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Making the Natural Gas Boiler Switch

boilerMaking modification to boiler burners to allow the use of natural gas often makes sense in the long term in terms of costs and emissions savings, Pollution Engineering reports.

Many commercial boiler operators have made such a switch, but such changes affect temperatures, velocities and heat absorption in the equipment.

As such, the first step when weighing a conversion to natural gas needs to be a comprehensive assessment of the impact that any changes will have on boiler performance — both gas- and steam-side — and emissions.

For example, natural gas flames produces less radiational energy when compared with oil, coal and many other fuels. To compensate it may be necessary to make changes to the boiler tube to maintain steam levels.

In June, Marc Karell, the owner of Climate Change & Environmental Services, wrote a column for Environmental Leader’s sister web site Energy Manager Today spelling out the pros and cons of a fuel switch.

Despite cost, emissions and risk reduction benefits, Karell pointed out that making such a switch can be far from straight forward. Issues such as availability and equipment compatibility can both be factors, he says.

Businesses should also look into other measures that will reduce short-term fuel burning needs, such as upgrading insulation, windows, your roof, and other processes.

Clean Air Act standards for industrial boilers and incinerators, which were released in 2012, apply to less than 1 percent of those machines, according to the EPA.

The standards cover only the highest emitting boilers and incinerators, typically operating at refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities. The 99 percent of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the US either aren’t covered by the rules because they burn clean natural gas at area source facilities and emit little pollution, or can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups, according to the EPA.

Picture Credit: Gas steel boiler established in modern independent boiler-house via Shutterstock.

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