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Energy Conservation Opportunity

Durmus Kaya
Energy Systems and Environmental Research
in Boiler Systems
In this study, energy efficiency study has been performed for a natural gas fuelled
boiler, operating at 42,000 kPa pressure and 713.15 K temperature, with a nominal
P.O. Box 21,
capacity of 33.33 kg/s steam. Within this frame, temperature, pressure, velocity, and gas
41470 Gebze-Kocaeli, Turkey
analysis measurements have been made, and energy, mass balances, and exergy analysis
have been formed. Then, the efficiency of boiler, potential energy saving options and
savings quantities, investment costs, and payback period for normal operating conditions
Muharrem Eyidogan have been calculated from the energy and mass balances. Implementation cost is required
Department of Mechanical Education,
only for reducing air leakages in the rotary type air heater and surface thermal losses.
Kocaeli University,
The investment cost for reducing air leakage in the rotary type air heater to the accept-
41380 Kocaeli, Turkey
able limits (10%) is 600,000 USD. Under these circumstances, the payback period of this
investment cost is about fifteen months. DOI: 10.1115/1.3185440

Keywords: steam boiler, energy efficiency, energy savings, exergy analysis

1 Introduction brand flowmeter. Flue gas and boiler exit gas measurements were
done by TESTO 360 and TESTO 350 brand gas analysis
Boilers are generally defined as closed containers, operated un-
instruments, based on the electrochemical detection method.
der high pressures to convert the chemical energy of the fuel to
thermal energy 1. For the selection of the boiler: operation pur-
pose, manufactured steam amount, pressure, and temperature, the 3 Evaluation of the Measurements and Calculations
inlet temperature of feed water, water hardness, fuel type, lower
heating value of fuel, fuel analysis, and fuel cost must be evalu- For normal operating conditions, boiler efficiency was calcu-
ated 2. lated by using natural gas and steam flow rates and inlet enthalp-
The main factors affecting the boiler efficiency are: incomplete ies of vapor and water. The results are given in Table 1. Combus-
combustion, excess air, thermal loss due to water vapor in flue tion gas analysis was done by fuel amount, boiler combustion gas
gas, flue gas temperature, fuel type, burners, boiler load, thermal oxygen percentage, and elemental analysis of the fuel. Total sto-
loss from boiler surface, and dirtiness of the heater surface. chiometric combustion gas, theoretical combustion air, excess air,
This study has been done upon request of the industrial organi- theoretical total combustion air, boiler outlet gas flow rates, and
zation. The main aim of this study is to investigate the reasons of excess air ratio were calculated. By using measured and calculated
efficiency drop for the boiler, which cannot reach the full load, to values, energy equations were formed for the boiler, the rotary
give recommendations for compensation, to determine the type air heater, and the whole system.
amounts of thermal losses, the investment cost, and payback pe-
riod. 3.1 Potential Energy Saving Options
2 Measurement Methods and Devices 3.1.1 Reduction of Excess Air Leakage Losses. One of the
most important potential energy saving options in the boiler sys-
The boiler system consists of boiler, rotary type air RTA tem is the air leakage losses in the rotary type air heaters. In
heater, burners, induced-draft fan ID and forced-draft fan FD practical life, it is impossible to completely avoid air leakage in
fans, and chimney. A schematic view of the boiler system and its rotary type air heaters 3. In this type of heaters, air leakage
measurement system are given in Fig. 1. To constitute energy and increases as time passes because of the corrosion due to the com-
mass balances between the inlet and the outlet of the boiler, and bustion gases. Then, the total boiler efficiency decreases as a re-
between the inlet and outlet of the rotary type air heater, flow sult of increased air leakages. Expected air leakage value in the
rates, pressure, and temperature measurements were done, and design of this boiler is 7% of the burning air. From our energy
present countermeasures on the system were read. audit experience, the maximum acceptable level for air leakage is
The flow rate of natural gas was read from the counter, and then 10% of the flow rate of the air burning in the blower.
the chemical composition of combustion products and flowrates The amount of air leakage can be determined easily by the
were calculated. The accuracy of these calculations was checked
measurements of O2 at the outlet of the boiler and the outlet of the
with the combustion gas flow and gas analysis measurement at the
flue gas. In the measurements, combustion gas oxygen value is
exit of the boiler and chimney. Approximately the same value was
found to be 5.40%, however, in the flue gas measurements, this
obtained less than 1%.
value was found as 10.0%.
For determination of the steam flow rate used in the system,
PANMETRICS brand transit time ultrasonic flowmeter was 3.1.2 Reduction of Excess Air /Fuel Ratio. In the measure-
used measurement accuracy 0.5%. The flowrate measured by ments of the boiler, it was found out that the boiler operates over
this instrument was checked with the steam flowmeter in the the optimum excess air/fuel ratio 10% for natural gas. Reducing
boiler, and the proximity between these values was seen. Air flow- excess air to that needed for complete combustion will improve
rate at the inlet of the boiler was measured by a TESTO 445 boiler efficiency. Excess air levels will be different for different
firing rates and for different boilers. For natural gas boilers, high-
firing rates may require less than 2% excess oxygen 10% excess
Contributed by the Advanced Energy System Division of ASME for publication
in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received November
air, while low-firing rates may require more than 6% excess oxy-
17, 2005; final manuscript received May 26, 2009; published online August 4, 2009. gen to ensure complete combustion. It is believed that the burner
Review conducted by Enrico Sciubba. can be adjusted to operate at 2% oxygen 10% excess air 4.

Journal of Energy Resources Technology Copyright 2009 by ASME SEPTEMBER 2009, Vol. 131 / 032401-1

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Fig. 1 Schematic view of the boiler system and its measurement system

3.1.3 Operating the Boiler at Full Load. Average steam pro- temperature. The saving potential was calculated by using flue gas
duction is found to be 24.44 kg/s in the measurements at normal flow rate, specific gas heat, flue gas temperature, and circumstance
operating conditions. The rated load for this boiler is 33.33 kg/s. temperature.
When the boiler is operated at the design load, approximately 2%
efficiency increase is expected. 3.1.5 Decreasing Boiler Surface Losses. The boiler surface
was scanned by a thermal camera to determine surface losses and
3.1.4 Reduction of Flue Gas Temperature. Under operation weak isolated areas. When these weak isolated areas are rein-
conditions, flue gas temperature was measured as 388.15 K. Flue forced, energy saving at a ratio is possible. Since the ratio of this
gas temperature can be decreased to 373.15 K by applying the saving potential is low, no extra calculation is given here.
suggestions given in the introduction section. By this way, an
important amount of energy can be saved by decreasing flue gas 3.2 Total Energy Saving Potential. By considering all the
energy saving potentials, energy is given in terms of fuel equiva-
lence to natural gas, and the financial values of this are shown in
Table 2.
Table 1 Boiler efficiency calculation at normal operating 3.3 Investment Costs and Payback Periods. In the above
energy saving options, only avoiding excess leakage air is re-
Parameter Value quired for the investment cost. Among the other savings areas,
decreasing the excess air and operating boiler at full load does
Steam flow rate m s, kg/s 24.44 not require any investment. These two options require boiler care
Steam inlet enthalpy is, kJ/kg 3,304.54 and operation rules such as regular cleaning of the boiler tubes,
Water inlet enthalpy iw, kJ/kg 477.66 and operating the boiler at optimum air-fuel ratio. Therefore, the
Enthalpy difference is iw, kJ/kg 2,826.88 payback period was calculated for only the first option: excess air
Heat given to water QW = m sis iw, kW 69,002.25 leakage. For this option, one of the two methods is suggested.
Natural gas flow rate m, Nm3 / s 2.24
The lower heating value of natural gas kJ/ Nm3 35,204.20 3.4 Modernization of the Present Rotating Air Heaters.
Total heat of fuel QF = m Hu, kW 78,691.23 Air leakage of 14.56 N m3 / s at the rotary type air heaters can be
Efficiency QW QF, %) 87.69 reduced to 3.12 N m3 / s; the acceptable limit of 10% of combus-

Table 2 Total energy saving potential

Energy Natural gas Annual financial

Type of energy saving kW liq m3 / h value USD

Avoiding excess leakage air losses 1,333.74 139 221,685

Reduction of excess air 741.99 77 123,330
Operating the boiler at full load 1,576.08 164 261,967
Reduction of flue gas temperature 620.04 65 103,138
Total 4,271.86 445 710,120

Note: Cost of 1 liq m3 natural gas is taken as 0.19 USD, and its calorific value is taken as 34541 kJ.

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Table 3 Expected efficiency value after potential energy Potential and kinetic energy of fuel, combustion air, and
savings exhaust gas are ignored.
Parameter Value The exergy of fuel and exhaust gas are equal according to the
collection of chemical exergy and thermomechanical exergy
Energy saving Qt, kW 3,646.58
Energy that will be given to water after energy saving e = eth + ech 1
QH + Qt, kW 72,648.82
Fuel heat QF, kW 78,691.23 The chemical exergy of gas fuel can be determined from Ref. 6

Efficiency QH + Qt / QF 92.3 %
H 1
eFch = 1,0334 + 0,0183 0,0694 LHV 2
tion air. To reach this value, the present system must be modern- where H and C are the atomic ratio of hydrogen and carbon,
ized. The manufacturer has offered 600,000 USD for moderniza- respectively.
tion of the present rotating air heaters. Energy loss can be The thermomechanical exergy of the exhaust gas is evaluated
from the following equation:

prevented by decreasing the excess air leakage and the ID fan
load will be reduced to 25%. Therefore, by increasing the boiler
production capacity, boilers can be operated at nominal loads. The
effect of decreasing air leakage on the steam production increase
eth =

ai hiT hiT0 T0 s0T s0T0 R ln
will be given later. 3
Consequently, the total saving potential is the sum of the sav-
ings, due to the prevention of excess air leakage and the operation where ai is the molar amount of component i, s0 is the absolute
of the boiler at full load for this option. entropy at standard pressure, and R is the universal gas constant
This is 221,685 USD+ 261,967 USD= 483,625 USD. 7.
The payback period is 600,000/ 483,625= 1.24 years 15 The chemical exergy of exhaust gas is evaluated from the fol-
months. lowing equation:

3.5 Expected Boiler System Efficiency Level After Poten-

tial Energy Saving. As a result of the potential energy saving
ech = RT0
ai ln
y ie
options mentioned above, the expected efficiency values are given
in Table 3. As it can be seen from Table 2, when saving potentials where y ei is the molar ratio of ith component in the reference
are evaluated, the boiler efficiency will increase from 87.69% to environment, and y i is the molar ratio of the ith component in the
92.3%. exhaust gas. Temperature and pressure in the reference environ-
ment are T0 298.5 K and P0 1 atm, respectively 7.
3.6 The Effect of Excess Air Leakage Prevention to In- The thermomechanical exergy of fuel, combustion air, and
crease of Steam Production. Possible increase in steam produc- chemical exergy of combustion air are ignored since these values
tion was calculated via decreasing the excess air leakage, and the are close to the reference environment. Table 5 shows the exergy
results are given in Table 4. As it can be seen above, when the analysis of the whole system.
excess air leakage is prevented, the ID fan load decreases, and the
steam production capacity will increase by 8.36 kg/s. When all air
leakage is prevented, the steam production capacity increase will
be higher. 5 Conclusion and Recommendations
Energy efficiency measurements have been done in a boiler of
4 Exergy Analysis an industrial facility. By using measurement and existing accurate
Exergy is defined as the maximum amount of work, which can device reading values, mass, energy balances, and exergy analysis
be produced by a stream of matter, heat, or work as it comes to have been formed, and potential energy saving have been as-
equilibrium with a reference environment 5. sessed. The present boiler efficiency and the possible efficiency
The assumptions for simplifying calculations are as follows: increase due to saving potentials, required investment cost, and
pay back periods have been calculated.
Combustion air and exhaust gas were accepted ideal gases. The findings for the boiler are summarized as follows:
Combustion air consists of 75.67% N2, 20.35% O2, 0.03%
CO2, and 3.03% H2O; molar basis. The most important part of the boiler efficiency loss is due

Table 4 Possible increase in steam production via decreasing the excess air leakage

Prevented Prevented
excess leakage excess leakage Capacity Increase
air ratio air flow rate increase ratio
% N m3 / s kg/s %

0 0 0.0 0.0
10 1.14 0.833 3.4
20 2.29 1.666 6.8
30 3.43 2.5 10.3
40 4.58 3.333 13.7
50 5.72 4.166 17.1
60 6.86 5.028 20.5
70 8.01 5.861 23.9
80 9.16 6.694 27.3
90 10.3 7.53 30.8
100 11.44 8.36 34.2

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Table 5 Exergy analysis of whole systems

Exergy losses Exergetic

Fuel chemical Exergy losses Exergy losses due in air heater efficiency
exergy kW in boiler kW to exhaust gas kW kW %

81,803.9 634.7 32,457.08 18,854.77 36.5

to the excess air leakage at the rotary type air heater. Two spectively. Annually, the financial value of this energy equivalent
different investments were recommended to prevent this ef- to natural gas is 711,729 USD, and as a result of energy saving,
ficiency loss. the boiler efficiency will be 92.3%.
The modernization of the present rotating air heaters is
600,000 USD. The payback period is 15 months. Acknowledgment
Excessive air leakages at the rotary type air heater increase The authors are grateful to Dr. Bulent Imamoglu for editing the
the load of the ID fans and prevent the boiler to reach the paper.
rated load. When the excess air leakage is reduced to accept-
able limits 10%, the boiler steam production capacity will
increase 34.2% to 32.8 kg/s. When all air leakage is pre- References
vented, the steam production capacity increase will be more. 1 EIEI/UETM, 1997, Energy Management in Industry, National Energy Conser-
During boiler combustion gas measurements, CO value is vation Center, Ankara, Turkey in Turkish.
2 Onat, K., Genceli, O., and Arsoy, A., 1988, Heat Calculation in Steam Boil-
read near zero. Therefore, no incomplete combustion phe- ers, Denklem Press, Istanbul in Turkish.
nomenon is encountered. However, it is determined that this 3 Stultz, S. C., and Kitto, J. B., 1992, Steam: Its Generation and Use, 40th ed.,
boiler is operated at higher combustion air than the optimum Babcock & Wilcox Company, Barberton, OH.
case. 4 FEMP Fact Sheet, Optimize Air-to-Fuel Ratio for Fired Systems, Federal En-
ergy Management Program, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S.
There is no need to make any investment for the boiler Department of Energy.
operating at optimum excess air coefficient, and also, at full 5 Rosen, M. A., and Dincer, I., 1999, Exergy Analysis of Waste Emissions,
load conditions. Int. J. Energy Res., 2313, pp. 11531163.
6 Ghamarian, A., 1981, The Exergy Method of Power Plant Systems Analysis
and Its Application to a Pressurized Bed Coal-Fired Combined-Cycle Power
According to the calculation results, for the normal operating Plant, George Washington University, N.W., Washington, DC.
conditions, the boiler efficiency, exergetic efficiency, and total po- 7 Sayin, C., Hosoz, M., Canakci, M., and Kilicaslan, I., 2007, Energy and
tential energy saving are 87.69%, 36.25%, and 3,646.58 kJ/s, re- Exergy Analyses of a Gasoline Engine, Int. J. Energy Res., 31, pp. 259273.

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