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Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management for Engineers and Technicians

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2 Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process

This chapter deals exclusively with the fundamental aspects related to fuel combustion and steam generation in boilers. The characteristics of various boiler fuels are explained in detail along with their influence on boiler design. The discussion also includes a detailed account of the fundamental principles governing combustion such as air supply, combustion temperature, air-fuel mixing & combustion rate. Boiler firing forms a vital part of overall boiler operation & therefore necessitates a detailed study of the different firing methods & related appliances. Boiler efficiency is a critical parameter indicating the ability of a boiler to transfer heat. In order to enable a better understanding of the concepts related to efficiency, the discussion focuses on the conditions determining efficiency & also the methods employed to measure it.

Learning objectives
• • • • • Types of emissions. Methods to control boiler emissions. Impact of various pollutants. Effectiveness of cleaning equipment. Standard emission levels.

The combustion process is guided by certain fundamental principles which are discussed below.1 Overview of the Boiler Heating and Steam Generation Process Boiler heating takes place through the process of combustion where heat is produced by the rapid chemical combination of oxygen with the combustible elements of a fuel. Air supply control It is always important to ensure that the right proportion of air and fuel be maintained. The fundamental principles governing the combustion process along with the three T’s of combustion namely time. especially if combustion controls are not set properly. operating conditions and the equipment used for combustion. This is accomplished by mixing air and fuel at elevated temperatures. When operating at excess capacities. which are in turn based on past operational experience and actual performance. in order to obtain the highest possible efficiency. Mixing of Air and fuel Proper mixing of the air-fuel mixture is again essential for the combustion process to initiate and it is important that each combustible particle comes into intimate contact with the oxygen present in the air. This is often determined on the basis of manufacturer’s recommendations. Time required The combustion rate is determined by a host of factors such as air supply. temperatures tend to be lower and this can result in incomplete combustion and excessive Smoke formation. as a consequence of which considerable amount of unburned fuel is discharged from the furnace and resulting in appreciable losses. Combustion temperature It is important in the combustion process to maintain the fuel/air mixture at a sufficiently high temperature. When operated at low capacities. Combustion equipments are therefore designed keeping this principle in mind. so that the best possible mixing is achieved. again resulting in a loss in efficiency. temperature and turbulence are illustrated in the block diagram below. there may be insufficient time left to complete the combustion process. temperature and mixing and normally an appreciable amount of time is needed to complete the process. Air quantity depends on the fuel type. Poor mixing and air distribution will result in an excess of air in some portions of the combustion chamber and a deficiency in others.28 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > 2. . deficiency in the same allows some of the unburned or partially burned fuel to pass through the furnace. While excess air may result in large scale release of hot gases from the stack with a correspondingly high heat loss and reduced efficiency. in order to promote combustion.

2 Kettle Type Boiler .<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 29 Figure 2.1 Combustion Process 2. from water to steam.7 psia). Figure 2.2 Steam Generation Fundamentals Boiling This is the process by which water is boiled to make steam. the heat energy from the fuel effects a change in phase from liquid to gaseous. i. A continuous process for this is provided by a steam generating system known as boiler. After attaining boiling temperature (100°C or 212°F at14.e. The figure below illustrates a kettle type boiler in which a fixed quantity of water is heated.

for a specific pressure. With continuous application of heat. water is regulated into the vessel at the same flow rate as the steam being generated and leaving the vessel. This is usually accomplished either by the process of Natural or thermal circulation Or Forced or pumped circulation Let us discuss these two types in detail. unless there is additional water added. If a provision is made to remove the steam continuously.3 Natural Circulation . the temperature would remain the same and the water content tends to evaporate.30 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > In this case. there is an increase in water temperature and the boiling or saturation temperature is reached with formation of bubbles. For continuous generation of steam. water circulation through the tubes is a must. the temperature tends to remain constant. Circulation Most boilers have water and steam flowing through tubes where they absorb heat resulting from the combustion process. In a continuous process. with the steam flowing from the water surface. Natural circulation Figure 2.

there is a larger total pressure difference between the heated and unheated legs.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 31 Referring the above figure. Forced circulation Figure 2. With heat addition. The density of the steam-water mixture in BC is less when compared with the water segment AB. Heat input – An increase in heat input will result in an increase in the amount of steam in the heated segment and a decrease in the average density of the steam-water mixture. there is no presence of steam in the unheated tube segment AB. Operating pressure – Higher pressures give rise to higher density steam and steam-water mixtures. b. resulting in the water flowing down in AB on account of gravity and the consequent flowing up of the steam-water mixture in BC. The circulation rate is dependent on the difference in average density between the unheated water and the steam-water mixture. This tends to reduce the flow rate by reducing the total weight difference between the unheated and heated segments. in the case of natural circulation. into the steam drum. a steam-water mixture is generated in segment BC.4 Forced Circulation . Boiler height – With taller designs. The total circulation rate is a function of a. d. Free-flow area – Larger free-flow or cross-sectional areas for water or steamwater mixtures will result in increased circulation rates. resulting in a higher total flow rate. c. resulting in higher total flow rates.

Separation of steam and water This takes place in the steam drum. since the gas is supplied directly to the boiler via the pipeline. Additionally. the overall picture is that of a small and economical design. Considering all these factors. in this type. The pumps provide sufficient head for circulation and for the required velocities and the tubes used in forced circulation boilers are normally smaller in diameter. As there is no formation of ash. fuel handling and combustion. material corrosion. The allowance made for corrosion is also relatively small and emission control is related chiefly to nitrogen oxide (NOx) that is formed during combustion. heat recovery. a pump is added to the flow loop and the pressure difference generated by this pump controls the flow rate. it requires a relatively smaller furnace for combustion. This is easily accomplished in small. The smaller furnace requirement and closer spacing of the heat-transfer spacing results in a compact boiler design. special cleaning equipment in the form of sootblowers in order to reduce the impact of fouling and erosion. These boilers also require extensive fuel handling. Whatever the type and nature of fuel whether fossil fuels such as coal. This type of circulation is also useful with certain designs in the sub-critical pressure range. Other additional equipments that are needed include air-heaters to enhance combustion. 2. pollution control etc. let us compare a boiler which is pulverized-coalfired and a boiler which is natural-gas-fired. a comparatively larger furnace for combustion and wider spacing of the heat transfer surfaces. with there being little difference in density between water and steam. high-capacity. A natural gas-fired boiler on the other hand requires only minimal storage and handling facilities.3 Influence of the Type of Fuel on Boiler Design The fuel type used determines the overall design of the boiler to a great extent.32 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > As seen in the figure. On the other hand. low-pressure boilers by the use of a large drum that is roughly half full of water and having natural gravity steam-water separation. environmental control equipment such as electrostatic precipitators and SO2 scrubbers and ash handling and disposal systems. In case of the former using a solid fuel such as coal. the design involves several complexities. there is complete absence of fouling in the boiler and therefore this design permits close spacing of the heat-transfer surfaces. Solid fuels tend to have a high ash percentage which is not combustible and this is a factor in plant design. oil or natural gas or by-product fuels. To enable a better understanding. . environmental considerations. This is normally employed when the boilers are designed to operate near or above the critical pressure of 3206 psia. plant design requires different provisions to be incorporated with regard to fuel preparation. highpressure units need mechanical separators for economically providing moisture-free steam from the steam drum. storage and preparation.

hand firing is seldom used these days. use of stokers. giving high heat release rates and employed for handling a variety of solid fuels such as coal. Overfeed stokers where the fuel is supplied from above the grate and air supply is done from below. the grates serve the twin purposes of supporting the fuel bed as well as admitting primary air. Although the original designs comprised stationary beds. Among these. Fuel feed system. An over-fire air system for completing the combustion process and to reduce emissions such as NOx. with over-fire air also being introduced for enhancing the process of combustion. Overfeed stokers are further classified into two types a. A moving or stationary grate assembly for supporting the burning fuel and admitting the majority of combustion air. wood. Mass fed stokers where the fuel which is continuously fed to one end of the grate travels horizontally or inclined across the grate as it burns.4. b.1 Hand firing They are used on small capacity boilers in view of their low heat release rates.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 33 2. shaking or moving grates were introduced later. Stokers essentially consist of: a. They are used on large boilers. Generally. to enable a better understanding of the combustion fundamentals. bark. An ash-discharge system. two types of stokers systems are available 1. Here. The commonly applied methods for boiler firing include hand shoveling.4 Firing Appliances Boiler firing consists of feeding the coal for combustion. d. bagasse. The agitation of the fuel bed by the grates helps keep it even and prevents holes from forming in the fuel bed. Presently. pulverizers and fluidized bed combustors. 2. with the ash . Stokers are also designed to remove ash residues that remain after combustion. Underfeed stokers where both the fuel and air supply are from under the grate. but is still included in our discussion. 2. rice hulls and municipal waste. 2. into the boiler furnace. the method of hand firing has almost become obsolete and replaced by mechanical devices such as stokers and pulverizers.4.2 Stokers Stokers are located in the furnace and are designed to feed solid fuel onto a grate where the fuel burns as primary air is introduced. c.

34 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > being removed from the opposite end. Figure 2.5 Underfeed Stoker Boilers may be provided either with single or twin-retort stokers as in the case of small boilers or equipped with multiple-retort stokers as with larger boilers. the fuel and air supply in underfeed stokers are made from under the grate. The various stoker types are dealt with in detail.4. . Spreader stokers are the most common among the ones in use presently and have the capacity to handle a wide variety of solid fuels. b. The fuel fines burn in suspension as they fall against the upward moving air flow. 2. The heavier fuel gets burned on the grate and the ash is removed from the discharge end. the combustion air is introduced from below the grate and moves up through the burning fuel bed. Spreader stokers where the fuel is spread uniformly over the grate as it is thrown into the furnace. for obtaining higher combustion rates. Here. The combustion air in this case. The figure below illustrates an underfeed stoker system used on a fire-tube boiler. in the discussion to follow.3 Underfeed stokers As the name suggests and as described earlier. enters from below.

the coal in the furnace starts to rise. The burning coal tends to be pushed to the ash discharge end. causing more coal to be exposed to the air from the tuyeres or openings in the grate. either due to the pressure exerted by the incoming fuel or grate motion. .6 Single-retort Underfeed Stoker The ram pushes the raw coal into the furnace along a feed trough. The furnace heat along with the incoming air heats up the raw coal which ignites and burns as it moves up toward the fuel bed outline. consider the single-retort stoker shown in the figure below. Figure 2. Multiple-retort stokers operate on the same principle as single or twin-retort stokers. As the fresh coal is pushed in. The figure below illustrates a multiple-retort stoker with steam-operated ash dumping plates and coal and air distribution mechanisms.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 35 To enable a simple understanding of how the underfeed stoker works.

The rate of fuel movement and consequently the fuel bed shape can be regulated by an adjustment of the stroke length of the secondary rams. with some limitations with regard to the type of coal used. especially highly volatile fuels. Underfeed stoker types are defined by the mechanism used for moving the coal such as single and multiple retorts.7 Multiple-retort Underfeed Stoker As seen from the figure.36 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Figure 2. Coal supply to each retort is made by means of a ram. Secondary rams are also provided and this together with the effect of gravity that the stoker inclination provides causes the fuel to move toward the ash discharge end. Underfeed stokers are well suited for continuous operation at their rated capacity. an adequate number of retort and tuyere sections are arranged side by side for making the required stoker width. . screw feed and ram feed. These stokers incline from the rams towards the end where ashdischarge takes place.

4. Moving-grate stokers –chain or traveling grate b.4 Overfeed stokers Mass-fed Overfeed Stoker In this type. A traveling-grate stoker is shown. They are equal in length to the furnace width. The air openings in the grates depend on the fuel burned.8 Traveling-grate Stoker . The front sprocket is connected to a variable-speed mechanism. Combustion air is introduced from below the grate and moves up through the burning fuel bed. This provides better control of fine ash sifting through the grate. Water-cooled vibrating-grate stokers Moving-grate stoker Chain-grate stokers use an endless chain that supports the fuel bed and passes over the drive & return bend sprockets. the chain travels over two sprockets. In both the types. one at the front & one at the rear of the furnace. Traveling-grate stokers also use an endless chain. Mass-fed overfeed stokers are further categorized into two types: a. Figure 2. fuel which is continuously fed to one end of the grate travels horizontally or inclined across the grate as it burns and ash is removed from the opposite end.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 37 2. but carry small grate bars to support the fuel bed.

38 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > The coal here is fed from a hopper at the front.9 Vibrating-grate Stoker The grates consist of iron blocks attached to water-cooled tubes. The tubes are equally spaced between headers connected to the boiler. A vibration generator driven by a constant-speed motor actuates the grates. The feed rate is automatically controlled by variations in the vibrating cycle. A hand-adjusted gate regulates the fuel depth on the grate. Air distribution through the bed is regulated by individual supply ducts with dampers. by gravity. The depth of the feed is regulated by an adjustment of the hopper gate. Flexible plates are used to divide the space beneath the stoker into compartments. The connecting tubes between the headers & the boiler circulation system have long bends to permit vibration of the grates. The vibration along with the inclination of the grate makes the bed move toward the ash pit. Vibrating-grate stoker The operation here is similar to the moving-grate stoker. . but the fuel-fed & bed movement is achieved by vibration. The burning progresses with the travel of the grate through the furnace and the ash is carried over the rear end and deposited in the ash pit. in order to impart the required vibrations. This is essentially made of two unbalanced weights rotating in opposite directions. Figure 2.

fine and ground coal is flown through ducts or pipes into the furnace. a mechanism for throwing the fuel into the furnace and grates with suitable openings to admit air. The volatile coal matter is distilled off in the form of gas. Spreader stokers consist of a variable feeding device. supporting combustion. Pulverizing exposes the fuel elements in coal to rapid oxidation even as the ignition temperature is reached.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 39 Spreader stoker In this type. Figure 2. to produce the required depth of ash at the discharge end. Upon entry into the furnace. The volatile matter burns first and then heats up the remaining carbon to incandescence. The ash falls into the pit when the grates pass over the sprocket.5 Pulverized firing In pulverized firing. the fine particles are exposed to radiant heat with increase in temperature. The fuel fines burn in suspension as they fall against the upward moving air flow. by means of air and coal in suspension. . The heavier fuel gets burned on the grate and ash is removed from the discharge end. A traveling-grate spreader stoker is shown in the figure.10 Traveling-grate Spreader Stoker Coal falls on the grate & combustion is completed as it slowly moves through the furnace. The secondary air introduced around the burner supplies oxygen for completing the combustion process. Spreader stokers are the most common among the stokers in use presently and have the capacity to handle a wide variety of solid fuels. The rate of grate movement is varied. Sufficient primary air mixes intimately with the coal particle stream.4. 2. This results in a more complete burning process. the fuel is spread uniformly over the grate as it is thrown into the furnace and combustion air enters from below.

Ball and Race Mill This design uses steel balls & races as grinding elements. Springs are provided to exert pressure on the upper race and coal is pulverized between the balls & the lower race. Suitable controls. Coal is passed between them again & again. Primary air fan. .40 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Features of Pulverized Firing • • • • • • Coal feeder regulating coal flow from bunker to pulverizer. Burners to mix coal and air. The lower race is power driven while the upper is stationary. until the desired pulverization is obtained. An air stream is circulated through the grinding compartment of the mill. Heat source for pre-heating primary air. A rotating classifier permits fine particles to pass in the air stream and rejects the oversized particles which are returned for re-grinding. Piping to direct the coal & primary air from the pulverizer to the burners. Pulverizers are generally classified as Contact mills Impact mills and Ball mills Contact Mills They contain stationary & power-driven elements arranged to have rolling action with respect to each other. The grinding elements may consist of balls rolling in a race or rollers running over a surface.

<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 41 Figure 2. . The drum is rotated as the coal is fed. The coal mixes with the balls & gets crushed.11 Ball and Race Mill Ball Mill It consists of a large drum partly filled with steel balls of different sizes to about 30% volume.

Impact Mills In this design. The fuels that are fired range from wet biomass sludges to high ash low CV coals. Turbulent mixing of fuel and air occurs in fluidized beds. This design provides faster response rates & short startup & shutdown times.12 Ball Mill Hot air entering the drum dries & carries the crushed coal through the classifiers.4. By the addition of limestone (CaCO3)) to the bed. 2. Pulverization occurs due to the impact of coal on coal as well as the stationary & moving parts. a significant reduction in sulphur-dioxide emission levels is achieved. This results in good mixing & heat transfer rates and lower combustion temperatures in the range of 815 – 875°C. The emissions are reduced considerably on account of the lower combustion temperature. The bed is comprised of inert materials such as sand and the particle size depends on the stable bed depth required as well as air flows. . the impact principle is employed and coal remains in suspension during the pulverizing process. to the burners and the oversized particles are returned to the drum for further grinding.42 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Figure 2.6 Fluidized Beds Fluidized beds are capable of burning low grade fuels in an economically friendly manner.

volatiles and very fine fuel particles are burned in the freeboard area. In BFB boilers.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 43 There are basically two types of fluidized bed designs that are available a. a mixture of particles is suspended in an upwardly flowing stream mixture of air and combustion gases. resulting in fluid like properties. Optimum combustion is produced by an intimate mixing of the fuel-air mixture. Figure 2. A basic BFB design and a bottom supported towerpak BFB boiler design are shown. While solid fuel particles burn within the bed. the combustion system is two-staged. Bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) b. The transition between the bed and the space above is known as freeboard area.13 (a) Bubbling Fluidized Boiler . in order to optimize combustion in the second stage of the combustion process. The freeboard area is also injected with secondary air. Circulating Fluid Bed (CFB) Bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) In this process.

CFB designs vary primarily with regard to the method of collecting and recycling of solids. The required heat-transfer surface comprises the furnace enclosure (waterwalls) and internal division walls located across the boiler width. Two different CFB designs are depicted. It is possible to eliminate the in-bed tube bundle on account of the large quantity of solids that are recycled internally and externally around the furnace.13 (b) Bubbling Fluidized Boiler (Courtesy Babcock and Wilcox)) Circulating Fluid Bed (CFB) Here. . tube bundles are not present in the dense bed.44 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Figure 2.

<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 45 Figure 2.14 (a) Circulating Fluid Bed Design .

is known as freezing or solidifying.5 Theory of Combustion Combustion is a chemical process that occurs in accordance with natural laws. while the change in phase from gas or vapor to liquid is called condensation. by applying which the theoretical air quantity required to burn a given fuel can be determined when the fuel analysis is known. Phase change in the reverse direction i.14 (b) Circulating Fluid Bed Design 2. it undergoes a change in phase from liquid to gas. A gas does not have a definite shape or volume as both conform to that of the container. A liquid on the other hand has a definite volume because it is not readily compressible. When separated from the .e. Melting caused by heat involves change in phase from solid to liquid. can be determined from the flue gas analysis. The air quantity used in a furnace and expressed as percentage of excess above the theoretical requirements (excess air). from liquid to solid. A solid matter has both volume and shape. but its shape conforms to that of the container in which it is held. When a liquid vaporizes or boils. Liquids upon heating will reach a certain temperature at which vapor forms above the surface and which is only slightly above the liquid state.46 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Figure 2. Three forms of matter are encountered in the combustion process.

the combustion process is incomplete and the flue gases will contain residues of unburned fuel. An accurate analysis of the ideal air/fuel ratio is made with the help of an Orsat apparatus. whose characteristics are determined by the atoms that make up its molecules. the mixture is rich in fuel and the fire is reduced. this vapor will form gas.78 ft3 (0. nitrogen absorbs the released heat. the volume also varies. On the other hand. Although it does not burn. with the atom being the smallest particle an element can be divided into.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 47 liquid and heated. All substances are made of one or more chemical elements. Combustion is a chemical process involving the reaction of carbon. the temperature of gas varies widely and because the gases are maintained near atmospheric pressure. the mixture as well as the burning becomes leaner. volume and temperature changes and the more nearly a vapor approaches a gas. resulting in a flame that is longer as well as smoky. in case too much oxygen or air is supplied during combustion. With pure oxygen. In the event that not enough air or oxygen is supplied during combustion.5. the combustion is more rapid and spontaneous. These atoms combine in various combinations to form molecules which in turn are the smallest particles of a substance or compound. In this case. There is no exact point at which a substance changes from vapor to gas or gas to vapor. While steam formed as a result of boiling water at atmospheric pressure can be considered as vapor since it is just above the liquid state. This helps determine the percentage . Some of the released heat is taken away by the excess air and carried up the stack.1 Stoichiometric air and excess air requirements Stoichiometric air is the air that is needed for complete combustion of one unit of fuel under ideal conditions. This is a very important consideration as fans. boiler passes and flue ducts have to be designed accordingly. During combustion. Thus nitrogen has an effect on the combustion process in that it influences the temperature and time needed for completing the burning of the fuel. a lot of chemical reactions occur during the combustion process.028 m3) of oxygen. oil or gas is a chemical reaction involving the fuel and oxygen present in the air. It is required to supply 4. Along with the physical changes. resulting in a shorter flame and cleaner fire. This also results in less heat production. in the discussion to follow. This also results in reduced smoke formation and soot deposits.135 m3) of air for combustion for every 1 ft3 (0. The remainder mostly consists of nitrogen which has no role in the combustion but does have an effect on the volume of air required. The process of combustion requires a proper proportioning of fuel and air with the fuel elements. The burning process is always carried out with excess air to ensure proper and complete burning of all fuel and more efficient heat release. 2. Excess air on the other hand is the extra air used in a furnace beyond the air required for Stoichiometric or complete combustion. air may be considered as gas as it is far removed from the liquid state under normal conditions. the more closely it follows the gas laws. hydrogen and sulphur with oxygen and we shall discuss this further in detail. The burning of coal. Gases tend to follow certain definitive laws of behavior when subjected to pressure. Air contains 23% oxygen by weight and 21% by volume.

0 16-22 Black liquor Natural gas Natural gas 1. gas or pulverized coal. the value is between 10 and 30%.0-1. The table below shows the values of recommended excess air for various fuels and furnace types.9-2.4-2. The usual percentage of excess air for coal is around 50%.9 5-7 7-12 5-10 .4 1.4 3.0 20-50 Pulverized coal 2.5-4.7-6. whereas for oil. forced draft underfed Partially water cooled furnace for dry ash removal Cyclone furnace suction / pressure All furnace Dutch oven & hoft type Multi fuel burners & flat flame Recovery furnaces Multi-fuel burners Register type burners Percentage of Carbon-dioxide measured 7.3 1.0-1.0-8.0-4.0 15-40 Crushed coal 1.48 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > of inadequate or excess air.2-5.5-7. natural draft Stoker fired.7 10-15 Bagasse Wood 4. Fuel Coal Furnace type Stoker fired.2 25-35 20-25 Furnace oil 3.3 Percentage of excess air (rated) 50-65 Coal 3.

2. 4. S + O2 = SO2 Sulphur (S) is the last flammable constituent in the fuel and it combines with oxygen in the air to form sulphur-dioxide (SO2). we have carbon combining with oxygen in the air to form carbon-monoxide (CO). 3. 2H2 + O2 = 2H2O In this reaction. 2C + O2 = 2CO In the equation shown above. hydrogen and sulphur. carbon (C) in complete combustion combines with the oxygen (O2) in the air to form carbon-dioxide (CO2). 1. These are carbon.2 Combustion chemistry and products of combustion Any combustion process involving a fossil fuel will have only three elements combining with the oxygen in the air and releasing heat. The other reactions involved in the combustion process include Carbon-monoxide burned to carbon-dioxide 2CO + O2 = 2CO2 Sulphur combining with oxygen to form sulphur-trioxide 2S + 3O2 = 2SO3 Methane (CH4) burned to carbon-dioxide and water CH4 + 2O2 = CO2 + 2H2O Acetylene combining with oxygen to form carbon-dioxide and water 2C2H2 + 5O2 = 4CO2 + 2H2O Ethylene combining with oxygen to form carbon-dioxide and water .5. C + O2 = CO2 In the above equation. The combustion process comprises of the following basic chemical reactions. This happens in the case of incomplete combustion where the carbon does not burn completely. the hydrogen (H2) in the fuel combines with oxygen (O2) in the air to form di-hydrogen oxide (H2O) or water.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 49 2.

the effect of the economizer and pre-heater surfaces is always excluded from calculations for a separate comparative efficiency. the practice in the United States is to use the as-fired heat value. Determining the boiler efficiency Efficiency may be expressed as a percentage figure or in terms of evaporation which is the steam rate per unit mass of fuel fired. Here. furnace and grate efficiency is the ratio of the heat absorbed by the water and steam in the boiler per unit mass of fuel fired.6 Boiler Efficiency Boiler efficiency is defined as the measure of its ability to transfer the heat given to it by the furnace. by the percentage of heat absorbed by the heat recovery equipment. Sometimes. While the European practice is to generally use the lower heating value. as the latent heat of the moisture formed by the burning of hydrogen in the fuel is not available to generate steam in the boiler. Efficiency as applied in boiler performance guarantees is normally construed for different fuels as follows: Solid fuels – Efficiency of the boiler alone is the ratio of the heat absorbed by the water and steam in the boiler per unit mass of combustible burned on the grate. super-heater. the furnace performance is always taken into account and also sometimes that of the pre-heater. furnace and burner efficiency is the ratio of the heat absorbed by the water and steam in the boiler per unit mass or volume of fuel.50 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > C2H4 + 3O2 = 2CO2 + 2H2O Ethane burned to carbon-dioxide and water 2C2H6 + 7O2 = 4CO2 + 6H2O 2. re-heater and economizer. The combined boiler. Boiler efficiency is considered to be a combination of the efficiencies of its elements. The overall efficiency is therefore higher than the comparative efficiency. The efficiencies of solid fuel boilers are the same whether it is on a dry fuel or a fuelas-fired basis. The evaporation may again be actual or equivalent. to the calorific value of unit mass of fuel as fired. to the water and steam. to the calorific value of unit mass or volume of fuel. . When determining the steaming rate per unit of the heating surface. Liquid and Gaseous fuels – The combined boiler. to the calorific value of unit mass of combustible as fired. the lower heating value of the fuel is used.

. Direct method of determining efficiency This involves the measurement of energy input to the useful energy output. Heat-recovery equipments such as super-heaters. unburned fuel losses. Incomplete combustion and unburned carbon. Determining the efficiency of a boiler is in reality a performance test conducted on it. Type of fuel used and its characteristics. the useful energy output is a measure of the sum of the steam heat output plus blowdown heat. While the energy input is based on the gross calorific value of the fuel and further corrected for site reference temperature. The efficiency in this case is given by Efficiency = Steam weight (steam heat –feedwater heat) X 100 Fuel weight x fuel heating value Indirect method of determining efficiency Here. economizers. on-off. moisture losses. smaller boilers can either be tested in the laboratory or in the field under semi-controlled conditions. Percentage of excess air. Firing rate in relation to the furnace volume and heating surface. Burner adjustment. Fuel condition during firing and firing rate. pre-heaters and feed-water heaters. Draft as affected by barometric pressure. While these tests can be carried out during actual operation in the case of large installations. In-built heat losses such as those occurring through boiler walls and setting and the heat losses in the flue gases and ash that is not recoverable. convection and radiation losses and other unaccounted losses are determined. shape and volume of the furnace. Ability to exercise control over the variable conditions.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 51 Fixed and Variable conditions determining boiler efficiency The maximum attainable efficiency is dependent on the following fixed conditions: • • • • • • Boiler design and construction – This includes arrangement of the heating surface. water and steam circulation within the boiler and the flow of the combustion product through the boiler passes. Variable conditions affecting boiler efficiency • • • • • • • • Type of operation – whether continuous or intermittent. high-low or modulating. Cleanliness of the heat-absorbing surfaces. Temperature and humidity of the combustion air. the various heat losses such as dry gas losses.

losses X 100 Fuel heating value The measuring. Solid refuse which are part of the products of combustion cause severe operational and maintenance problems. Rated capacity range in MW Type of fuel 3-5 Coal a.7 Fireside Deposits and Corrosion The accumulation of slag and soot on the fireside influences the heat transfer rate greatly. Pulverized Oil Gas 81. Stoker b.9 86. The table below contains some of the typical maximum economically achievable efficiency values. testing and calculation procedures for boiler efficiency are specified in detail in the international boiler standards such as BS. the acids that are formed by the reaction of moisture with the sulfur products may lead to corrosion and tube failure.7 85.1 83.3 84.1 Efficiency Values for Different Fuels 2. fly-ash and other small hard particles cause fireside corrosion. The efficiency is given by Efficiency = Fuel heating value .0 5-30 30-70 Table 2.8 86. While soot and other fireside deposits may not cause direct damage. The deposition of foreign particles results in efficiency loss.1 80.0 83.52 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > Thus. Again.5 88.7 81.8 88. The refuse may be in the form of flue dust. Flue dust includes fly ash containing fine particles of ash and cinder which are particles of partially burned fuel carried from the furnace and from which volatile . They clog the gas passages by sticking to the heat transfer surfaces and depositing in areas of low gas velocity.3 84. slag or soot and smoke. DIN and ASME. efficiency determination by this method is a direct function of heat losses from the boiler and the combustion process.

leading to an increase in surface temperature and reduced heat transmission.3 69. a chemical reaction takes place.2 Lowering of Boiler Efficiency due to Combustion deposits 2.8 1. The table below shows how boiler efficiency is affected by combustion deposits.7. fouling. choke the gas passages and reduce the rate of heat transfer. semi-fused slag consisting of particles partly fused together. As the molten slag runs down the walls. Soot thickness in mm 0. The accumulations may cause sponge ash agglomeration. spongy structures.5 26. Slag which may be molten or fused refuse consists of vitreous slag. fuse and coalesce into a homogeneous mass is dependent on the ash-softening properties of the fuel as well as the temperature. Sooth and smoke consist of unburned products formed out of hydrocarbon vapors deprived of oxygen or adequate temperature for ignition.1 Slagging and clogging phenomena Molten fly ash has a tendency to stick to the furnace walls of a boiler as softened slag. there may be a solidification of fly ash that may in turn deposit on the walls and cause the surface temperature to equal the ash fusion temperature.<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 53 gases have been driven off and sticky ash which is ash at a temperature between initial deformation and softening. plastic slag which is viscous in nature and liquid slag. resulting in erosion or slag penetration. This characteristic of the ash to melt.6 3. The slag may harden and develop into large masses around cool openings in the hot zone. Bridging is again the .0 Table 2. segregation and bird-nesting. When burning fuel particles become embedded in this mass.8 Heat conductivity loss in % 9. Furnace temperature variations will cause the fly ash to either melt or buildup until equilibrium is reached. Clogging results when coal or oil deposits resulting from burning. bridging.2 4. If the furnace temperature is not high enough. Fouling is the agglomeration of refuse in gas passages or heat-absorbing surfaces leading to restrictions in gas and heat flow. Sponge ash agglomeration results in the transformation of dry ash particles into soft.2 45. there will be a further rise tin temperature.

Moisture collection on tubes forms a bond for deposition of ash with hygroscopic dust and ferric sulfate. corrosion is most noticeable at the cold end of the air heater or economizer. In coal fired boilers.2 Fireside Corrosion This tends to occur when the flue gases cool below the dew point temperature and water vapor condenses onto the surfaces. Soot deposits in particular have an affinity for moisture. to form a glassy insoluble deposit. the ones in the main stream are relatively slower in doing this. but corrosive sulphuric and sulphurous acid. Segregation involves selective deposition of refuse of varying compositions. causing moisture films to form at temperatures as much as 10 to 24 °C (50 . Some amount of sulphuric acid corrosion does tend to occur at elevated temperatures in the range of 325°C (620°F). The temperature limit must be raised in the case of fuels with higher sulfur content. the sulphur content as well as the dust burden of the flue gases. coal soots have traces of sulphur-dioxide and sulphur-trioxide. Normally. The corrosion and clogging caused by both. Apparently. Fuel oil slags may contain vanadium pentoxide that attacks and corrodes even high chromium steels. It possesses the soft and flaky properties of soot in the rear passes and is thus easily blow away. with the value varying with the proportion of acid and water vapor. While the gases in contact with tubes and plates tend to attain dew point that much faster. The process of corrosion is further accelerated in the presence of sulphur products which result from the combustion of fuels.54 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > agglomeration of slag and refuse. High sulphur fuels have higher dew points and the corrosion rate is found to increase with an increase in the dew point. while bird-nesting is the agglomeration of porous masses of loosely adhering particles of refuse and slag in the first tube bank of a watertube boiler. leading to a partial or complete blockage of the spaces or apertures between heat-absorbing tubes. But major corrosion related difficulties occur at temperatures below the dew point of the acid which under normal conditions varies between 138°C (280°F) and 160°C (320°F). while oil soots have potassium and sodium sulphates in addition. affect equipment design. Also. cold-end corrosion can . economizers and dust collectors in which the gas temperatures drop below or close to dew point. Deposits may accumulate in cold-end equipments such as air heaters. The dew point of sulphuric acid is about 93°C or 200°F higher than water. These in reaction with moisture form a dilute. The phenomenon of air heater fouling and corrosion normally tends to increase when the metal temperature falls below 150°C (300°F). 2. Ash assumes a less agglomerate nature beyond the hot zones when it begins to cool.7. sulphuric acid may react with fly ash at feedwater temperatures in excess of 260°C (500°F).75°F) above the dew point of the flue gases.

<Fuel Combustion and Steam Generation Process> 55 be reduced by injecting ammonia into the flue gases. thereby neutralizing the acids that form as a result of the presence of sulphur-bearing ash deposits .

56 < Practical Boiler Plant Operation and Management > .

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