Increasing Boiler Efficiency with Economizers and Air Preheaters

economizers air preheaters

Boiler efficiency is critical for coal and biomass plants. Every incremental efficiency improvement leads to improvements to  your bottom line. Even one point of efficiency increase can make a big difference, especially in a system that is, by nature, inefficient compared to other fuel sources.

Coal and biomass boiler systems utilize a proven combination of economizers and industrial air preheaters to optimize efficiency. These two systems work together to improve boiler efficiency by approximately 20 percent. They must work together because an economizer by itself will only provide efficiency increases in the single-digit range.

This article will discuss the two components and how they help keep the efficiency level high in a coal or biomass boiler system.

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Economizers in Boiler Systems

An economizer recovers wasted heat from a boiler system. Economizers are heat exchange components used to raise fluid temperatures to their boiling point without exceeding it. Economizers heat the fluid by taking heat from flue gas from the stack and directing it to the water system.

A well-designed, professionally-installed economizer can potentially lower fuel costs by as much as 5-10 percent, which is significant for most operators.

Air Preheaters

An industrial air preheater is another heat exchange device that heats air used in boiler combustion through a combination of steam, water, flue gas, or thermal oil. A boiler’s combustion process is more efficient if the boiler has to work less to produce the same amount of energy. For every degree that the incoming air is heated, less energy is required from the boiler.

In other words, an industrial air preheater saves energy by doing some of the heavy lifting done by the boiler to raise the incoming fluid to the appropriate temperature.

There are two types of air preheaters: recuperative and regenerative. Recuperative air preheaters are generally used in small to medium-size boilers. Regenerative air preheaters are usually reserved for high-capacity boilers (producing 600 tons per hour of steam or higher).

Use an Economizer and an Air Heater For Maximum Efficiency

Used independently, both economizers and air preheaters increase boiler efficiency, but the best results are achieved when they are used together. To compete with natural gas, solar, wind, and other forms of energy production, coal and biomass boilers must maximize efficiency. A custom-designed industrial air preheater and economizer combo can go a long way toward accomplishing this goal for modern-day power plants.ProcessBarron designs, manufactures, and installs industrial air preheaters and economizers for boiler systems. Contact us here to learn more!