Advances in technology have significantly simplified the task of monitoring the emission values in boilers and burners in industries. For instance, devices that gather data from emissions in real time are proving effective, helping service engineers to achieve legal emissions levels, reduced fuel consumption and considerable cost savings.
For organisations in industries such as mining, oil, gas and petrochemicals, amongst others, which use boilers and burners to produce thermal energy with fossil fuels limiting the level of emissions is both a business and a legal imperative. Thus, main objective is to achieve optimum combustion in the boiler’s chamber to produce sufficient thermal power with lower emissions. This is an area where the service engineer plays the pivotal role of ensuring that identified parameters central to optimal fuel combustion are applied. And it is critical that emissions value (data) is gathered.
It must be emphasised that not just data is needed, but accurate data. As you would expect, there are always questions about the reliability of the techniques or technology used to gather data for such a critical process. The main challenge is: Can the data give them confidence that they are making right decisions?
Without doubt, there is no other alternative than using proven tools to monitor emission values. Thanks to advances in technology, industries have tools which they can use which can perform this task effectively.
Value of reliable emissions data
Perhaps to appreciate the relevance of using reliable tools it is important examine what a service engineer can do with reliable emission values.
In this duty, the service engineer compares the emission values of the boiler and burner during commissioning and maintenance (operational) phases and the variations noticed. Through this approach, the effectiveness of the boiler can be assessed, which can used to determine what course of action to be taken.
Typically, a good level of emissions would indicate good combustion, which, automatically, translates to reduced fuel consumption and considerable cost savings. On the contrary, high level of emissions levels would contain more carbon monoxide, soot and unburned fuels.
Clearly, there is a lot at stake.
The challenge is what to do in the event the emissions levels are higher than expected. In order to address this problem, it is important to know the basic principles of the combustion process and to understand the influence of individual measurement and control parameters. In this way, accordingly, it would be able to optimise the efficiency of the boiler system and adjust the emissions to the requisite legal requirements.
More often than not, one of the common problems is getting the air-to-fuel ratio right. Optimum air supply is crucial for a wide adjustment range, stable combustion, optimum fuel utilisation and the lowest possible emissions values. To achieve optimum air supply, the fan output, blower and air ducts must be coordinated and their function checked regularly.
It must be clarified that boiler manufacturers have guidelines or recommendations on how the fuel-air mixture can best be set. Typically, burners are manufactured with different features, mainly: some can control the quantity of the air which is taken into the boiler; others the quantity of the fuel, yet others enable both of these parameters to be set.
The right tools
At the end of the day, the burden is on the service engineer (indeed the organisation) to utilise the right tools to gather data that allows for the determination of a correct fuel-air ratio for a cost-effective and standard-compliant operation. Conveniently, advances in technology have significantly simplified the task of monitoring the emission values. For instance, devices that gather data from emissions in real time are proving effective. For instance, should an anomaly be identified, in this context a huge variation between the commissioned and the operational values, action is taken to ensure optimal performance of boiler and burner. Furthermore, interestingly, the real time data can be used to timeously carry out predictive maintenance to reduce boiler downtime and increase uptime.