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Lecture 7

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Lecture 7 - Steam Generators

A steam generator is a complex combination of econo9mizer, boiler, superheater, reheater, and air
preheater. In addition, it has various auxiliaries, such as stokers, pulverisers, burners, fans, emission
control equipment, stack, and ash handling equipment. A boiler is that portion of the steam generator
where saturated liquid is converted into saturated steam. A steam boiler is a vessel that contains water
and a heat source powered by oil, coal or gas. The boiler transfers heat from the heat source to the
water vessel, thereby turning the water into steam. This steam exits the vessel through a pipe and is
transported to another location where it can be used for cleaning, to power equipment, to provide heat
or for a number of other functions. A closed boiler system is one in which 100 percent of the steam is
returned to the vessel in the form of water and reused. Closed boiler systems are very efficient and
less costly to operate. However, some industrial processes contaminate the steam and prevent it from
being reused. A boiler that does not return the used steam to the water vessel is called an open system.

Mechanics of Steam Boilers

The heat source in a boiler system is located in a separate compartment within the water vessel. The
water vessel is attached to the heat source by metal rods, which heat the water directly and convert it
to steam. The steam initially collects in an area above the water vessel known as the dome before
exiting the boiler. The dome forces the steam to become highly condensed so that it will exit the boiler
with a significant amount of pressure. Pressurized steam is particularly important for industrial
applications such as powering turbines and other heavy equipment. All boilers have a safety valve,
which allows excess steam to be released to prevent explosions. A boiler also contains a drain, which
removes contaminants and sediment from the water vessel, and a chimney, which allows heat to
escape once it has passed through the water vessel.
Usually boilers are coal or oil fired. A boiler should fulfil the following requirements:

Safety. The boiler should be safe under operating conditions.

Accessibility. The various parts of the boiler should be accessible for repair and maintenance.
Capacity. The boiler should be capable of supplying steam according to the requirements.
Efficiency. The boiler should be able to absorb a maximum amount of heat produced due to
burning of fuel in the furnace.
5. It should be simple in construction and its maintenance cost should be low. (The boiler should
be capable of quick starting and loading.
6. The performance of a boiler may be measured in terms of its evaporative capacity also
called power of a boiler. It is defined as the amount of water evaporated or steam produced in
kg per hour.

Types of boilers
There are two main types of boilers: fire tubes and water tubes. In a fire tube boiler, heat is directed
through metal rods that pass through the middle of the water vessel. The rods are arranged in banks so
that the heat can pass through the vessel many times before escaping through the chimney. The fire
tube system exposes the water to the maximum amount of heated surface and also has the maximum
amount of water storage space. In a water tube boiler, the heat is directed through metal rods near the
outside of the water vessel. Water tube boilers are vertical and have the ability to generate more units
of steam per hour but also provide less water storage than fire tube configurations.
However, the boilers can be classified according to the following criteria:

Lecture 7

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According to flow of water and hot gases.

Fire tube
Water tube
According to the circulating water.
Natural circulation
Forced circulation
According to steam pressure.
Low pressure
Medium pressure
Higher pressure

Fire Tube Boilers

In fire tube boiler the hot products of combustion pass through the tubes, which are surrounded, by
Fire tube boilers are classified as:
External furnace
Internal furnace
Various advantages of fire tube boilers are:
Low cost
Fluctuations of steam demand can be met easily
It is compact in size.
Fire Tube Boilers: COCHRAN BOILER

Cylindrical shell
Its crown having a spherical shape.
Hemispherical furnace
Spherical shape requires least material for the volume
Spherical crown gives maximum strength to withstand
the pressure of the steam
Coal or oil can be used as fuel in this boiler
Coal is fed into the grate through the fire door
Formed ash is collected in the ash-pit and is removed
Oil burners are fitted below the fire door
Heat transfer to the water by convection

Other Fire Tube Boilers

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The Straight-Tube boiler

The Bent-Tube boiler (more detail al-wakil p-84)

Water Tube Boilers

In water tube boilers, water circulates through the
tubes and hot products of combustion flow over these
Water Tube Boiler is most common because
of its ability to deliver large quantities of
Water Tube Boiler looks very complicated.
Thousands of tubes are placed in strategic location to optimize the exchange of energy from
the heat to the water in the tubes.
The large tube like structure at the top of the boiler is called the steam drum.
The hundreds of tube start and eventually end up at the steam drum.
Various advantages of water tube boilers are as follows:
1. High pressure can be obtained.
2. Large heating surface can be obtained by use of large number of tubes. Therefore steam can
be generated easily.
Because of high movement of water in the tubes the rate of heat transfer becomes large resulting into
a greater efficiency.
The Radiant boiler
It is the boiler that receives most of its heat by
radiation and is designed for electric-generating
stations that use coal or lignite for pulverized or
cyclone furnace applications, oil or natural gas.
They are limited to subcritical pressure (125-170)
Once through Boiler
It is also called the forced circulation, Benson or universal pressure boiler. It is applicable to all
temperatures and pressures, but economically is suited to large sizes and pressure in the high
subcritical and supercritical range. In this type the feedwater goes through the economizer, furnace
walls and super heater sections in one continuous pass, so no drum is required and no water
recirculation takes place. It demands very high purity water because of the one through process and it
is the only type that can be used by supercritical pressure operation.

Water Tube Boilers vs. Fire Tube Boilers

Water Tube Boilers
are less liable to explosion,
produce higher pressure,
Are accessible and can response quickly to change in steam demand.
Tubes and drums of water-tube boilers are smaller than that of fire-tube boilers and due to
smaller size of drum higher pressure can be used easily.
Water-tube boilers require lesser floor space.
The efficiency of water-tube boilers is more.

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Water tube boilers require less weight of metal for a given size
Fire tube boilers
Fire tube boilers have low initial cost,
Simple design.
Water volume is large and due to poor circulation they cannot
meet quickly the change in steam demand.

Steam Theory

Within the boiler, fuel and air are force into the furnace by the
There, it burns to produce heat.
From there, the heat (flue gases) travels throughout the boiler.
The water absorbs the heat, and eventually absorbs enough to
change into a gaseous state steam.

The water tube boiler

Water enters the boiler, preheated, at the top.

The water naturally circulates through the tubes down to the lower area.
The water heats up and flows back to the steam drum where the steam collects.
Not all the water gets turn to steam, so the process starts again.
Water keeps on circulating until it becomes steam.
Meanwhile, the control system is taking the temperature of the steam drum, along with
numerous other readings, to determine if it should keep the burner burning, or shut it down.
As well, sensors control the amount of water entering the boiler, this water is known as
Feedwater is treated with chemicals to neutralize various minerals in the water, which
untreated, would cling to the tubes clogging or worst, rusting them.
This would make the boiler expensive to operate because it would not be very efficient.
On the fire side of the boiler, carbon deposit resulting from improper combustion or
impurities in the fuel can accumulate on the outer surface of the water tube.
This creates an insulation which quickly decreases the heat transfer from the flue gas to the
To remedy this problem the engineer will carry out soot blowing. At a specified time using a
long device, which has a tip at the end which "blows" steam.
This blowing action of the steam "scrubs" the outside of the water tubes, cleaning the carbon
build up.
Water tube boilers can have pressures from 7 bar to as high as 250 bar.
The steam temperature's can vary between saturated steam, 100 degrees Celsius steam with
particle of water, or be as high as 600 - 650 degrees Celsius, know as superheated steam or
dry steam
The performance of boiler is generally referred to as tons of steam produced in one hour. In
water tube boilers that could be as low as 1.5 t/hr to as high as 2500 t/hr.

The Working Principle

The following describes how a coal-fired power plant incorporating subcritical boiler technology

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Lecture 7

The hot gases from the combustion process move from the bottom left to the top and then down the
right hand side of the boiler structure. As the hot gas moves through the boiler it loses energy to the
water and the gases becomes cooler as a result. There are various heat exchangers in the boiler which
extract energy from the hot gases and transfer it to water.
The following diagram shows the inner workings of a boiler. The numbers in the diagram are
described below.
0. Coal powder and air are blown into the boiler and combust to form a fireball.
1. Cool feedwater enters the boiler at the bottom right.
2. The feedwater is heated in the economizer by the warm exhaust gases exiting the boiler.
3. The warm feedwater is sent to the steam drum (6) where liquid water is separated from steam
formed in the waterwall. In a super critical coal plant steam is not created. Liquid water becomes a
supercritical fluid in the superheaters at a pressure of greater than 221 bar and a temperature of greater
than 400oC. Therefore there is no steam drum. In a supercritical boiler warmed feedwater passes
directly into the downcomers.
4. Liquid water flows down the downcomers on the
outside of the boiler to the bottom of the boiler.
5. Water flows up the tubes in the waterwalls of the
boiler and surround the fireball of burning coal. The
water in the tubes is heated by radiation from the
fireball. Some of the water in these tubes turns into
6. The steam and water in the waterwall tubes is sent
to the steam drum, where steam is separated from
liquid water. Liquid water in the steam drum flows
down the downcomers on the outside of the boiler.
7. Steam from the steam drum is sent to the primary
8. Steam is super heated to a high temperature and
pressure in the primary superheaters and then moves
to the secondary superheaters.
9. In the secondary superheaters steam meets the very
hot gases exiting the top of the boiler. The steam is
heated to its final temperature and pressure before
leaving the boiler as main steam. The main steam is
sent to the high pressure steam turbine. The steam turbines drive a generator which produces
10. Steam exiting the high pressure steam turbine is called cold reheat. It is reheated in the reheater
and sent back to the second steam turbine.
By the time the flue gas exits the boiler most of the energy in the coal will be transferred to the water
in the boiler. The hot gases are cleaned up before they are sent to a stack. Feedwater is generally
supplied by condensed steam from the low pressure steam turbine. Large amounts of cooling water
are used to condense this steam into liquid water in the condenser.

Boiler Calculations
Heat transfer required to form steam
The steam in the boiler is formed at constant pressure, so
Heat transfer required to form 1 kg of steam in the boiler

Energy received from the fuel

( h2h1 ) kJ

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Lecture 7
This is obtained from knowledge of the mass of fuel used and its calorific value.
If the mass of the fuel used is m kg, and the calorific value of fuel is CV kJ/kg, then

Energy received from fuel=( mCV ) kJ

Boiler thermal efficiency
This is given by the ratio of the energy received by the steam to the energy supplied by the fuel to
produce the steam, thus

Boiler thermal efficiency=


(h h )
Energy to steam
= s 2 1 100
Energy from fuel ( mCV

s =mass of steam raised in a given time

of fuel used in the same time

Equivalent evaporation of a boiler

Some boilers can be operated under many different running conditions; for these boilers it is
necessary to have some standard upon which to base, and compare, their respective evaporative
capacities. The standard commonly adopted is the equivalent evaporation of a boiler from and at

Energy received by steam=m

s ( h2h1 ) kJ
From this it determined the amount of water at 100 oC which could be evaporated into dry saturated
steam at 100oC if supplied with this same amount of energy. This is then called the equivalent
evaporation of the boiler, from and at 100oC.
At 100oC it will be enthalpy of evaporation (= 2256.9 kJ/kg) which is supplied,
Thus, the equivalent evaporation of boiler, from and a 100 oC is

s ( h2h1 )
in the given time or per kilogram of fuel

The Steam Drum

Steam drum is where feedwater from economizer is fed, saturated steam is separated from the boiling
water and the remaining water is circulated above. The drum is also used for chemical water treatment
and blow down to reduce solids in the water. Steam drums are provided in all modern generators
except the once-through types.
The drum should stand the flow rate changes and prevent the carryover of water towards the supperheater which may lead to distortion or burnout.
Steam is separated in the drum by two methods:
a. Gravity separation
b. Mechanical separation


d. Gravity Separation

Factors that affect the gravity separation are:

Steam velocity
Positions of the down comer and riser nozzle with respect to the steam outlet
Operating pressure
Gravity separation is economical only for low-steam-capacity, low pressure service.

h. Mechanical Separation

It has three steps:

Primary separation: removes most of the water from the steam and prevents the carry under of
steam with the recirculating water to down-comer and risers. Baffle plates and the bent or
corrugated plates are used for primary separation.
Secondary separation, also called steam scrubbing or drying. It removes mist or fine droplets
and solids from steam. Screens, bent or corrugated plates and centrifugal separators are
considered types of the secondary separation.
Centrifugal separation is used at high pressures and it is called cyclone or turbo separators.

k. Typical utility steam drums range in length to more than 100 ft in diameter to more than 15 ft
long and flow rate in terms of hundreds tons per hour.