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Furnace Size Varies for Gas, Oil and Coal Firing

Written by: Dr V T Sathyanathan • Edited by: Lamar Stonecypher
Updated Mar 29, 2011 • Related Guides: Fuel

Furnace sizing is a very important for a successful boiler design. The variation in boiler furnace size can
upset the performance drastically. Oil and gas fired units have more uniform sizes, but the coal fired
units have large variation. Chemical recovery boiler furnace is sized for drying fuel.
Boilers designed to generate steam for both industrial and power generation applications use fuels like
coal, oil and gas. Fuel characteristics have a great impact on boiler design. The furnace designed in a
boiler must be so sized that the furnace outlet temperature is predicted and achieved within reasonable
limits. The furnace outlet temperature is the basis for further heat transfer surface design. It is seen that
the furnace size varies considerably between coal fired boilers and oil and gas. The variation between oil
and gas fired boiler furnace size is to a smaller extent only.
Design criteria for boilers
To understand why the furnace size varies between different fuels, we have to have a broad idea about
the design criteria for boilers.

First we should know the energy input level, this will depend on steam flow, feed water
temperature, pressure and temperature of steam, and an assumed efficiency of boiler based on

The energy absorption level needed in boiler and other heat transfer system will have to be
defined or worked out.

Based on the fuel given, for design calculate the fuel quantity, air and flue gas flow required.

Now determine the size and shape of furnace which will require knowledge of burner size, other
combustion systems, emission requirements, ash handling, furnace outlet temperature
limitation, etc.

Design superheaters, reheaters, ecomomisers, and air heaters so that the second pass can be
finalized. Care must be taken to size the heat transfer areas such that any requirement due to
fouling and the erosive nature of fuel is addressed.

Design the desuperheating requirement, location and number of equipment for cleaning of
pressure parts.

Boiler enclosures, supports, piping, expansion guides, and movements are all to be designed and

The code to which the boiler is designed is very important and has to be adhered.

The factors that increase the furnace size are many. the practically obtained flame temperature is much lower around 1700 degree Celsius. the reactivity. the EPRS (Effective Projected Radiant Surface). the furnace sizes will vary considerably depending on the age of the coal. the plan area and the volumetric. ash characteristics. these loadings are much lower for coal fired boilers. The very low % of oil ash needs to be addressed from point of view of high temperature corrosion in heat transfer surface. etc.Coal fired boiler furnaceThe coal fired boiler furnace size is generally higher in volume by 20 to 35 %. Oil fired boiler furnace Oil flame emissivity is higher than coal flame and so results in higher furnace absorption. etc. Normally about 20 % ash is collected as bottom ash in coal fired boiler. It is to be remembered that among coal fired boilers themselves. this factor also influence the furnace size to the higher side.  There are three furnace heat loading adopted by designers. By virtue of experience and field results from boilers. Gas fired boiler furnace When compared to oil. All these factors reduce the furnace size further and result in the lowest furnace size for a similar capacity boiler. . this leads to conservative sizing by designers. As a very general rule the volume of oil fired boiler furnace will have only 65 % of volume of a coal fired boiler furnace. The furnace heat loadings can also be maintained much higher due to near zero % ash. the burner size and numbers go up when compared to oil or gas burners. gas is a much more reactive and cleaner fuel. This allows still higher heat loadings in the furnace.  Even though the adiabatic flame temperature is higher than oil.  Being a solid fuel.  As it is not possible to have an accurate analytical solution for heat transfer in a steam generator furnace.  The ash in coal needs to be addressed and hence the rule of thumb is to keep the furnace outlet temperature lower than initial deformation temperature of ash by 50 degree Celsius. The oil and gas fired boilers have nearly flat furnace bottoms.  The ash deposits on the walls reduce the effectiveness of heat transfer and this is lower in the case of coal fired boilers. when compared to an oil fired boiler.  The lower flame temperature needs more radiant surface to be provided. higher second pass gas velocity.  The reactivity of coal is much lower than oil and hence need more residence time.  The bottom ash handling requirement increase the size of coal fired boiler. depending on coal types.

a size comparison between coal. oil and gas fired boiler furnace is shown. . This is a very rough comparison and is for a specific nature of coal.Just to give an idea.

Boiler Furnace Size Comparison .