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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Chapter 11
Oil and Gas Utilization

Before the industrial revolution, distilled petroleum for utility and industrial steam generation is deterio-
products were used primarily as a source of illumina- rating. High sulfur fuels containing heavy compo-
tion. Today, petroleum finds its primary importance as nents create challenges during combustion that range
an energy source and greatly influences the worlds from high particulate and sulfur oxide emissions to
economy. The following discusses the use of petroleum higher maintenance costs due to the corrosive constitu-
products and natural gas as energy sources for steam ents in the flue gas.
Transportation, storage and handling
The high heating value per unit of volume of oil,
Fuel oil its varied applications, and its liquid form have fos-
tered a worldwide system of distribution. The use of
Preparation supertankers for the transportation of crude oil has
Petroleum or crude oil is the source of various fuel significantly reduced transportation costs and has
oils used for steam generation (Fig. 1, facing page). allowed refineries to be located near centers of con-
Most petroleum is refined to some extent before use sumption rather than adjacent to the oil fields. Large
although small amounts are burned without process- supertankers, up to 250,000 t (227,000 tm), are capable
ing. Originally, refining petroleum was simply the of transporting nearly 2,000,000 bbl (318,000 m3) of
process of separating the lighter compounds, higher crude oil at a time to deepwater ports.
in hydrogen, from the heavier compounds by frac- Tanker and barge shipments on coastal and inland
tional distillation. This yielded impure forms of kero- waterways are by far the cheapest method of trans-
sene, gasoline, lubricating oils and fuel oils. Through porting the various grades of oil. With the depletion
the development of refining techniques, such as ther- of oil fields in the eastern United States (U.S.), crude
mal cracking and reforming, catalytic reforming, po- oil trunk lines were developed in the early 1900s to
lymerization, isomerization and hydrogenation, petro- transport oil from points west of the Mississippi River
leum is now regarded as a raw material source of to the east coast refineries. Today, more than 170,000
hydrogen and carbon elements that can be combined mi (274,000 km) of pipeline, including small feeder lines,
as required to meet a variety of needs. are used for the transportation of oil within the U.S.
In addition to hydrocarbons, crude oil contains com- Much smaller quantities of oil are shipped overland by
pounds of sulfur, oxygen and nitrogen and traces of rail and truck because of the higher cost of haulage.
vanadium, nickel, arsenic and chlorine. Processes are Fuel oil systems require either underground or sur-
used during petroleum refinement to remove impuri- face storage tanks. Oil is usually stored in cylindrical
ties, particularly compounds of sulfur. Purification pro- shaped steel tanks to eliminate evaporation loss. Loss
cesses for petroleum products include sulfuric acid treat- in storage of the relatively nonvolatile heavy fuel oils
ment, sweetening, mercaptan extraction, clay treatment, is negligible. Lighter products, such as gasoline, may
hydrogen treatment and the use of molecular sieves. volatilize sufficiently in warm weather to cause ap-
The refining of crude oil yields a number of prod- preciable loss. In this instance, storage tanks with
ucts having many different applications. Those used floating roofs are used to eliminate the air space above
as fuel include gasoline, distillate fuel, residual fuel the fuel where vapors can accumulate. The National
oil, jet fuels, still gas, liquefied gases, kerosene and Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has prepared a
petroleum coke. Products for other applications include standard set of codes for the storage and handling of
lubricants and waxes, asphalt, road oil, and petro- oils (NFPA 30 and 31). These codes serve as the basis
chemical feedstock. for many local ordinances and are required for the safe
Fuel oils for steam generation consist primarily of transportation and handling of fuel products.
residues from the distillation of crude oil. As refinery Extensive piping and valving and suitable pump-
methods improve, the quality of residual oil available ing and heating equipment are necessary for the

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transportation and handling of fuel oil. Storage tanks, Carbon residue Residue that remains after a liquid
piping and heaters for heavy oils must be cleaned pe- fuel is heated in the absence of air is termed carbon resi-
riodically because of fouling or sludge accumulation. due. The tests commonly used to determine carbon resi-
due are the Conradson Carbon Test and the Ramsbottom
Fuel properties Carbon Test. Carbon residue gives an indication of the
Safe and efficient transportation, handling and com- coking tendency of a particular fuel (i.e. the tendency of
bustion of fuel oil requires a knowledge of fuel charac- oil, when heated, to form solid compounds).
teristics. Principal physical properties of fuel oils, impor- Asphaltene content Asphaltenes are long chain,
tant to boiler applications, are summarized below (see high molecular weight hydrocarbon compounds. The
Chapter 9 for typical fuel oil physical property values): asphaltene content of a petroleum product is the per-
Viscosity The viscosity of an oil is the measure of centage by weight of wax free material insoluble in
its resistance to internal movement, or flow. Viscosity n-heptane but soluble in hot benzene. Their structure
is important because of its effect on the rate at which requires high temperatures and high atomization
oil flows through pipelines and on the degree of at- energy for the fuel to burn completely. Higher
omization obtained by oil firing equipment. asphaltene content indicates a higher potential to
Ultimate analysis An ultimate analysis is used to produce particulate emissions.
determine theoretical air requirements for combustion Burning profile Burning profile is a plot of the rate
of the fuel and also to identify potential environmen- at which a sample of fuel burns under standard con-
tal emission characteristics. ditions as temperature is increased at a fixed rate. The
Heating value The heating value of a liquid fuel is burning profile is a characteristic fingerprint of the
the energy produced by the complete combustion of fuel oxidized under standard conditions and is not in-
one unit of fuel [Btu/lb (J/kg)]. Heating value can be tended to provide absolute kinetic and thermodynamic
reported either as the gross or higher heating value data. It helps evaluate combustion characteristics of
(HHV) or the net or lower heating value (LHV). To various fuels on a relative basis to determine excess air
determine HHV, it is assumed that any water vapor and residence time necessary for complete combustion.
formed during combustion is condensed and cooled to
the initial temperature (i.e., all of the chemical energy
is available). The heat of vaporization of the water Natural gas
formed is included in the HHV. For LHV, it is assumed
that the water vapor does not condense and is not Preparation
available. The heating value determines the quantity Natural gas, found in crude oil reservoirs, either dis-
of fuel necessary to achieve a specified heat input. solved in the oil or as a gas cap above the oil, is called
Specific gravity Specific gravity (sp gr) is the ratio associated gas. Natural gas is also found in reservoirs
of the density of oil to the density of water. It is im- that contain no oil and is termed non-associated gas.
portant because fuel is purchased by volume, in gal- Natural gas, directly from the well, must be treated
lons (l) or barrels (m3). The most widely used fuel oil to produce commercially marketable fuels. Initially,
gravity scale is degree API devised by the American natural gas undergoes a process to remove conden-
Petroleum Institute; its use is recommended by the sate which is distilled to produce butane, propane and
U.S. Bureau of Standards and the U.S. Bureau of stabilized gasoline. Propane and butane are widely
Mines. The scale is based on the following formula: used as bottle gas. They are distributed and stored
liquefied under pressure. When the pressure is re-
141.5 leased, the liquid boils, producing a gaseous fuel.
degrees API = 131.5 Natural gas may contain enough sand or gaseous
sp gr at 60/60F (16/16C)
sulfur compounds to be troublesome. The sand is usu-
[sp gr at 60/60F (16/16C) means when both oil and ally removed at the source. Natural gas containing
water are at 60F (16C)] excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide, commonly
Flash and fire point Flash point is the lowest tem- known as sour gas, can be treated by a process known
perature at which a volatile oil will give off explosive as sweetening. Sweetening removes hydrogen sulfide
or ignitable vapors. It is important in determining oil as well as carbon dioxide. Additional treatments in-
handling and storage requirements. The fire point is clude the removal of mercaptan by soda fixation and
the temperature to which a liquid must be heated to the extraction of long chain hydrocarbons.
produce vapors sufficient for continuous burning Where natural gas is used to replace or supplement
when ignited by an external flame. manufactured gas, it is sometimes reformed to bring its
Pour point The pour point is the temperature at which heating value in line with the manufactured gas. Natu-
a liquid fuel will first flow under standardized conditions. ral gas may also be mixed directly with manufactured
Distillation Distillation determines the quantity gas to increase the heating value of the final product.
and number of fractions which make up the liquid fuel.
Water and sediment Water and sediment are a mea- Transportation, storage and handling
sure of the contaminates in a liquid fuel. The sediment Pipelines are an economical means of transporting
normally consists of calcium, sodium, magnesium, and natural gas in its gaseous form. The rapid increase in
iron compounds. Impurities in the fuel provide an consumption of natural gas in areas far from the
indication of the potential for plugging of fuel han- source has resulted in an extensive system of long
dling and combustion equipment. distance pipelines. Natural gas can also be transported

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by tanker when liquefied under pressure producing nitrogen, ash, asphaltenes, vanadium and other met-
liquefied natural gas (LNG). als. Thus, careful design and cleanup considerations
The distribution of natural gas is subject to some are important when firing a fuel with high levels of
practical limitations because of the energy required these constituents.
for transportation. High pressures, in the order of 1000 Steel mill blast furnaces generate a byproduct gas
psig (6895 kPa), are necessary for economic pipeline containing about 25% carbon monoxide by volume.
transportation over long distances. Compression sta- This fuel can be burned to produce steam for mill heat-
tions are needed at specified intervals to boost the ing and power applications. Many mills also have their
pressure due to losses in the line. own coke producing plant, another source of byproduct
In general, it is not practical to vary the supply of fuel. Coke oven gas is an excellent fuel that burns
natural gas to accommodate the hourly or daily fluc- readily because of its high free hydrogen content.
tuations in consumer demand. For economic reasons, With these gases, available supply pressures and the
long distance pipelines operate with a high load fac- volumetric heating value of fuel may be different from
tor. The rate of withdrawal from the wells may often that of natural gas. Therefore, gas components must
be limited for conservation reasons, and the cost of the be designed to accommodate the particular character-
pipeline to provide the peak rate would be prohibitive. istics of the gas to be burned.
Therefore, to meet fluctuations in demand, it is usu- In the petroleum industry, refinery gas and regen-
ally necessary to provide local storage or to supplement erator offgas are frequently used as energy sources
the supply with manufactured gas for brief periods. for boilers. Refinery gas is a mixture of gaseous hy-
Above ground methods of storage include: 1) large drocarbon streams from various refinery processes.
water seal tanks, 2) in-pipe holders laid parallel to Depending on economic and technical considerations
commercial gas lines, and 3) using the trunk trans- within the refinery, the compositions of these indi-
mission line as a reservoir by building up the line vidual streams vary with process modifications and
pressure. In consumer areas where depleted or par- thus, the resultant refinery gas can change over time.
tially depleted gas and oil wells are available, under- Combustion equipment and controls for refinery gas
ground storage of gas pumped back into these wells must be suitably designed for this variability. Regen-
provides, at minimum cost, the large storage volume erator offgas, or CO (carbon monoxide) gas, is a high-
required to meet seasonal variations in demand. In temperature gas produced in catalytic cracking units.
liquid form, natural gas can be stored in insulated steel CO boilers have been developed to reclaim the ther-
tanks or absorbed in a granular substance, released mal energy present in this gas (see Chapter 27).
by passing warm gas over the grains. Landfill gas is a combustible gas recovered by a gas
collection system at a landfill. Its primary constituents
Fuel properties are methane and carbon dioxide. Landfill gas process-
Natural gas is comprised primarily of methane and ing systems filter suspended particulates and conden-
ethane. Physical properties of practical importance to sate from the gas stream. Additional processing may
boiler applications include constituents by volume be done to further purify the gas, but trace contami-
percent, heating value, specific gravity, sulfur content nants that typically remain in the gas require special
and flammability (see Chapter 9 for typical natural attention when designing fuel handling systems to
gas physical property values). minimize corrosion concerns.

Other liquid and gaseous fuels Oil and gas combustion system design
Numerous combustion system applications utilize The burner is the principal equipment component
liquid or gaseous fuels other than conventional fuel for the combustion of oil and natural gas (Fig. 2). In
oils or natural gas. These fuels include Orimulsion, utility and industrial steam generating units (both
blast furnace gas, coke oven gas, refinery gas, regen- wall and corner-fired designs), the burner admits fuel
erator offgas, landfill gas, and other byproduct gases. and air to the furnace in a manner that ensures safe
The large heavy hydrocarbon and bitumen reserves and efficient combustion while realizing the full capa-
available in Venezuela have led to a bitumen oil emul- bility of the boiler. Burner design determines mixing
sion fuel that has gained acceptability. Orimulsion is characteristics of the fuel and air, fuel particle size and
the trade name for a commercially established fossil distribution, and size and shape of the flame envelope.
fuel oil emulsion. It consists of natural bitumen dis- The means of transporting, measuring and regu-
persed in water, in approximately a 70/30 proportion lating fuel and air to the furnace, together with the
split. The resulting emulsion is stabilized by a surfac- burners, igniters and flame safety equipment, com-
tant package. Orimulsion can be transported over land prises the overall combustion system. The following
or water and stored for extended periods while main- factors must be considered when designing the com-
taining a consistent quality. Although it can be bustion system and when establishing overall perfor-
handled using most of the equipment and systems mance requirements:
originally designed for heavy fuel oil, Orimulsion re- 1. the rate of feed of the fuel and air to comply with
quires some special handling and combustion consid- load demand on the boiler over a predetermined
erations because of its emulsified state. In addition, operating range,
although the fuel exhibits very good combustion char- 2. the types of fuel to be fired including elemental con-
acteristics, it contains relatively high levels of sulfur, stituents and characteristic properties of each fuel,

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Performance requirements
Excess air
Excess air is the air supplied for combustion and
cooling of idle burners in excess of that theoretically
required for complete oxidation of the fuel. Excess air
is generally required to compensate for imperfections
in the air delivery system that results in maldistribu-
tion of combustion air to the burners. Excess air also
helps compensate for imperfect mixing of the air and
fuel in the furnace. At full load, with all burners in
service, excess air required for gas and oil firing, ex-
pressed as a percent of theoretical air, is typically in
the range of 5 to 10%, depending upon fuel type and
the requirements of the combustion system. Operation
at excess air levels below these values is possible if
combustion efficiency does not deteriorate. Combus-
tion efficiency is measured in terms of carbon monox-
ide, unburned combustibles in the ash, soot, particu-
late matter and stack opacity. Through careful design
Fig. 2 Typical oil and gas utility boiler burner front. of the burners and the air delivery system, excess air
can be held to a minimum, thereby minimizing sen-
3. the efficiency of the combustion process to mini- sible heat loss to the stack.
mize unburned combustibles and excess air re- Operation at partial load requires additional excess
quirements, air. When operating with all burners in service at re-
4. imposed limitations on emissions, duced load, lower air velocity at the burners results
5. physical size and complexity of the furnace and in reduced mixing efficiency of the fuel and air. In-
burners to establish the most efficient and eco- creasing the excess air improves combustion turbu-
nomic design, lence and maintains overall combustion efficiency.
6. hardware design and material properties of the Additional excess air and improved burner mixing also
combustion equipment to ensure reliable uninter- compensate for lower furnace temperature during
rupted service for long firing periods, and partial load operation. In some instances, boiler per-
7. safety standards and procedures for control of the formance dictates the use of higher than normal ex-
burners and boiler, including starting, stopping, cess air at reduced loads to maintain steam tempera-
load changes and variations in fuel. ture or to minimize cold end corrosion.
Additional excess air is also necessary when oper-
The combustion system must be designed for opti- ating with burners out of service. Sufficient cooling
mum flexibility of operation, including the potential air must be provided to idle burners to prevent over-
for variations in fuel type, fuel firing rate and combi- heat damage. Permanent thermocouples installed on
nations of burners in and out of service. Control must selected burners measure metal temperatures and
be simple and direct to ensure rapid response to vary- establish the minimum excess air necessary to main-
ing load demands. tain burner temperatures below the maximum use
Combustion air is typically conveyed to the burn- limits of the steel. Excess air for burner cooling varies
ers by forced draft fans. To improve both thermal and with the percentage of burners out of service.
combustion efficiency and further ensure burner sta-
bility, combustion air is normally preheated to a tem- Stability and turndown
perature of 400 to 600F (204 to 316C) by air preheaters Proper burner and combustion system design will
located downstream of the fans. The fans must be permit stable operation of the burners over a wide
capable of delivering adequate quantities of air for operating range. A stable burner, best determined
complete combustion at a pressure sufficient to over- through visual observation, is one where the flame
come losses across the air preheaters, burners, control front remains relatively stationary and the root of the
dampers, and intervening duct work. The total com- flame is securely anchored near the burner fuel ele-
bustion air is that required to theoretically burn all ment. To ensure stable combustion, the burner must
the fuel plus excess air necessary for complete com- be designed to prevent blowoff or flashback of the
bustion. (See Chapter 10.) flame for varying rates of fuel and air flow.
The fuel delivery system must be able to regulate It is often desirable to operate over a wide boiler
fuel pressure and flow to the burners and must be load range without taking burners out of service. This
safeguarded in accordance with applicable fire protec- reduces partial load excess air requirements to cool
tion codes. Proper distribution of fuel to the burners, idle burners. The burners must therefore be capable
in multiple burner applications, is critical to safe and of operating in a turned down condition. Burner turn-
efficient operation of the combustion system. Piping down is defined as the ratio of full load fuel input to
and valves must be designed for allowable velocity lim- partial load input while still maintaining stable com-
its, absolute pressure requirements, and pressure losses. bustion. Limitations in burner turndown are gener-

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ally dictated by fuel characteristics, fuel and air ve- 1. careful distribution and control of fuel and air to
locity, full load to partial load fuel pressures, and ad- the burners,
equacy of the flame safety system. Automated and 2. burner and fuel element design that provides thor-
reliable flame safety supervision, with proper safe- ough mixing of fuel and air and promotes rapid,
guards, must be available to achieve high burner turbulent combustion, and
turndown ratios. 3. proper burner arrangement and furnace geometry
With gas firing, a turndown ratio of 10:1 is not un- to provide sufficient residence time to complete
common. Natural gas is easily burned and relatively chemical reactions in a thermal environment con-
easy to control. Residual oil, on the other hand, is more ducive to stable and self-sustained combustion.
difficult to burn. Combustion characteristics are highly
sensitive to particle size distribution, excess air and In most cases, boiler efficiency loss due to unburned
burner turbulence. A typical turndown ratio for oil is carbon loss (UCL) when firing oil and natural gas is
in the order of 6:1, depending upon fuel characteris- virtually negligible. However, depending on fuel oil
tics, flexibility of the delivery system and atomization properties and the condition of the combustion system,
technique. the percent UCL can be in the order of 0.10% while
firing oil. Combustion efficiency with these fuels is
Burner pulsation usually measured in terms of carbon monoxide (CO)
Burner pulsation is a phenomenon frequently as- emissions, particulate emissions and stack opacity.
sociated with natural gas firing and, to a lesser de- Generally, CO levels less than 200 ppm (corrected to
gree, with oil firing. Pulsation is thought to occur 3% O2) are considered satisfactory.
when fuel rich pockets of gas suddenly and repeat-
edly ignite within the flame envelope. The resultant Emission control techniques
pulsating burner flame is often accompanied by a noise
referred to as combustion rumble. Combustion rumble Ever increasing concern over atmospheric pollut-
may transmit frequencies that coincide with the natu- ants is changing the focus of wall and corner-fired
ral frequency of the furnace enclosure resulting in ap- boiler and combustion system designs. The combus-
parent boiler vibration. In some instances, these vi- tion of fossil fuels produces emissions that have been
brations may become alarmingly violent. attributed to the formation of acid rain, smog, changes
Boiler vibration on large furnaces can sometimes to the ozone layer, and the so-called greenhouse effect.
be attributed to a single burner. Minor air flow adjust- To mitigate these problems, federal and local regula-
ment to a given burner, or removing select burners tions are currently in place that limit oxides of nitro-
from service, may suddenly start or stop pulsations. gen, oxides of sulfur, particulate matter and stack
Pulsation problems can be corrected through changes opacity. While emission limits vary depending upon
to burner hardware that affect mixing patterns of the state and local regulations, the trend is toward more
fuel and air. Changes to the burner throat profile to stringent control. (See also Chapter 32.)
correct anomalies in burner aerodynamics or changes Many combustion control techniques have emerged
to the fuel element discharge ports have successfully to reduce fossil fuel emissions. These techniques gen-
eliminated pulsation. erally focus on the reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx),
Historical operating data has enabled the develop- as changes to the combustion process can greatly in-
ment of empirical curves that are useful in designing fluence NOx formation and destruction.
burners to avoid pulsation. These curves relate the
potential for burner pulsation to the ratio of burner Oxides of nitrogen
fuel to air velocity. Together with careful consideration Nitrogen oxides in the form of NO and NO2 are
of furnace geometry, burner firing patterns and formed during combustion by two primary mecha-
burner aerodynamics, problems with burner pulsation nisms: thermal NOx and fuel NOx. A secondary mecha-
are becoming less common. nism called prompt NOx can also contribute to overall
NOx formation.
Combustion efficiency Thermal NOx results from the dissociation and oxi-
Many factors influence combustion efficiency in- dation of nitrogen in the combustion air. The rate and
cluding excess air, burner mixing, fuel properties, degree of thermal NOx formation is dependent upon
furnace thermal environment, residence time, and oxygen availability during the combustion process and
particle size and distribution. Complete combustion is exponentially dependent upon combustion tempera-
occurs when all combustible elements and compounds ture. Thermal NOx reactions occur rapidly at combus-
of the fuel are entirely oxidized. In utility and indus- tion temperatures in excess of 2800F (1538C). Ther-
trial boilers, the goal is to achieve the highest degree mal NOx is the primary source of NOx formation from
of combustion efficiency with the lowest possible ex- natural gas and distillate oils because these fuels are
cess air. Thermal efficiency decreases with increasing generally low in or devoid of fuel-bound nitrogen.
quantities of excess air. Combustion performance is Fuel NOx, on the other hand, results from oxidation
then measured in terms of the boiler efficiency loss due of nitrogen organically bound in the fuel and is the
to incomplete combustion together with the efficiency primary source of NOx formation from heavy fuel oil.
loss due to sensible heat in the stack gases. Fuel bound nitrogen in the form of volatile compounds
From the standpoint of optimum combustion effi- is intimately tied to the fuel hydrocarbon chains. For
ciency, the following factors are critical to proper design: this reason, the formation of fuel NOx is linked to both

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fuel nitrogen content and fuel volatility. Inhibiting nied by higher levels of CO in the flue gas and boiler
oxygen availability during the early stages of combus- back-end oxygen (O2) imbalances. With oil firing, an
tion, where the fuel devolatilizes, is the most effective increase in particulate emissions and increased stack
means of controlling fuel NOx formation. opacity are likely. Through trial and error, some pat-
Prompt NOx is formed during the early, low tem- terns of burners out of service may prove more suc-
perature stages of combustion. Hydrocarbon frag- cessful than others. A limiting factor is the ability of
ments may react with atmospheric nitrogen under existing burners to handle the increased input necessary
fuel-rich conditions to yield fixed nitrogen species. to maintain full load operation. Short of derating the
These, in turn, can be oxidized to NO in the lean zone unit, changes to fuel element sizes may be required.
of the flame. In most flames, especially those from ni- Two-stage combustion Two-stage combustion is a
trogen-containing fuels, the prompt mechanism is re- relatively long standing and accepted method of
sponsible for only a small fraction of the total NOx. achieving significant NOx reduction. Combustion air
Numerous combustion process NOx control tech- is directed to the burner zone in quantities less than
niques are commonly used. These vary in effective- that required to theoretically burn the fuel, with the
ness and cost. In all cases, control methods are mainly remainder of the air introduced through overfire air
aimed at reducing either thermal NOx, fuel NOx, or a ports. By diverting combustion air away from the
combination of both. A range of typical anticipated NOx burners, oxygen concentration in the lower furnace
emission levels relative to various NOx control mecha- is reduced, thereby limiting the oxidation of chemi-
nisms is shown in Fig. 3. cally bound nitrogen in the fuel. By introducing the
Low excess air Low excess air (LEA) effectively re- total combustion air over a larger portion of the fur-
duces NOx emissions with little, if any, capital expen- nace, peak flame temperatures are also lowered.
diture. LEA is a desirable method of increasing ther- Appropriate design of a two-stage combustion sys-
mal efficiency and has the added benefit of inhibit- tem can reduce NOx emissions by as much as 50% and
ing thermal NOx. If burner stability and combustion simultaneously maintain acceptable combustion per-
efficiency are maintained at acceptable levels, lower- formance. The following factors must be considered in
ing the excess air may reduce NOx by as much as 5 to the overall design of the system.
15% from an uncontrolled baseline. The success of this
1. Burner zone stoichiometry The fraction of theo-
method depends largely upon fuel properties and the
retical air directed to the burners is predetermined
ability to carefully control fuel and air distribution to
to allow proper sizing of the burners and overfire
the burners. Operation may require more sophisti-
air ports. Normally a burner zone stoichiometry
cated methods of measuring and regulating fuel and
in the range of 0.85 to 0.90 will result in desired
air flow to the burners and modifications to the air
levels of NOx reduction without notable adverse
delivery system to ensure equal distribution of com-
effects on combustion stability and turndown.
bustion air to all burners.
2. Overfire air port design Overfire air ports must
Burners out of service Essentially a simple form of
be designed for thorough mixing of air and com-
two-stage combustion, burners out of service (BOOS)
bustion gases in the second stage of combustion.
is a simple and direct method of reducing NOx emis-
Ports must have the flexibility to regulate flow and
sions. When removing burners from service in mul-
air penetration to promote mixing both near the
tiple burner applications, active burner inputs are
furnace walls and toward the center of the furnace.
typically increased to maintain load. Without chang-
Mixing efficiency must be maintained over the an-
ing total air flow, increased fuel input to the active
ticipated boiler load range and the range in burner
burners results in a fuel rich mixture, effectively lim-
zone stoichiometries.
iting oxygen availability and thereby limiting both
3. Burner design Burners must be able to operate
fuel and thermal NOx formation. Air control registers
at lower air flow rates and velocities without det-
on the out of service burners remain open, essentially
riment to combustion stability. In a two-stage
serving as staging ports.
combustion system, burner zone stoichiometry is
While a fairly significant NOx reduction is possible
typically increased with decreasing load to ensure
with this method, lower NOx is frequently accompa-
that burner air velocities are maintained above mini-
mum limits. This further ensures positive windbox-
Gas Firing Oil Firing
to-furnace differential pressures at reduced loads.
4. Overfire air port location Sufficient residence time
Relative NO Emissions, %

from the burner zone to the overfire air ports and
from the ports to the furnace exit is critical to proper
system design. Overfire air ports must be located to
optimize NOx reduction and combustion efficiency
and to limit change to furnace exit gas temperatures.
20 5. Furnace geometry Furnace geometry influences
burner arrangement and flame patterns, residence
0 time and thermal environment during the first and
Uncontrolled LEA BOOS TSC FGR + TSC second stages of combustion. Liberal furnace siz-
Fig. 3 Approximate NOx emission reductions for oil and gas burners ing is generally favorable for lower NOx as com-
using various control techniques. (LEA = low excess air; BOOS =
burner out of service; TSC = two-stage combustion; FGR = flue gas bustion temperatures are lower and residence
recirculation.) times are increased.

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6. Air flow control Ideally, overfire air ports are

housed in a dedicated windbox compartment. In
this manner, air to the NOx ports can be metered
and controlled separately from air to the burners.
This permits operation at desired stoichiometric
levels in the lower furnace and allows for compen-
sation to the flow split as a result of air flow ad-
justments to individual burners or NOx ports.
Additional flexibility in controlling burner fuel and
air flow characteristics is required to optimize combus-
tion under a two-stage system. Improved burner de-
signs have addressed these needs.
In the reducing gas of the lower furnace, sulfur in
the fuel forms hydrogen sulfide (H2S) rather than
sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfur trioxide (SO3). The
corrosiveness of reducing gas and the potential for
increased corrosion of lower furnace wall tubes is
highly dependent upon H2S concentration. Two-stage
combustion is therefore not normally recommended
when firing high sulfur residual fuel oils except when
extra furnace wall protection measures are included. Fig. 4 Flue gas recirculation low NOx system for oil and gas firing.
Flue gas recirculation Flue gas recirculation (FGR)
to the burners is instrumental in reducing NOx emis-
sions when the contribution of fuel nitrogen to total nique must, in virtually all cases, be accompanied by
NOx formation is small. For this reason, the use of gas the installation of overfire air ports. Oil and gas burn-
recirculation is generally limited to the combustion of ers, initially designed without future consideration to
natural gas and fuel oils. By introducing flue gas from FGR, are not properly sized to accommodate the in-
the economizer outlet into the combustion air stream, crease in burner mass flow as a result of recirculated
burner peak flame temperatures are lowered and NOx flue gas. The quantity of flue gas necessary to signifi-
emissions are significantly reduced. (See Fig. 4.) cantly reduce NOx emissions will, in all likelihood, re-
Air foils are commonly used to mix recirculated flue sult in burner throat velocities that exceed standard
gas with the combustion air. Flue gas is introduced in design practices. This, in turn, may cause burner in-
the sides of the secondary air measuring foils and exits stability, prohibitive burner differentials and in the
through slots downstream of the air measurement case of gas firing, undesirable pulsation. Therefore,
taps. This method ensures thorough mixing of flue gas the installation of overfire air ports in conjunction with
and combustion air before reaching the burners and does FGR serves two useful purposes, 1) lower NOx emis-
not affect the air flow metering capability of the foils. sions through two-stage combustion, and 2) a decrease
In general, increasing the rate of flue gas recircu- in mass flow of air to the burners to accommodate the
lation to the burners results in an increasingly signifi- increased burden of recirculated flue gas.
cant NOx reduction. Target NOx emission levels and When employing flue gas recirculation in combina-
limitations on equipment size and boiler components tion with overfire air, it is desirable to house the
dictate the practical limit of recirculated flue gas for overfire air ports in a dedicated windbox compartment
NOx control. Other limiting factors include burner sta- separate from the burners. In this manner, it is pos-
bility and oxygen concentration of the combustion air. sible to introduce recirculated flue gas to the burners
Typically, oxygen content must be maintained at or only. This permits more efficient use of the GR fans
above 17% on a dry basis for safe and reliable opera- and overall system design as only that portion of flue
tion of the combustion equipment. gas introduced through the burners is considered ef-
The expense of a flue gas recirculation system can fective in controlling NOx emissions.
be significant. Gas recirculation (GR) fans may be An inexpensive means of recirculating lesser
required for the desired flow quantities at static pres- amounts of flue gas is induced FGR, or IFGR. Here,
sures capable of overcoming losses through the flues, flue gas is introduced through the forced draft fan(s)
ducts, mixing devices and the burners themselves. and is restricted by the fans capacity for flue gas. The
Additional controls and instruments are also necessary effectiveness of IFGR is, as a result, limited.
to regulate GR flow to the windbox at desired levels Reburning Reburning is an in-furnace NOx control
over the load range. In retrofit applications, signifi- technique that divides the furnace into three distinct
cant cost is associated with routing of flues and ducts zones (main, reburn, and burnout). By effectively stag-
to permit mixing of the flue gas with combustion air. ing both fuel and combustion air, NOx emission reduc-
Also, the accompanying increase in furnace gas tions of 50 to 75% from baseline levels can be achieved.
weight at full load operation may require modifications Heat input is spread over a larger portion of the furnace,
to convection pass surfaces or dictate changes to stan- with combustion air carefully regulated to the various
dard operating procedures. zones to achieve optimum NOx reduction (Fig. 5).
From an operational standpoint, the introduction In reburning, the lower furnace or main burner
of flue gas recirculation as a retrofit NOx control tech- zone provides the major portion of the total heat in-

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-7

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

put to the furnace. Depending on the percent NOx ogy adds complexity to operation and maintenance of
reduction and the specific combustion system require- the overall combustion system, it also provides consid-
ments, the main zone burners can be designed to op- erable emission performance optimization flexibility.
erate at less than theoretical air to normal excess air In addition, higher initial costs for a reburn system
levels. Combustion gases from the main burner zone as compared to other combustion techniques need to
then pass through a second combustion zone termed be factored into the evaluation process. From an eco-
the reburning zone. Here, burners provide the remain- nomic standpoint, the potential benefits and techni-
ing heat input to the furnace to achieve full load op- cal merit of the reburning process must be commen-
eration but at a significantly lower stoichiometry. By surate with long term goals for NOx abatement.
injecting reburn fuel above the main burner zone, a
NOx reducing region is produced in the furnace where Oxides of sulfur
hydrocarbon radicals from the partially oxidized The sulfur content of fuel oils can range anywhere
reburn fuel strip oxygen from the NO molecules, form- from a fraction of a percent for lighter oils to 3.5% for
ing nitrogen compounds and eventually molecular some residual oils. During the combustion process,
nitrogen (N2). Overfire air ports are installed above the sulfur contained in the fuel is converted to either sul-
reburning zone where the remainder of air is introduced fur dioxide, SO2, or sulfur trioxide, SO3 (SOx emis-
to complete combustion in an environment both chemi- sions). The control of SOx emissions is a key environ-
cally and thermally non-conducive to NOx formation. mental concern and sulfur compounds in the flue gas
Application of this technology must consider a num- can also cause corrosion problems in the boiler and
ber of variables. System parameters requiring defini- downstream equipment.
tion include: fuel split between the main combustion SO3 will form sulfuric acid when cooled in the pres-
zone and the reburn zone, stoichiometry to the main ence of water vapor. In addition to corrosion problems,
and reburn burners, overall stoichiometry in the it can produce emissions of acid smut and visible
reburn and burnout zones of the furnace, residence plume opacity from the stack. Emissions of SO3 are best
time in the reburn zone, and residence time required controlled during combustion through low excess air
above the overfire air ports to complete combustion. operation and can also be reduced by use of magne-
An optimum range of values has been defined for each sium based fuel additives.
of these parameters through laboratory tests and field Techniques to control sulfur oxides during the com-
application and is largely dependent upon the type of bustion process have been investigated in laboratory
fuel being fired. For example, fuels with high sulfur and pilot scale tests with varying degrees of success. At
contents (Orimulsion or some heavy fuel oils) are not present, however, the most effective and commercially
as suitable in applications where operating the main accepted method, short of firing low sulfur fuels, is to
combustion zone under low sub-stoichiometric condi- install flue gas cleanup equipment. (See Chapter 35.)
tions is required to reduce NOx levels due to corrosion
concerns. For these fuels, reburning technology can Particulate matter
be effectively used by operating the main zone at Particulate matter in the form of soot or coke is a
higher stoichiometries, thus minimizing corrosion con- byproduct of the combustion process resulting from
cerns while still achieving good NOx reduction results. carryover of inert mineral matter in the fuel and from
Although implementation of the reburning technol- incomplete combustion. Primarily a concern on oil-
fired units, particulate matter becomes apparent when
fuel oil droplets undergo a form of fractional distilla-
tion during combustion, leaving relatively large car-
bonaceous particles known as cenospheres.
Cenospheres are porous, hollow particles of carbon
that are virtually unaffected by further combustion
in a conventional furnace environment. Cenospheres
can also absorb sulfur oxides in the gaseous phase and
Burnout Zone thereby further contribute to the formation of ash
Balance of Overfire
Combustion Air Ports
Zone Stoichiometry particles contaminated with acid.
Air Particulate matter from the combustion of fuel oil
is, in large part, a function of the fuel properties. Ash
Zone Reburn Zone content of the fuel oil plays a significant role in form-
Heat Input
(Flue Gas
Reburn Stoichiometry ing submicron particulate emissions. These ultrafine
Recirculation- particulate emissions are potentially more dangerous
to the environment than larger particles as they tend
Low NO Main 0.90-1.10 Main
70-90% Main Combustion Combustion Zone to stay suspended in the atmosphere. The fuel oil
Heat Input Burners Zone Stoichiometry property most closely linked to forming cenospheres
during the combustion process is asphaltene concen-
tration. Asphaltenes are high molecular weight hydro-
carbons that do not vaporize when heated. The com-
bustion of fuel oils high in asphaltene content pro-
Fig. 5 Boiler side view showing reburn principle and combustion duces a greater quantity of large and intermediate
zones for a utility boiler. size particulate emissions. Carbon residue, commonly

11-8 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

determined by the Conradson Carbon Test, is also a applications. The tangentially disposed doors of the cir-
means of evaluating the tendency to form particulate cular burner air register provide the turbulence nec-
matter during combustion. essary to mix the fuel and air and produce short, com-
Control of particulate emissions is best achieved pact flames. This burner typically operates with high
through proper atomization of the fuel oil and care- secondary air velocities providing rapid, turbulent
ful design of the burners and combustion control sys- combustion for high combustion efficiency. Fuel is in-
tem to ensure thorough and complete mixing of fuel troduced to the burner in a fairly dense mixture in the
and air. Liberal residence time in a high temperature center. The direction and velocity of the air and dis-
environment is favorable for complete combustion of persion of the fuel result in complete and thorough
fuel and low particulate emissions, although not con- mixing of fuel and air.
ducive to low NOx emissions. Oil emulsification also has
a favorable impact on reducing particulate emissions. XCL-S type burner
Oil emulsified with water further breaks up individual The XCL-S type oil and gas combination burner
oil droplets when the water vaporizes during combus- shown in Fig. 7 was originally developed to replace
tion. In addition, many fuel additives are now avail- the circular burner. It not only met the demand for
able to promote carbon burnout. These additives are added flexibility and improved control of combustion
primarily transition metals such as iron, manganese, air flow, but also incorporated the necessary design
cobalt and nickel that act as catalysts for the further features to result in producing low NOx emission lev-
oxidation of carbon particles. els. The XCL-S type burner incorporates several de-
sign features not available with the circular register.
Opacity This burner has two air zones: the inner or core zone
A visible plume emanating from the stack is unde- and the outer secondary air zone. When firing natu-
sirable from both a regulatory and public relations ral gas or oil, combustion air is introduced to the core
standpoint. Stack opacity is controlled in much the zone through slots located around the periphery of the
same manner as particulate emissions. Careful selec- inner sleeve. An oil impeller or swirler is unnecessary
tion of fuels and complete combustion are keys to mini- with this burner; control of the flow entering the core
mizing plume visibility. zone ensures stable ignition. The core zone houses the
Dark plumes are generally the result of incomplete main gas fuel element(s) and the main fuel oil atomizer.
combustion and can be controlled by careful attention The majority of combustion air enters the burner
to the combustion process and through transition through the outer air zone. Axially disposed spin
metal-based additives. White plumes are frequently vanes are located in the outer sleeve to impart swirl
the result of sulfuric acid in the flue gas and can be to the combustion air and a sliding disk separately
controlled by low excess air operation or alkaline-based controls total air to the burner independent of swirl.
fuel additives that neutralize the acid. An air zone swirler (AZS) device can also be incorporated
The simultaneous control of all criteria pollutants into this zone to help reduce excess air and associated
poses a significant challenge to the burner and boiler emission levels. The burner is equipped with an air mea-
designer. Techniques, or operating conditions, effective suring device upstream of the spin vanes. This device
in reducing one form of atmospheric contaminant are provides a relative indication of air flow to each burner
frequently detrimental to controlling others or to unit and, on multiple burner applications, permits balancing
performance. For this reason, hardware design and com- of air flow from burner to burner. The outer zone also
bustion controls are becoming increasingly complex. houses the igniter and flame detection equipment.
Modern boilers must have the added flexibility neces- Because it can measure air flow to individual burn-
sary to optimize thermal efficiency and combustion perfor- ers and regulate total air flow independent of swirl,
mance in conjunction with sound environmental practices. the XCL-S type burner provides the added flexibility

Burner selection and design

As environmental concerns continue to dictate boiler
and combustion system design, higher standards of per-
formance are imposed on the fuel burning equipment.
Control techniques to reduce NOx emissions can conflict
with proven methods of good combustion performance,
e.g., time, temperature and turbulence.
Potential increases in carbon monoxide emissions,
particulate emissions and stack opacity as a result of
low NOx operation suggest that the burners must be
capable of continued reliable mechanical operation
and of providing the flexibility necessary to optimize
combustion under a variety of operating conditions.
Circular burner
Shown in Fig. 6, the circular type burner has long Fig. 6 Circular register burner with water-cooled throat for oil and
been the standard design for wall-fired oil and gas gas firing.

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-9

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Core Air Sliding Air Pitot

Damper Damper Grid

Linear Adjustable
Actuator Vanes

Gas Manifold Adjustable

Inlet Connection Hemispherical
Gas Spuds

Oil Gun


Burner Support

Fig. 7 XCL-S low NOx burner for oil and gas.

needed when employing combustion control tech- is used to support combustion and stabilize flames. The
niques aimed at reducing NOx emissions. This burner balance of the air, known as auxiliary air, is used to
is ideally suited as an upgrade to existing circular (or complete combustion and is introduced through the
other wall-fired type) burners as burner throat pres- compartments located above and below each fuel el-
sure part modifications can typically be avoided. evation. All of the combustion air enters through the cor-
This advanced low NOx burner achieves superior ner windbox assemblies and is distributed in the windbox
emission performance in burner only applications, as by a system of dampers at the inlet of each compartment.
well as situations using overfire air and/or flue gas The fuel air dampers are controlled based on fuel flow
recirculation. In applications using overfire air ports, rate whereas the auxiliary air dampers are controlled
The Babcock & Wilcox Companys (B&Ws) Dual Air Zone based on windbox to furnace differential pressure.
port provides maximum operating flexibility to optimize The most cost effective method of reducing NOx in
overall performance. See Chapter 14 for more details. oil and/or natural gas corner-fired boilers is by addi-
tion of overfire air which uses the air staging or two
Corner-firing system stage combustion principle commonly used with pul-
The general theory and configuration for corner fir- verized coal firing. Application of overfire air to a cor-
ing of oil and/or natural gas is the same as that for ner fired system involves diverting a portion of the
pulverized coal firing described in Chapter 14. auxiliary air to an overfire air zone located above the
Fuel and combustion air are introduced and distrib- combustion zone (admitted at the top of the windbox
uted in each corner of the furnace through windbox through two or more compartments and/or through
assemblies similar to that shown in Fig. 8. The gen- separate ports located several feet above the top fuel
eral arrangement of the windbox for natural gas or elevation). The overfire air port compartments are
oil firing is essentially the same as that for coal firing typically equipped with individual dampers to control
in that the windbox is divided along its height into air flow, tilting mechanisms to allow for variation in
alternating compartments of fuel and air. For oil fir- separation distance for improved NOx performance,
ing, a retractable oil gun is inserted into the center and air flow measuring devices (e.g., pitot tubes) to
air nozzle of each fuel compartment. For natural gas facilitate air flow control. The design and arrangement
firing, a stationary manifold gas nozzle attached to of the B&W overfire air system and corresponding
the inside of the windbox fuel compartment distrib- windbox modifications for oil and/or natural gas firing
utes fuel into the bellmouth of the air nozzle. are similar to that described in Chapter 14 for pulver-
For conventional firing applications, approximately ized coal firing.
half of the total combustion air is introduced through Also, flue gas recirculation (FGR) has been used
the fuel compartments. This is known as fuel air and successfully and has provided significant NOx reduc-

11-10 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

tions in units firing natural gas and/or heavy fuel oil. fuel separate in the fuel supply system causing flow
With FGR, a portion of the flue gas (typically 10 to interruptions and subsequent loss of ignition. Fuel
15% by weight) is taken from the boiler exhaust and supplied to the atomizers must also be free of acid, grit
is mixed with the combustion air. However, the use of and fibrous or other foreign matter likely to clog or
FGR requires careful analysis as its effects on boiler damage hardware components.
operation and maintenance costs can be significant. Fuel oil is atomized by either mechanical or dual
fluid atomizers that use steam or air as the medium.
Fuel oil equipment The choice of whether to use mechanical or steam at-
Oil for combustion must be atomized into the fur- omization is determined by the boiler design and op-
nace as a fine mist and dispersed into the combustion erating requirements. In general, steam assisted at-
air stream. Proper atomization is the key to efficient omizers produce a higher quality spray and are more
combustion and reduced particulate emissions. Atomi- appropriate for low NOx applications or where particu-
zation quality is measured in terms of droplet size and late emissions and stack opacity are of primary con-
droplet size distribution. High quality atomization cern. At some installations, however, the heat balance
occurs when oil droplets are small, producing high is such that steam can not be used economically for
surface to volume ratios and thereby exposing more oil atomization. Another factor to consider is the ne-
surface to the combustion air. A convenient means of cessity to conserve boiler feedwater. In these instances,
expressing and comparing atomization quality pro- mechanical atomization may be more appropriate.
duced by various atomizer designs is the Sauter mean B&Ws atomization test facility has been used to
diameter (Dsm). This is the ratio of the mean volume quantitatively and qualitatively characterize numer-
of the oil droplets over the mean surface area, ex- ous atomizer designs through state-of-the-art laser
pressed in microns. The lower the Sauter mean diam- diagnostic techniques. B&Ws family of atomizers
eter, the better the atomization. range from mechanical Return Flow to various dual
For proper atomization, oil grades heavier than No. fluid (Racer, Y-Jet, T-Jet, and I-Jet) atomizer types.
2 must be heated by means of steam or electric heat- A summary of their operating characteristics is pro-
ers to reduce their viscosity to between 100 and 150 vided in Fig. 9.
SUS (Saybolt Universal Seconds). In heating fuel oils, Mechanical atomizers With mechanical atomizers,
caution must be observed to ensure that temperatures the pressure of the fuel itself provides the energy nec-
are not raised to the point where vapor lock may oc- essary for atomization. These atomizers require rela-
cur. Vapor lock results when volatile fractions of the tively high pressure oil for proper performance. Three
conventional types are in common use: the Uniflow,
the Return Flow and the Steam Mechanical atomizer.
The Uniflow atomizer is used in small and medium
sized stationary power plants, as well as in naval and
merchant marine boilers. This atomizer is simple to
operate and made with as few parts as possible. Fuel
is introduced into ports that discharge tangentially
into a whirl chamber. The fuel is spun out of the whirl
chamber and passes through an orifice into the com-
bustion chamber as a well atomized conical spray.
Required oil pressure at the atomizer is above 300 psig
(2.07 MPa gauge) for heat inputs of 70 to 80 106 Btu/
h (20.5 to 23.4 MWt).
The Return Flow atomizer (Fig. 10) is used on ei-
ther stationary or marine boilers that require wide
capacity ranges. This atomizer is designed to minimize,
or eliminate entirely, the need for changing sprayer
plates or the number of burners in service during
normal operation. A wide range of operation is possible
by maintaining a high flow through the sprayer plate
slots even at reduced firing rates. At reduced firing
rates, because the quantity of oil supplied is greater
than the required firing rate, the excess oil is returned
to a low pressure point in the piping system. The required
oil pressure at the atomizer must be either 600 or 1000
psig (4.14 or 6.90 MPa gauge) depending upon fuel,
capacity and load range requirements. Maximum input
is in the order of 200 106 Btu/h (58.6 MWt).
The Steam Mechanical atomizer combines the fea-
tures of steam and mechanical atomization permitting
operation over wide ranges, including low loads with
Fig. 8 Windbox assembly for corner-firing system; compartment cold furnaces. At high loads it can be operated as a
dampers on opposite side not shown (courtesy of R-V Industries, Inc.). mechanical atomizer. At reduced loads mechanical

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-11

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

200 consumption rates, and atomization quality based on

resultant oil droplet particle size distributions. Fig. 9
summarized these various characteristics for each of
150 the atomizers.
The Y-jet is designed for a wide firing range with-

Sauder Mean Diameter, Microns

out changing the number of burners in service or the
size of the sprayer plate. It can be used on any type
Droplet % Over 320 Micron

20 100
of boiler with either steam or air atomization. Fuel oil
15 and atomizing medium flow through separate chan-
nels to the atomizer sprayer plate assembly where they
10 50 mix immediately before discharging into the furnace.
Required oil pressure at the atomizer for maximum
capacity ranges from 65 to 90 psig (0.45 to 0.62 MPa
gauge). The Y-jet is a constant differential atomizer
Racer Y-Jet T-Jet I-Jet design requiring steam pressure to be maintained at
Turndown 5 to 1 10 to 1 6 to 1 6 to 1 8 to 1 40 psi (0.28 MPa) over the oil pressure throughout the
normal operating range. Steam consumption with this
design is in the order of 0.1 lb steam/lb oil.
Steam Flow/Oil Flow

The Racer atomizer is a refinement of the Y-jet. It
0.10 was developed primarily for use where high burner
turndown and low atomizing steam consumption are
0.15 required. The Racer name refers to the class of mer-
chant ship where this atomizer was first used. Re-
quired design oil pressure for maximum capacity is 300
Fig. 9 Operating characteristics of B&W atomizers.
psig (2.07 MPa gauge). Steam pressure is held con-
stant throughout the load range at 150 psig (1.03 MPa
atomization is augmented by the use of steam. Re- gauge). Atomizing steam consumption at full load is
quired oil pressure is 200 to 300 psig (1.38 to 2.07 MPa approximately 0.02 lb steam/lb oil.
gauge) depending upon capacity requirements. Steam The T-jet and I-jet atomizers also allow a wide range
pressure at the atomizer must be 10 to 15 psi (0.07 to of operation without the need for excessive oil pres-
0.10 MPa) above oil pressure not to exceed 125 psig sure. These atomizer designs are unique in that the
(0.86 MPa gauge). Maximum capacity of this atomizer steam and oil are mixed in a chamber prior to discharg-
is in the order of 80 to 90 106 Btu/h (23.4 to 26.4 MWt). ing through the sprayer cap (Fig. 11). Rated capacity
Residual fuel oils contain heavy residues that may oil pressure for the T-jet may range from 90 to 110 psig
condense on cold surfaces creating potentially hazard- (0.62 to 0.76 MPa gauge) depending upon fuel and
ous conditions. Improving atomization quality can capacity requirement. The I-jet atomizer rated capac-
help avoid this situation. A certain number of steam ity oil pressure ranges from 70 to about 170 psig (0.48
or air atomizers could be provided for satisfactory op- to 1.17 MPa gauge). Of the constant differential va-
eration when boiling and drying out new units and riety, the I-jet and T-jet require a steam pressure of
for continued operation at very low capacities. approximately 20 to 40 psi (0.14 to 0.28 MPa) above
Steam atomizers Due to better operating and safety oil pressure. Steam pressures may be adjusted to ob-
characteristics, steam assisted atomization is pre- tain optimum combustion performance. Steam con-
ferred. Steam atomization generally produces a finer sumption rates vary with these atomizer designs de-
spray. The steam-fuel emulsion produced in a dual pending upon actual operating pressures. The stan-
fluid atomizer reduces oil droplet size when released dard design steam consumption rates at full atomizer
into the furnace through rapid expansion of the steam.
As a minimum, dry saturated steam at the specified
pressure must be used for fuel oil atomization to avoid
the potential for burner pulsation. Typically, 20 to 40F Supply Fuel Barrel
(11.1 to 22.2C) superheat is recommended to avoid Return Fuel Barrel
such problems. If necessary, moisture free compressed
air can be substituted. Air Holes
Several steam atomizer designs are available in Regulating Rod

sizes up to 300 106 Btu/h (87.9 MWt) or about 16,500

lb/h (2.08 kg/s) of fuel. Required oil pressure is much
lower than for mechanical atomizers. Steam and oil
pressure requirements are dependent upon the spe-
cific atomizer design. Maximum oil pressure can be as Oil Inlet Slip Fit

much as 300 psig (2.07 MPa gauge) with steam pres- Oil Return Sprayer Head
sures as high as about 200 psig (1.38 MPa gauge). The Oil Supply Intermediate Plate
Oil Return
four most common steam atomizer designs are the Y- Sprayer Plate
jet, Racer, T-jet and I-jet. (See Fig. 11.) Each design is
characterized by different operating ranges, steam Fig. 10 Mechanical Return Flow oil atomizer assembly.

11-12 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Mix Chamber (side view) Sprayer Cap (side view) Sprayer Cap (front view)

Outer Internal Mix Sprayer

Barrel Tube Chamber Cap

Steam/Air Inlet

Oil Inlet

Fig. 11 I-jet atomizer assembly.

capacity for the T-jet and I-jet are 0.20 and 0.10 lb 3. The location of the spud tip, with respect to the
steam/lb oil, respectively. In general, higher steam con- burner throat, can be varied to a limited degree
sumption rates result in improved atomization quality. for optimum firing conditions.
A disadvantage of the steam atomizer is its con- 4. Individual gas spud flame retainers provide added sta-
sumption of steam. For a large unit, this can amount bility and are more conducive to lower NOx emissions.
to a sizable quantity of steam and consequent heat
This gas element design adds needed flexibility for
loss to the stack. When the boiler supplies a substan-
optimizing combustion under a variety of operating
tial amount of steam for a process where condensate
conditions. With proper selection of control equipment,
recovery is small, the additional makeup for the steam
the operator can change from one fuel to another with-
atomizer is inconsequential. However, in a large util-
out a drop in load or boiler pressure. Simultaneous
ity boiler where turbine losses are low and there is little
firing of natural gas and oil in the same burner is
makeup, the use of atomizing steam can have a sig-
acceptable on burners equipped with the variable-mix
nificant effect.
multi-spud arrangement.
The hemispherical gas element (Fig. 12) was devel-
Natural gas equipment oped for use with the low NOx XCL-S and FM-XCL
Three common types of gas element assemblies (package boiler application version of the XCL-S) type
available for the combustion of commercial high Btu burners. With the exception of the flame retainers, the
natural gas are the variable mix multi-spud, hemi- hemispherical gas element offers the same features as
spherical multi-spud and the radial spud. The vari- the variable mix element design. This gas element,
able mix multi-spud gas element was developed for use however, can achieve lower NOx emissions by virtue
with the circular type burner. The goal was to improve of the tip profile, drilling pattern and location within
ignition stability when flue gas recirculation or two- the burner.
stage combustion are implemented for NOx control. The radial spud design consists of a manifold located
This design uses a manifold outside the furnace, with inside the windbox with individual gas elements pro-
a number of individual gas elements, or spuds, project- jecting into the burner throat. Unlike the variable mix
ing through the windbox into the throat. The following and hemispherical design, the radial spud is not con-
is a list of the distinctive features of this gas element: ducive to low NOx emissions. Use of the radial spud is
1. Individual gas spuds are removable with the boiler reserved for applications where coal and gas are fired
in service to enable cleaning or redrilling of the in the same burner and where stringent NOx emission
gas nozzles as required. limits are not an issue.
2. Individual spuds can be rotated to orient the dis- For low NOx gas firing capability in a burner that
charge holes for optimum firing conditions with must also be capable of firing pulverized coal, a single,
the burner in service. high-capacity gas element (HCGE) is used (Fig. 13).

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-13

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

The HCGEs drilling pattern and its location on the landfill gas, or other byproduct gases to produce steam.
axial centerline of the burner inside the coal nozzle (See Chapter 27.)
promote lower NOx emissions as a result of slower Burners are designed specifically to fire these
mixing of fuel and air. The gas flame associated with byproduct fuels. For example, blast furnace gas is a
the HCGE tends to be somewhat longer than gas low heating value fuel that typically is available at
flames associated with burners having multiple spud relatively low supply pressure. Accordingly, a blast
configurations. Consequently, burner capacity and furnace gas burner utilizes a nozzle designed for low
furnace size must be appropriately matched. If ad- gas velocity to promote flame stability and to accom-
equate furnace depth is available, the HCGE can also modate a high gas flow rate with minimal pressure
be used with the low NOx XCL-S and FM-XCL gas or loss. A scroll located at the nozzle inlet imparts swirl
gas/oil burners to achieve lower NOx emissions than to the incoming gas stream thereby improving subse-
can be achieved with hemispherical multi-spuds. quent mixing of fuel and air. Cleanout doors in the
The maximum practical limit for gas input per scroll permit removal of accumulated deposits common
burner is in the order of 200 106 Btu/h (58.6 MWt). to blast furnace gas. Similarly, the fuel element for any
Frequently, physical arrangement of the gas hardware other byproduct gas must be designed for its particu-
is a limiting factor in fuel input capability. With all gas lar characteristics, ignition stability, and appropriate
element designs, the spud tip drilling is determined load range.
by adhering to empirical curves aimed at eliminating Some byproduct gases, such as CO gas, are not of
the potential for burner pulsation. Allowable gas dis- sufficient fuel quality to sustain their own flames. In
charge velocity criteria are established and the result- CO boilers, supplementary gas and/or oil burners are
ing required manifold pressure is determined. Gas used to raise the temperature of the CO gas to the ig-
pressure at the burner at rated capacity is generally nition point and to assure complete burning of the com-
in the range of 8 to 12 psig (55 to 82 kPa) for multiple bustibles in the CO gas stream. Supplementary fuel
spud configurations and as high as 20 psig (137 kPa) burners and CO gas ports are positioned to ensure thor-
for the HCGE. ough mixing and to promote rapid, complete combustion.
In many respects, natural gas is an ideal fuel since
it requires no preparation for rapid and intimate mix-
ing with the combustion air. However, this character- Cold start and low load operation
istic of easy ignition under most operating conditions Cold boiler startup requires firing at low heat in-
has, in some cases, led to operator carelessness and put for long periods of time to avoid expansion diffi-
damaging explosions. culties and possible overheat of superheaters or
To ensure safe operation, gas flames must remain reheaters. Low pressure [200 psig (1.38 MPa gauge)]
anchored to the gas element discharge ports through- boilers without superheaters may need only about an
out the full range of allowable gas pressures and air hour of low load operation. Larger high pressure units,
flow conditions. Ideally, stable ignition should be pos- however, may need four to six hours for startup. Dur-
sible at minimum load with full load air flow through ing startup, combustion efficiency is typically poor,
the burner and at full load with as much as 25% ex- especially with residual oils, due largely to low furnace
cess air. With this latitude in air flow it is not likely and combustion air temperatures.
that ignition can be lost, even momentarily, during Low load operation may also result in poor distri-
upset conditions. bution of air to the burners in a common windbox. Low
air flow and accompanying low windbox to furnace
Byproduct gases pressure differentials may result in significant strati-
Many industrial applications utilize blast furnace fication of air in the windbox and adversely affect com-
gas, coke oven gas, refinery gas, regenerator offgas, bustion performance. Stack effect between the bottom
and top rows of burners may further alter the quan-
tity of air reaching individual burners. At extremely
low loads, firing oil or gas, the fuel piping itself can
also introduce poor distribution and accordingly affect
burner operation. For a given supply pressure, some
burners may have adequate fuel while others do not
receive enough fuel for continuous operation.
The low ignition temperature and clean burning
characteristics of natural gas make it an ideal fuel for
startup and low load operation. However, extreme care
must be taken to avoid a momentary interruption in
the flame. Large quantities of water are generated by
the combustion of gaseous fuels with a high percent-
age of hydrogen. For units equipped with regenera-
tive type air heaters, the air heater should not be
placed in service until the flue gas temperature to the
air heater has reached 400F (204C). This prevents
Fig. 12 Furnace view of hemispherical gas spuds (oil atomizer not condensation of water from the flue gas on the air
shown). heater surface and subsequent transport of this wa-

11-14 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Sprayer Cap (side view) Sprayer Cap (front view)

Flange Spud Pipe Spud Tip

Fig. 13 High-capacity gas element (HCGE).

ter to the burners by the combustion air. Water in the Igniters

combustion air may cause loss of ignition.
Fuel oil is potentially more hazardous than gas for Lighting a burner requires an independent source
startup and low load operation. Although ignition sta- of ignition. The igniters used to provide the necessary
bility is generally not a problem, the low temperature ignition energy range from hand held torches inserted
furnace environment may result in the accumulation temporarily, to direct ignition electrical igniters, to
of soot and carbon particles on air heater and econo- automatically spark ignited oil or gas fired igniters.
mizer surfaces and may also create a visible plume. If Today, the boiler codes require permanently in-
deposits accumulate over an extended period of time stalled igniters in each burner. These are most often
they pose a fire hazard. To reduce the incidence of fires, oil or gas fired designs that are ignited by means of
some operators use sootblowers that blow steam con- high voltage or high energy spark ignition systems.
tinuously on the surfaces of regenerative type air The capacity of modern igniters can reach 10% or more
heaters as they rotate in the flue gas stream. of the main burner. This permits their use in stabiliz-
When oil must be used for startup, the following ing the combustion of difficult to burn fuels or in pro-
firing methods are listed in order of preference: viding support ignition for abnormal main fuel con-
ditions. Their high input capacity may also be used to
1. Use of dual fluid atomizers and light fuel oil, No. warm the furnace prior to starting the main burner sys-
1 or 2, with steam or compressed air as the atom- tem or to synchronize the turbine. Although the igniter
izing medium. This will provide a clean stack and capacity is tailored to meet the specific requirements of
limit the deposit of carbonaceous residue on boiler the burner and flame safety system, a maximum input
back-end surfaces. of approximately 25 106 Btu/h (7.3 MWt) is typical.
2. Use of dual fluid atomizers with steam atomization
and fuel oil no heavier than No. 6, heated as required The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
for reduced viscosity and proper atomization. categorizes igniters according to their input capacity
3. Use of dual fluid atomizers with compressed air as relative to the burner input. Class I igniters gener-
the atomizing medium and fuel oil no heavier than ally provide 10% or more of the main burner heat re-
No. 6, heated as required. lease and may be operated continuously for support
ignition when required under all boiler conditions.
Startup with oil using mechanical atomizers is not Specifically, the Class I igniter location and capacity
recommended due to the inherent lower atomization will provide sufficient ignition energy to raise any
quality. Stationary boilers equipped with mechanical credible combination of burner inputs of both fuel and
atomizers for oil firing at loads between 20 and 100% air above the minimum ignition temperature. Class
are generally started up with natural gas or a burner II igniters generally provide 4 to 10% of the burner
level of dual-fluid startup atomizers. heat release and may be operated continuously for

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-15

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

ignition support under well defined boiler conditions. ignite the burner directly with electrical energy. They
Class III igniters generally provide a heat release less are usually high energy, capacitive discharge, spark
than 4% of the burner and may not be operated con- ignition systems similar to those that ignite oil and gas
tinuously to provide support ignition for the burner. fired igniters, but usually they operate with a higher
Most modern utility boilers employ Class I igniters to energy level. Direct electric ignition can be used on
warm the boiler, provide support for difficult fuels and/ oil burners which burn distillate and residual fuel oils
or poor fuel conditions, and to minimize the complex- having specific characteristics. Direct ignition of gas
ity of the flame detection system. burners is recommended only for burners with a
Gas provides the most reliable and cleanest burn- single gas element. Reliable ignition of gas burners
ing fuel for high capacity igniters. Gas igniters may having multiple gas elements spread around the
be operated with either natural gas or liquefied pe- burner can often be difficult, resulting in potentially haz-
troleum gas (LPG). When operated with LPG, it is ardous conditions, and is not normally recommended.
critical that the LPG supply system provide a reliable, Direct electric ignition spark systems generally pro-
vapor-only flow at the required rate. Oil fired ignit- vide an ignition energy level of at least 8 joules, with
ers may be used with both distillate and residual fuel 10 to 12 joules used in most applications. The small
oils. Light oils are favored as they avoid complexities spark produced by the direct ignition spark rod must
of oil heating/recirculation, which can impair reliabil- be carefully positioned in the fuel stream to ensure
ity. Distillate oil can be used with either air or steam at- rapid ignition of the fuel upon opening of the burner
omization with air being preferred. Residual oil igniters fuel valve. Direct electric ignition spark systems must
require superheated steam for optimum performance. always be retractable.
Gas and oil igniters are available in both fixed and
retractable designs. Retractable igniters are inserted Safety precautions
to their firing position for ignition of the main burner
and then retracted back into the burner when they NFPA 85 is a standard set of operating codes (pro-
are no longer needed. Retracting the igniter suffi- cedures, interlocks, and trips) for the safe and reliable
ciently reduces radiant heat exposure such that cool- operation of gas and oil combustion processes. Recom-
ing air is not required. Fig. 14 is an example of a typi- mendations of this standard along with governing local
cal retractable igniter (B&W CFS gas igniter is shown codes and ordinances are followed in the design of gas
and an oil fired version is also available). and oil burner systems, burner interlock and trip sys-
Fixed igniters are permanently positioned in the tems, and burner sequence control systems.
burner throat at the proper location for ignition of the Five rules of prime importance in safe and reliable
burner. Fig. 15 is an example of a stationary igniter operation of gas and oil fired combustion systems,
(FPS oil igniter is shown and a gas fired version is also whether employing a manual or automatic control
available). A dedicated supply of air is provided to the system, are described below.
FPS igniter to improve combustion performance and to 1. Never allow oil or gas to accumulate anywhere,
cool the igniter when it is out of service. other than in a tank or lines that form part of the
In addition to these fueled igniters, there is a spe- fuel delivery system. The slightest odor of gas must
cial Class III igniter which does not burn fuel. These be cause for alarm. Steps should be taken imme-
diately to ventilate the area thoroughly and locate
the source of the leak.
2. A minimum purge rate air flow not less than 25%
of full load volumetric air flow must be main-
tained during all stages of boiler operation. This
includes pre-purging the setting and lighting of
the igniters and burners until the firing rate air
requirement exceeds the purge rate air flow.
3. A spark producing device or lighted torch must be
in operation before introducing any fuel into the
furnace. The ignition source must be properly
placed with respect to the burner and must con-
tinuously provide a flame or spark of adequate size
until a stable main flame is established.
4. A positive air flow through the burners into the
furnace and up the stack must be maintained at
all times.
5. Adequate fuel pressure for proper burner opera-
tion must be maintained at all times. In the case
of oil firing, fuel pressure and temperature must
be maintained for proper atomization. In dual
fluid atomizer applications, adequate steam or air
pressure must be available at the atomizer.
Equipment requirements, sequence of operation,
Fig. 14 CFS retractable gas igniter with high energy spark probe. interlock systems and alarm systems are equally im-

11-16 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Air Inlet

Combustion/Cooling Air
Regulating Valve
Guide Tube

Spark Rod

Flame Detection

Air Supply

Internal Guide
Oil Seal Air Tube Assembly
Supply Connection

Flame Rod Oil Atomizer Atomizer

Connection Assembly Sprayer Plate PAI Spark Plug Eddy Plate

Fig. 15 FPS oil igniter.

portant, if not more so, when implementing combus- 6. shutoff of fuel in the event of low oil temperature,
tion control techniques to reduce NOx emissions. and
In observance of the recommended rules of opera- 7. shutoff of fuel in gas fired units in the event of
tion, an automatic control system should include the excessive fuel gas pressure.
Any of the commonly used fuels can be safely
1. purge interlocks requiring a specified minimum air burned when using the proper equipment and oper-
flow for a specific time period to purge the setting ating skill. Hazards are introduced when, through
before the fuel trip valve can be opened, carelessness or mis-operation of equipment, the fuel
2. flame detectors on each burner, connected to an is no longer burned in a safe manner. While a mal-
alarm and interlocked to shut off the burner fuel function should be corrected promptly, panic must be
valve upon loss of flame, avoided. Investigation of explosions of boiler furnaces
3. closed position limit switches for burner shutoff equipped with good recording apparatus reveal that
valves, requiring that individual burner shutoff conditions leading to the explosion had, in most cases,
valves be closed to permit opening the fuel trip valve, existed for a considerable period of time. Sufficient time
4. shutoff of fuel on failure of the forced or induced was available for someone to have taken unhurried
draft fan, corrective action before the accident. The notion that
5. shutoff of fuel in the event of low fuel pressure malfunctions of safety equipment cause frequent, un-
(and low steam or air pressure to oil atomizers), necessary unit trips is not consistent with the facts.

FPS is a trademark of Fossil Power Systems, Inc.

Orimulsion is a trademark of Bitumenes Orinoco, S.A.

Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization 11-17

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Fig. 1 Deepwater oil and gas fields require new floating technology facilities like this Spar being installed in the Gulf of Mexico.

11-18 Steam 41 / Oil and Gas Utilization