiting factor for NOx emissions. For that reason, the objective of the technology to be applied is to
reduce thermal NOx by lowering the reaction temperature.
CO emission is effected by combustion temperature and excess air. When combustion temperature is too low, CO
will not burnout reducing boiler efficiency. When excess air is insufficient, the CO emissions will increase because
O2 is insufficient to complete the reaction of CO to CO2. There is a range of excess air that is optimal to minimize
both CO and NOx emissions.
2.3.2 Prompt NOx. Ultra low NOx is not merely a name change from low NOx. Ultra low NOx is usually defined
as less than 10 ppm NOx corrected to 3% O2. The important difference is that below 10 ppm, prompt NOx
mechanisms, not thermal NOx mechanisms, dominate the formation of NOx. Prompt NOx is formed by the reaction
of nitrogen from the combustion air with combustion radicals formed at the outset of the combustion process in the
fuel rich zones. Prompt NOx occurs almost instantaneously and cannot be controlled by reducing peak flame
temperature, hence the apt name “prompt”.
NOx emissions lower than 10 ppm are not achievable through the use of staged fuel and air low-NOx burner designs.
A complete change in the burner concept is required to reduce or eliminate prompt NOx. Ultra low NOx burners that
rely on high volumes of flue gas recirculation (FGR) (typically recirculating 30% of the flue gas mass or more) have
been developed for single burner boilers or two burner unison fired boilers. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) can
be a cost-effective alternative to Ultra-Low NOx burners because of technical and control limitations on multi-burner
boilers with pre-heated air.

Package Units

Package boilers are probably the easiest to convert to natural gas. Typically, package boilers at pulp and paper mills
are backup or standby boilers available for use in the event of an emergency or boiler shutdown. Package boilers
range in size from 10,000 pounds per hour steam to 250,000 pounds per hour steam. They are designed to be
constructed completely in a factory and transported to the site in a package. Many industrial units are designed to
generate 125 psig steam. Two package unit designs are prevalent in the United States -- firetube and watertube
boilers. Firetube boilers usually generate less than 50,000 pounds per hour steam. Watertube package boilers are
available up to 250,000 lbs/hr steam output. They are typically provided with one burner, but occasionally with two
burners on a larger unit.
The biggest distinction between a package watertube boiler and larger multi-burner units is that package units
almost never utilize an air heater to preheat combustion air. This helps keep the size of the unit small, but comes at
a cost. Using ambient combustion air lowers the overall efficiency of package units compared to preheated
combustion air units, sometimes as an alternative to an air preheater a more expensive economizer can be added to
improve efficiency. Ambient combustion air units have lower NOx than preheated combustion air units because the
cold air lowers the peak flame temperature. This past spring, some mills utilized their gas-fired package units as
baseload boilers because the low cost of natural gas justified their operation despite a lower efficiency than their
field erected coal units.

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and Multiple. Package boiler burners are relatively standardized in designs for fuel oil and natural gas. the high heat value components of #6 fuel oil can volatilize leaving a viscous slurry that is difficult to burn when needed. burns better in the tight furnace of a package unit. #6 fuel oil is not compatible with ultra low NOx burners.) Figure 1: Low NOx Gas Manifold Natural gas combustion is slightly less efficient than oil combustion because of the latent heat in the exhaust gas. Many paper mills considering conversion of existing coal-fired multi-burner units are also evaluating purchase of gas and oil fired package units. An investment in gas burners can help provide flexible. Preheating the combustion air with a flue gas air heater provides a significant performance benefit. Therefore. Other liquid and gaseous fuels can be burned in package burners as waste fuels or auxiliary fuels.2 Field Erected Units Multi-burner field erected units are distinguished from package units by:    Preheated combustion air. A gallon of #2 fuel oil is more expensive than a gallon of #6 fuel oil.25 lb/mmBtu) and low NOx #2 fuel oil (~0. Because of the high sulfur content and other fuel components. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2302 . the overall costs of handling #2 fuel oil as a backup fuel can be lower. 3. so windbox modifications or new windboxes are often required for new burners. Capability to burn pulverized coal. If the oil is expected to be burned only rarely. while meeting the strictest of regulations. However.1 lb/mmBtu) atomizers are available. A new burner or burner modification can be relatively easily implemented. Low NOx #6 fuel oil (~0. and oil burners are available and can be a solid investment for the mill’s future. One disadvantage of pre-heated air is the relatively higher NOx emissions from heated air gas burners relative to cold air units. low-cost energy. however. independently controlled burners. Low NOx burner modifications can include a low NOx gas manifold that also retains the capability to fire oil. then purchasing new package units may be cost-effective. New fuel and air staged burners can be longer. If a mill is willing to commit to natural gas for all its fired energy requirements. the need to reduce NOx emissions may be a significant factor in your conversion of a multi-burner unit. maintaining high boiler efficiencies. It enhances efficiency because more energy is recovered from the unit so less fuel energy is needed to produce a unit of process heat. and does not require heating. #2 fuel oil is easier to handle.Package units typically burn either natural gas or fuel oil. The new environmental regulations calling for reduced CO emissions from coal fired boilers are a concern. consideration should be given to converting to #2 fuel oil as a backup fuel. If the package unit is designed to burn #6 fuel oil. (Figure 1. providing flexibility amidst fluctuations in the energy market. dual fuel gas and coal or even multi-fuel gas. However. coal. the oil combustion air supply is often sufficient for gas firing because oil burners require a higher excess air level to complete combustion and reduce opacity than gas. and reducing capital costs of the conversion. Coal can be efficiently burned in a field erected unit because the preheated air reduces the energy required to complete combustion. Most oil burners can be modified with a replacement fuel gas assembly in place of the oil burner.

Therefore. Each corner has buckets providing combustion air and fuel into the furnace.2 Tangent fired field erected units. and Figure 3: Tangent Fired Multi‐Fuel Burner perhaps multiple levels. Wall-fired burners are typically round. All three fuels can be readily integrated with burners in the same corners. Typical natural gas pressures at the burner are 12 to 15 psig. Even when the register must be replaced. The FD fans on most coal boilers have sufficient capacity for a natural gas burner. The burners are arranged to produce a single swirling flame.) Low NOx natural gas burners rely on fuel and air staging to reduce peak flame temperature.Multi-burner boilers are typically arranged in two ways. 3. burner throat pressure parts are not usually required to convert a coal or oil burner to natural gas. These mechanisms help to ensure that each burner has a good fuel to air ratio under a Figure 2: Wall Fired Multi Fuel Burner variety of operating conditions. Tangent fired units are designed with burners located in each of four corners on a single level. They can be arranged on a single level or multiple levels. Unlike other burner arrangements in which each flame is independent. in some cases all burners can be left in service all the time. The cycling of burners in and out as load swings can also be reduced. Tangent fired burner designs also permit firing of coal.1 Wall‐fired field erected boilers. adding and removing burners as load changes is minimized. reducing overall project cost. even with a higher pressure loss. Wall-fired burners have integrated registers or dampers to balance air to each burner and isolate burners that are not firing.) Because of the relatively higher turndown of natural gas. especially if it is burning oil as a primary fuel. The burners are designed to create and maintain their own flame.2. low NOx natural gas flames tend to be longer and wider than older coal or oil flames with the same heat input. Also. All four burners on a level are designed to fire together and create a swirl zone in the center of the furnace with a single stable flame.2. 3. They can be fired from a single wall or opposed fired. while oil burners are limited to approximately 6:1 and coal burners are limited to 3:1. Burners on wallfired units are arranged in rows and columns on one or more walls of the boiler. On the other hand. if the plant is eliminating coal. tangent fired burners are designed to have interacting flames supporting combustion across the furnace. low NOx natural gas burners offer significantly higher turndowns than coal or oil burners. for two burner multi-burner units. Modifying a tangent boiler to burn natural gas. oil or gas. Tangent fired or corner fired units are multi-burner boilers with 4 burners per level. Low-NOx gas burner retrofits capable of burning coal and oil are available. one in each corner per level. The safety system and controls become much less complicated. The existing burners can often be modified to accept a low NOx natural gas burner manifold in the center. the total number of burners can sometimes be reduced. this should also be evaluated during the feasibility investigation. should be 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2303 . Therefore. This permits reuse of dampers and actuators and reduces installation cost and time. Burner flame length can be reduced by increasing pressure drop through the burner. (Figure 3. wall-fired and tangent or corner-fired. Tangent fired burners often can tilt to move the fireball up or down to control steam temperature. unison firing should be considered. (Figure 2. Natural gas burners are capable of 10:1 turndown. However.

Converting the duct burners from oil to natural gas is relatively straightforward. Emissions from auxiliary burners on stoker units tend to be higher than similar sized multi-burner units because of the higher excess air requirement to keep the grate cool. Natural gas burners on stoker units usually will not be able to supply the same steam output as the solid fuels due to the reduced radiant heat transfer in the lower furnace. 3. They are used for warm-up of the boiler and the furnace so that the liquor will burn. over-fire air is incorporated above the grate to complete combustion and reduce CO emissions. incorporating natural gas buckets requires minimal modification to the existing corner buckets. The auto-ignition temperature of natural gas is greater than the auto-ignition temperature of oil. a CFD model can be a useful tool to identify the cost-effectiveness of various emission technologies. The grate over-fire air is not to be confused with over-fire air for NOx emissions control. These igniters can be used to warm up the boiler and support combustion of the coal. 3. FGR can sometimes be used to cool the grate when firing natural gas.1 Stoker units. typically at the secondary air level above the bed. They are also used during shutdown to burn out the bed and reduce the liquor content. 3. If low emissions are critical. the duct and lance burners are shut off. Starting burners also lack sophisticated fuel and air control and air enters the furnace through a variety of openings. These burners are essential to the proper operation of the boiler. feeders and other coal equipment. When firing natural gas alone.3. The primary purpose is as a startup gun. 3. the undergrate air impacts the fuel to air ratio and total excess air.2 Fluidized bed boilers.3 Auxiliary Fuel Boilers Paper mills often have hog fuel or coal stokers. Typically. Load burners are typically located on the tertiary air level high in the furnace. The lance burners warm up the boiler and bed material and ignite the solid fuel. so a boiler study is necessary. Auxiliary burners are utilized in recovery boilers for a couple of purposes.considered a priority because of the low cost of modifying the burners and the high cost of oil. Low NOx gas and coal modifications are possible by incorporating current generation swirlers to stabilize a core flame and enhance fuel staging. low-cost natural gas igniters are often a cost-effective means of keeping the boiler warm. which ignites the lance burners. it is generally straightforward to convert and follow many of the same principles as multi-burner boilers. emissions from starting burners are often higher than from load burners. During low demand periods. Once the solid fuel is fired. When burning fuel in the auxiliary burners. Therefore. Many of these boilers have oil igniters or starting guns that can be modified to burn natural gas. the mill can shut down the coal mills. discussed above. A significant difference between stoker units and multiburner units is that the grate must always be kept cool with undergrate air. Modifications to the circulation system to reach full load firing gas are not uncommon. Duct burners are used to preheat the furnace to the auto-ignition temperature. When these boilers have existing auxiliary burners capable of oil firing. fluidized bed boilers. However.3 Recovery boilers. oil igniters providing 10% of the heat input are typical. These boilers also have the ability to supplement load capacity through upper level natural gas burners. The burners can be arranged as tangent fired units or wall units. Converting the lances from oil to natural gas is more complicated. As part of the combustion air system for the grate fire. Replacing these igniters with natural gas igniters can provide a significant return on investment. On tangent fired coal units.3. maximizing the uptime of these units. Recovery boilers utilize liquor generated in the paper making process to generate steam.3. They often have an independent 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2304 . Auxiliary fuel burners capable of burning oil or gas can be installed above the grate. and liquor recovery boilers. Air to the grate must be controlled while firing natural gas to keep NOx emissions low while ensuring complete combustion. Fluidized bed boilers utilize oil or natural gas duct burners and lances for warming the bed and starting the coal or biomass main fuel. saving energy and operating costs. Furnace openings at the starting burner elevation are often small to limit leakage air through the burner openings when not in use. We are not aware of any commercially available ultra low NOx burners for tangent fired units. Stoker units burn solid fuel on a grate. Auxiliary heat input above approximately 50% of design heat input will likely require modifications of the superheater and circulation system. so startup times may be increased to reach the solid fuel starting temperature. the solid fuel is hog fuel (a biomass product) or coal. The current coal buckets and oil burners can be retained often with no changes.

biomass or coal safety systems. Specific recommendations for auxiliary fuel firing and waste fuel firing provide useful information about the requirements of safely firing natural gas or waste fuel in a black liquor recovery boiler. In many states. Most of the time. These are often designed for about 50% of boiler design steam output. AND EMISSIONS Natural gas safety systems are specialized to avoid boiler explosions by controlling when fuel can be let into the furnace. an appropriate design standard such as NFPA 54. NFPA 85 was completely revamped around 2000 and has been updated a few times since then.1 or B31. Periodic fugitive tests of threaded connections and valve stems are also important to prevent and detect leaks in the boiler room. NFPA requirements have been adopted as regulatory or legal requirements. emission controls can double the cost of the project. FM has many standards and general requirements that apply to natural gas burner and piping systems for single and multi burner boilers. Load burners can be installed as wall burners or tangent burners. Implementing NOx control technologies are often similar in cost to modifying the burners. duct burners. On older systems. CONTROLS. flame scanners.04 lb/mmBtu is required. FM also provides approval of certain products used in the natural gas firing system. Motorized valves that don’t require instrument air to operate are rated to 40 to 60 psig. a completely new burner management system may be required along with upgrades to the oil. NFPA 85 includes additional specific tests that must be performed on a regular basis to reduce the potential for explosions. For the most part. When constructing new natural gas piping. If 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2305 .1 lb/mmBtu or less. Recovery boilers without existing load burners usually have sufficient height to incorporate new load burners. these requirements are consistent with NFPA 85. Pressure regulating valves and safety relief venting valves are a required part of most natural gas piping systems. Factory Mutual (FM) and BLRBAC. If NOx emission levels less than 0. Natural gas pipelines for paper mills are often brought in at pressures up to 600 psig to keep line size small. which scan the igniter only as more repeatable in the dynamic furnace environment of a recovery boiler. A periodic leak test of the natural gas safety valves is necessary to prevent boiler explosions. and pressure switches. Safety control valves are limited to pressure ratings in accordance with FM test procedures. Adding natural gas burners will require modifications to the existing burner management system to incorporate the necessary interlocks and startup sequence for gas firing. NOx control technologies will probably be required for preheated combustion air units to meet permit requirements. BLRBAC has also produced some helpful recommendations for black liquor recovery boilers. Class 1 igniters can also be utilized to verify combustion of waste gases in the auxiliary burners. and burner management system is critical. Lead time on these devices is often around 16 weeks and is typically the critical path item for a conversion project.3 and testing ensure that the system does not have leaks before natural gas is connected. increase efficiency. existing port openings and registers for oil burners can be reused. These products include the safety shut-off valves. Heat transfer from the load burners to the lower furnace will be limited by the high elevation of the burner in the boiler and the limited luminosity of the gas flame reducing heat transfer to the lower furnace. Local building codes or insurance requirements may limit the pressure of the gas piping in the building.1 Safety Natural gas safety standards have been well developed of the years by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Controlling the fuel and air ratio properly is also essential to avoid boiler explosions. 4 SAFETY. ASME B31. NFPA 54 provides standards for natural gas piping design. and meet emission requirements. If your state has NOx limits of 0. pulverized coal burners and fluidized bed burners. implementing operating and maintenance systems to verify the continued integrity of the natural gas piping. natural gas safety valves. In addition. Class I igniters are typical for startup and load burners. Pneumatic valves are typically rated for 130 psig. This pressure will need to be reduced and controlled to a pressure of 12 to 25 psig at the natural gas burner. 4. NFPA 85 is an industry standard for the burner management system of single burner and multi-burner gas and oil burners. Flame detection of the igniter is also less susceptible to interference from slag from the liquor process. Due to the dangers associated with the explosive nature of natural gas.ambient air combustion supply. At some point in the project the insurance carrier must be involved to insure a smooth project and eliminate rework.

Early discussions with your state regulators on an adhoc basis can sometimes be fruitful for a smooth project. Ultra low NOx burners and SCR are the only methods for reaching emissions of less than 0. Individual burner airflow measurement is also used for some co-firing applications.1 Low NOx burners. Typical uncontrolled NOx from low NOx field erected natural gas boilers range from 0. burners out of service (BOOS).000-8. air/fuel ratios are all techniques that low NOx burners use. the controls become much more complex.2 Controls Control systems for natural gas firing vary based on boiler type and emission control requirements. Fuel and air staging burner modifications provide further NOx reductions. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2306 .12 to 0. these technologies can be layered to maximize NOx reductions and minimize costs. % Compared to Conventional Gas Burners 25-75% Annualize $/Ton NOx Removed $900 25% $400-600 50-80% $1.04 lb/mmBtu. The table shows each technology individually and compares the potential decrease in NOx emissions on boilers between these technologies.1 lb/mmBtu without additional control technology. Depending on the requirements of the project.01 lb/mmBtu.pulverized coal is still expected to be used. air and fuel will be controlled independently through a fully metered control system driven by a DCS. Low NOx technologies include: FGR. By incorporating air/fuel balancing to reduce overall excess air to the burners significant reductions in NOx and CO can be achieved.3 lb/mmBtu depending on boiler type and furnace design. 4. then dust tight electrical enclosures may be required. Implementing natural gas burners with the ability to co-fire with the biomass or other primary fuel require separate air measurement to the natural gas burners and the grate. and water injection. Typical NOx emissions from low NOx gas burners in a package unit firing natural gas are 0. overfire air (OFA). furnace exit CO. NOx control technologies can be added in various combinations to reduce NOx emissions from gas fired boilers to approximately 0. It is important to have balanced airflow distribution and balanced fuel flow distribution between the burners as this is the foundation to achieving NOx reduction. selective noncatalytic reduction (SNCR). Combustion air.3. If cofiring more than one fuel in a burner is contemplated. furnace exit oxygen. and natural gas flow are common measurements. low NOx burners. Table 2 lists emission reduction technologies considered. For most paper mills.3 Emissions Controls There are several technologies on the market today to control NOx formation in natural gas fired boilers. depending on the emissions control technology implemented.500 25% $70-100 0-20% $30-50 90% $6. balancing. 4.000-$8.300-1. Table 2: Comparison of NOx Technologies Reduction Method FGR OFA/BOOS SOFA & FGR Low NOx Burner Low Excess Air (Air and Fuel Balance) Ultra Low NOx Burners SCR Water Injection Decrease in NOx. These same techniques can be applied to existing oil and coal burners.000 25-35% $400-600 4. FGR.000 90% $6. The low NOx burner geometry produces a stable flame. Emissions controls to meet permitting levels for natural gas burners can be a significant percentage of the conversion project cost. combustion air oxygen. air staging. Fuel staging. and over-fire air flow rate.

compatibility with #6 fuel oil and SOFA. By decreasing the air/fuel ratio of the burner to run rich. Older OFA port designs are not as effective as current generation of OFA ports.3 Water injection. This method has several advantages:    Ducting runs from flue gas outlet to FD fan inlet are typically short. The remaining required combustion air is supplied through the BOOS to complete combustion. FGR can also be provided through a separate FGR fan. The increased velocity increases heat transfer to the superheater. Existing FD fan often provides sufficient pressure and flow characteristics to induce 10% FGR when converting from coal without upgrading the fan or motor. The additional costs can be offset by corresponding benefits. typically cannot be used with #6 fuel oil or coal because sulfuric acid tends to condense in the FD fan when mixed with cold combustion air. and Tipping the fan. water injection has minimal impact on combustion air or flue gas flow.5 Separated overfire air. and increasing fan speeds are low cost options of increasing fan capacity.3. slowing combustion and reducing the available oxygen for reaction with free nitrogen. 4. By targeting the hot spots in the flame. discussed below. FGR reduces thermal NOx by increasing the specific heat of the combustion mixture to reduce the flame temperature (Agrawal. Induced FGR. 2004). causing major damage to the fan wheel and housing.3. FGR is a common emission control technology for gas and oil units. In some cases. An alternative to dedicated OFA ports is a tuning technique known as burners out of service (BOOS). Overfire air (OFA) is a NOx reduction technique that removes a portion of the combustion air from the burner windbox. In addition. Unlike FGR. current generation OFA systems are capable of 25% NOx reduction with minimal impact to the unit operation. FGR increases mass flow through the furnace and the boiler back pass. This technique provides an additional layer of air staging to the furnace zone. thereby decreasing CO and overall NOx. flame temperature and thermal NOx is reduced. It is often used as a topping technology where NOx reduction is only required at full load and not used at lower loads. OFA has been incorporated in multi-burner units since the 1970’s. upgrading the motor. original OFA ports have been removed because they were ineffective or caused boiler performance and maintenance issues. OFA is then directed to the OFA ports without any combustion air and all of the FGR is directed to the burners. Separated overfire air (SOFA) is similar to OFA with the exception that the OFA stream is separated from the burner combustion air prior to the introduction of FGR. In some boilers. SOFA. Using CFD modeling. Similar to adding FGR. particularly those constructed for coal only.4 Overfire air. the combustion is completed and the remaining CO is burned out. Heat transfer in the superheater is only minimally impacted and the implementation costs can be very low. is incompatible with induced FGR. and reuse of the existing FD fan if its capacity is limited. Segregating the OFA 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2307 . When the diverted air is introduced above the burners. BOOS is implemented by taking one burner or row of burners out of service. This method is called boosted FGR. in that an additional fan is required and the ductwork is typically longer and more complicated. Combustion tempering can reduce NOx 25% with just 1 gal/min per 100 mmBtu/hr heat input. however. discussed below. Adding FGR also lowers the concentration of O2 available in the combustion zone. This air is introduced to OFA ports located above the burners. Fans are typically not impacted. 4. Out-of-service burners act as OFA ports by permitting the remaining burners to run lean. Providing OFA without FGR assists with burnout of CO at the OFA level. 4. Boosted FGR is more expensive than induced FGR. including higher FGR levels. The easiest and least costly method is by inducing FGR into the existing FD fan.3. injecting water into the flame is an effective means of reducing thermal NOx and is known as water injection.3. BOOS reduces boiler efficiency by increasing the excess O2 requirement by about 1%. boiler circulation and superheater attemperation capacity will be even more important at high FGR rates. FGR can be provided to the burners through a couple of methods.4.2 Flue gas recirculation. FGR is the recirculation of flue gases into the combustion air stream to the burner.

3. Existing FD fans also cannot usually provide sufficient static pressure to overcome the increase in burner pressure drop from 5-6 in w. typical for utra-low NOx burners. Ultra-low NOx gas burners in package units are capable of achieving less than 0. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) utilizes urea reagent injected in the flue gas ductwork upstream of a catalyst.7 Post combustion treatment. placement of the SNCR injection system at the proper temperature is critical for maximum NOx reduction with minimal ammonia slip. However. A. passes through the catalyst. They are not compatible with burning coal.. These differences can double the cost of converting versus a low NOx burner retrofit. backup and alternate fuel strategies should be developed to reduce the impact of fluctuations in fuel price. Investigation early on to determine the steaming rate of the unit firing natural gas. M. The high FGR rate impacts both the FD and ID fans.c.3 lb/mmBtu without additional control technology. In contrast. Urea or ammonia based systems are available.05 lb/mmBtu. An existing FD fan usually cannot accommodate a 30% increase in FGR flow. emission requirements.increases the percentage of FGR through the burner without increasing the total mass flow of FGR. 5 CONCLUSION Natural gas can be readily incorporated in a mill’s overall energy plan. 6 REFERENCES  Agrawal. The windbox often will need to be replaced or extended to accommodate the longer burner. Ultra-low NOx burners require approximately 30% FGR.c.01 lb/mmBtu on preheated air units.01 lb/mmBtu with 30% FGR. Sadhan. Existing capital equipment can often be repurposed or modified to take advantage of the low cost and ease of operation associated with firing natural gas. which can exceed the design temperature of the ID fan. A separate FGR fan or tipping the FD fan may be options to reuse the existing equipment. S. The existing SNCR injectors would need to be evaluated to determine if the injector location is appropriate for natural gas firing. low NOx burners in field erected units are typically 0. New burner pressure part openings may be required to accommodate the larger burner throats. it is not generally as cost-effective as other comparable low NOx technologies. Ultra-low NOx burners cannot be combined with #6 fuel oil or coal.). Ultra low NOx burners are not proven below 0. and impacts on other equipment will ease the transition and maximize the benefits associated with converting to natural gas.6 Ultra‐low NOx burners. Multi-fuel burner modifications are possible and can make sense for the longterm. Effect of EGR on The Exhaust Gas Temperature and Exhaust Opacity in Compression Ignition Engines. 4.. Ultra low NOx burners are not compatible with burning #6 fuel oil because of the high sulfur content and other contaminants in the flue gas. typical for standard burners to 10-12 in w. Determining whether the existing SNCR system can be reused and predicting the performance often involves CFD modeling.. which can damage the burner. Sufficient temperature in the flue gas must be available for the catalyst to convert the ammonia and NOx to N2. When the flue gas. SNCR is worth considering if the unit has already implemented or is planning to implement SNCR for NOx control of coal or oil emissions.12 to 0. In addition. Volume 29. and Shulka. but has not been shown to reduce emissions below approximately 0. including ammonia. and Ultra-low NOx burners require a high pressure drop (10-12 in w. Ultra-low NOx burners vary from low. the NOx and ammonia react to produce nitrogen and water.NOx burners in several ways:     Ultra-low NOx burners are longer and have a larger throat diameter. SNCR systems can be effective to reduce NOx while firing natural gas. The FGR increases the flue gas exit temperature. 30% FGR may raise the temperature at the FD fan inlet above its design temperature. As part of the mills strategic planning. urea has almost no siting concerns while ammonia is a hazardous chemical that must be sited and handled more carefully then urea. June 2004. This technique maximizes the benefits of FGR and OFA and provides combined emissions reductions of approximately 75% on natural gas.c. 4. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2308 . Part 3. Singh.3.

Wiley. 2005.. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2309 . Kou.. and Ragland K. J. McGraw-Hill Inc.. Internal Combustion Engines. McGraw-Hill Inc. 1998...B. 1988. Principles of Combustion.. K. Second Edition. Combustion Engineering.   Borman G. Heywood.

Connecticut 06468 Tel: (203) 268-3139 Fax: (203) 261-7697 www. INC. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2310 . GA Presented by Nathan Schindler COMBUSTION COMPONENTS ASSOCIATES.Practical Guide to Converting to Natural Gas Presented to TAPPI-PEERS October 2012 Savannah. 884 Main Street.cca-inc.

Emission fundamentals. • Safety.Introduction • • • • Comparison of combustion properties. controls. and NOx reduction techniques. Basic requirements of conversion projects. Special considerations with respect to boiler configurations. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2311 .

0 inwc Windbox Differential Atomizing Steam Mass Ratio with Fuel Flow and Atomizing Differential 0.5 0.5% Steam Mass ratio 5.3 0.Natural Gas Properties •Combustion Properties Normalized Air/Fuel Ratio Spatial Distribution •Formation of Emissions Measured 12 Inches Downstream of Atomizer 140 psi fuel at 12.2 0.0 0 5 10 15 Fuel Flow Rate .gp m/burner Map-aof 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2312 20 25 30 .1 0.Ms/Mf •Impacts to Existing Equipment Atomizing Steam Differential 0 psid 10 psid 20 psid 30 psid 0.5 gpm 15 psi Differential 10.4 Atomizing Mass Ratio .

100 10.000 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2313 .000 17.Fuel Properties Fuel Type Natural Gas #6 Oil Coal Biomass HHV Mass Air to % Excess Typical Boiler BTU/LBm Mass Fuel Air Efficiency ≈ 21.7 25-30 84-86% 13.23 10-15 82-84% ≈ 18.8 25-32 84-86% 9.3004.00010.63 10-15 85-88% 11.000 7.

quantity. and composition affect the velocities and heat absorption within the boiler.Impacts to Existing Equipment • FD and ID Fans – Stoichiometry – combustion air requirements – total combustion products • Boiler – Combustion product temperature. superheater and economizer 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2314 .

• The higher the combustion temperature. • Dominant mechanism of NOx formation for low NOx gas burners. the greater the NOx produced. 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2315 . • By reducing combustion temperature. the production of NOx can be reduced.Thermal NOx • NOx formation is a function of temperature.

NOx (ppm) Production vs. Temperature (F) 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2316 .

Prompt NOx • Dominant mechanism of NOx formation for ultra-low NOx • Formed by the reaction of nitrogen from air with combustion radicals formed in fuel rich zones • Occurs almost instantaneously and cannot be controlled by reducing peak flame temperature 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2317 .

5% Steam Mass ratio 5.0 0 5 10 15 Fuel Flow Rate .4 Atomizing Mass Ratio .1 0.5 Atomizing Steam Differential 0 psid 10 psid 20 psid 30 psid m/burner Map-aof 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2318 20 25 30 .Ms/Mf •Field Erected Boilers Atomizing Steam Mass Ratio with Fuel Flow and Atomizing Differential 0.0 inwc Windbox Differential •Auxiliary Fuel Boilers 0.2 0.5 gpm 15 psi Differential 10.3 0.Boiler Type Specific Modifications •Package Boilers Normalized Air/Fuel Ratio Spatial Distribution Measured 12 Inches Downstream of Atomizer 140 psi fuel at 12.

Package Units • • • • • • Ambient Combustion Air Lower efficiency Gas/oil Relatively easy to convert Lower NOx Firetube/Watertube 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2319 .

Gas Retrofit Low-NOx Gas Injectors Flame Stabilizer 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2320 .

Field Erected Units • • • • • • Multi-burner Preheated Combustion Air Higher Efficiency Higher NOx Gas/Oil/Coal/Biomass Wall-Fired/T-Fired 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2321 .

Gas Retrofit to Coal Circular Burners Retain Coal Pipe .Retrofit Gas Manifold and Poker Assembly “Around” Coal Pipe Gas Pokers Coal Pipe (Existing Gas Manifold 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2322 .

Gas Retrofit to Coal T-Fired Burners Retrofit Low-NOx Gas Injectors Above & Below Coal Low-NOx Gas Injectors Retrofit Gas Injectors Behind Bucket Flame Stabilizer 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2323 .

Auxiliary Fuel Boilers • Stoker Units – Auxiliary Oil Burners • Fluidized Bed Boilers – Duct Burners – Startup Lances • Recovery Boilers – Startup Burners – Load Burners 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2324 .

Natural Gas Safety.0 inwc Windbox Differential Atomizing Steam Mass Ratio with Fuel Flow and Atomizing Differential 0. m/burner Map-aof 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2325 20 25 30 .2 0.1 0. & Emissions Reduction Technologies Normalized Air/Fuel Ratio Spatial Distribution Measured 12 Inches Downstream of Atomizer 140 psi fuel at 12.4 Atomizing Steam Differential 0 psid 10 psid 20 psid 30 psid 0.Ms/Mf 0.5 gpm 15 psi Differential 10.3 0.0 0 5 10 15 Fuel Flow Rate .5 Atomizing Mass Ratio .5% Steam Mass ratio 5.

Main Gas Valve Train 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2326 .

Overview of Emission Technologies Typical Multi-Burner Boiler 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2327 .

Comparison of NOx Technologies NOx. % Reduction Annualized Cost Factor NOx Removal Low NOx Burner 25% Low OFA/BOOS 25% Low Water Injection 25-35% Low FGR 25-75% Moderate SOFA & FGR 50-80% Moderate Ultra Low NOx Burners 90% High SCR 90% High Reduction Method 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2328 .

Low-NOx Circular Burner 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2329 .

Gas Flame – High FGR 21 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2330 .

Water Injection Skid 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2331 .

SCR vs. SNCR SCR SNCR • Requires Catalyst • 90% or more NOx reduction for UltraLow NOx • Multi-fuel operation presents special problems for catalyst design • No Catalyst Required • 30-50% NOx reduction –Low NOx only • Multi-fuel operation possible but performance highly dependent on temperature profile at injection location 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2332 .

Conclusions 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2333 .

Questions Nathan Schindler 203-268-3139 ext 137 2012 PEERS Conference Page 2334 .cca-inc.