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See the article in Power Engineering here!
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Upgrading or replacing a boiler system presents one of the most daunting and expensive challenges a large facility can undertake. When the time comes—whether the current system is outdated and inefficient or it fails outright—facility management must understand the process in order to set facility management goals and make the right decisions to fulfill their energy and efficiency needs. More than 1,200 Veterans Administration medical centers and outpatient sites across the country are undertaking system overhauls like this.

Driven primarily by environmental concerns, the VA has undertaken boiler system upgrades in all their facilities. Most of the facilities will need to update their equipment, but some will require a full-system replacement. With more than a thousand facilities in need of evaluation, it’s a huge undertaking—but administrators believe that the long-term savings will make the effort worthwhile.

Why make the change now?

One of the driving factors in getting this change implemented right away is regulatory. California, Texas, and New Jersey have implemented air quality standards that will not be met by older boiler systems. They must be upgraded or replaced.

These old systems often used technology that sacrificed environmental safety in favor of cost savings. Some systems incorporated metal mesh burners, which utilized filters that clog easily. The gradual clogging of air filters leads to less excess air, which leads to higher NOx emissions. NOx emissions are a combination of nitric oxide (NO) and oxygen. Nitric oxide is the result of fuel combustion and alone is not considered hazardous; however, combined with oxygen it is the source of fog, acid rain, and ground level ozone, which has been linked to myriad health issues. And while some other systems might have utilized technology to reduce overall NOx, these systems had increased electricity costs.

A second reason for the VA system upgrade, therefore, is to address these cost concerns. Today’s upgrades do not require air filters, which used to add to operation costs. Upgraded systems also offer quick-change, dual-fuel capabilities, switching between gas and oil firing in less than three minutes. This saves on service costs, since multiple people are no longer needed to make the changeover. The greatest cost reduction, however, is in the demand for electricity. There is a reduction of up to 60 percent in electric consumption.

One way to realize a cost savings is by employing a system that allows one to adjust the output according to the demand. This adjustment is achieved via what is called the unit’s “boiler turndown ratio,” which is the ratio of the maximum heat output to the minimum heat output at which the boiler will operate both efficiently and controllably. As the desired temperature/pressure point is reached, the heat source is turned down, and if the temperature/pressure falls, the heat is turned up. In applications like the VA centers, which require boilers to operate at a low proportion of their maximum output, a high turndown ratio is desired, and that can be achieved with modern upgrades. Traditional burners using fiber metal mesh provide a 3:1 turndown; however, with recent advancements in the field, there are now systems that can provide a 9:1 turndown or higher depending on NOx requirement. These systems can achieve ultra-low NOx emissions without the use of FGR (flue gas recirculation).

In addition to the cost savings realized through a 9:1 turndown, there is also the reduction in required maintenance. Not only are multiple people no longer needed for a dual-fuel changeover, but operating and monitoring the systems are also simplified. Older systems require constant maintenance to ensure fuel efficiency and emission control. For example, many older systems include jackshaft linkage. Due to the complexity of these systems, they require constant fine-tuning and maintenance by highly skilled operators. Maintenance of an upgraded or new system is far less complex.

Newer monitoring equipment also means fewer people are needed for hands-on examination of the system. Typically, with an older system, there was a boiler in each building—and that meant someone needed to be on location to monitor those systems. The ability to house the entire system in one location, or to upgrade the system to monitor from one location, results in lower maintenance costs.

Upgrade or replace? A case study

Determining whether to upgrade or replace a system depends on two things: the age of the existing boiler(s) and the application for the new system. Generally, systems that have been in service for 25 to 30 years would require replacement instead of an upgrade. This was the case for the V.A. Erie Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. Their system had been in place for three decades and required complete replacement. In order to make the most impact with this important project, they built an entirely new boiler plant from the ground up.

The engineering team at the VA determined that existing system had met its lifespan, and they wanted to replace with latest technology. Any short-term replacement would have simply been a Band-Aid. They realized, however, that a project of this magnitude would take time to do properly. The engineering team at the VA chose Greenland Enterprises, Inc. to handle the entire project based on their central plant expertise and track-record at other healthcare facilities.

Based on the campus steam load, they determined that the replacement equipment would consist of two 400-horsepower boilers and one 200-horsepower boiler. Installation of the new boiler system took four months. From the ground up (including the new construction), the work on the project took 14 months to complete.

This new plant will provide at least a 60 percent reduction in electricity consumption, which will be accomplished using a variable frequency drive. This technology can run with fan speed at a lower rate. For example, changing the power from 60hz to 30hz speed can cut the horsepower by eight times. Therefore, a 400-horsepower system would be cut to 60-horsepower. According to Steve Seckler, Vice President of Operations at Greenland Enterprises, “Most systems can go from 60hz to 40hz easily. We chose a system that can efficiently go all the way from 60hz to 15hz for additional savings.”

Fuel reduction provides cost savings over the life of the new system. Newer boiler systems can offer a savings of two to five percent. This means that one 400-horsepower boiler with a fuel cost of $500,000 annually can save between $10,000 and $25,000 a year. This new Erie plant, with its two 400-horsepower boilers and one 200-horsepower boiler, will save the hospital between $25,000 and $62,500 in fuel costs annually.

Is it time for an upgrade at your facility?

A boiler upgrade project like the one undertaken at the VA Erie Medical Center is clearly something that takes significant time and money to complete. But in the end, management determined that the expense and effort will pay off in the long run. Could it be time for you to look at a similar project for your facility? Here are some points to consider when making your decision.

Sustainability

In large facilities, sustainability can be neglected when considering boiler systems. Facilities like hospitals often rely on older boilers and choose the “Band-Aid” approach of patching and maintaining them out of necessity. This method is not sustainable. Upgrading to a new boiler is the best option for long-term, sustainable improvement.

Sustainability also refers to the environmental impact of a system. With ever-changing state requirements, it is important to choose a system with enough flexibility to face these new demands as well as future ones.

Fuel-efficiency

To sufficiently meet the heating and energy load demands of healthcare facilities, old boilers burn an inordinate amount of fuel. New boilers bring added efficiency and substantial fuel savings. There is also much being done in the realm of alternative fuels for boiler systems. Bio-fuels and liquid wood are two segments of the alternative fuel market that are making great strides.

Operations and Maintenance

New boilers are streamlined to operate more smoothly and efficiently than old boilers, which can be challenging to operate and maintain. The older boilers often take much longer to heat up, and they are often kept running to meet heating needs. New boilers are designed to heat up quickly and can be adjusted to handle variable loads to ensure less energy consumption.

When considering an upgrade or replacement, no matter what the reason may be, all factors of the operation need to be addressed in preparation for a system shut-down. A project of this magnitude, from the initial bid process to completion, will require a minimum of several months (for an upgrade) up to a year or more (for a complete boiler replacement). The impact of this change, and thus the importance of the decisions made during the process, are why so many V.A. hospitals and medical centers are carefully reviewing their future energy options.

About the author: Dan Wallace is Vice President of Research & Development at Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation, an engineering-based manufacturer of products for commercial, institutional, industrial and nuclear power facilities.

 

Preferred Utilities still has equipment from 30+ years ago functioning in New York City housing establishments. Lately though, We have taken on retrofitting projects that are focused on a sustainable future for NYC.

This includes updated burners and controls, like the API burner and FlexFit Linkageless Controller, as well as Renewable Fuel options for eliminating carbon emissions, meeting new NYC regulations, and leaving room to improve if more stringent regulations come along.

The article 1,713 Mammoth Boilers, and Winter Weeks Away” discusses the challenges facing the Housing Authority, and pictures Preferred controls!

As winter approaches, the city is racing to ready boilers in the nation’s largest public housing system, where widespread heat outages have repeatedly left many of its 400,000 low-income residents shivering in their homes. Many of the boilers are old; some were built in the 1950s. With temperatures dropping, the fragile, antiquated heating network imperils a large portion of public housing residents: children, older residents and people with health conditions.

Read more here!

 

Linkageless control technology makes boiler rooms more efficient and easier to operate 

In order to cut boiler room costs and solve end-user headaches, many boiler professionals are making the move to “linkageless” control systems. A linkageless system uses a burner with individual servos to control fuel and air ratios, and this in turn provides more savings to the end user. Some of the biggest benefits of linkageless systems include:

1)      Higher efficiency: O2 levels may fluctuate but will always return to position of highest fuel and electrical efficiency. In addition, turndown is often improved resulting in less cycling of the burner.

2)      Monitoring and communication: The system communicates via Modbus and reports on all functions. The main module monitors the positions of all fuel- and air-control devices. Any positioning error shuts the burner down safely.

3)      Automatic adjustments for ambient air and fuel changes: Linkage systems can cause major problems for technicians. Once all the linkage is set, the ambient air density may change, throwing the system off. In addition, instead of system readjustment every time there is a fuel switch, the positions of all servos are programmed and independent. This means that the system adjusts automatically to fuel/air ratio changes as well as fuel changes.

The new FlexFit system is an innovation in linkageless technology now being offered by Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation. The FlexFit solution offers a less costly, less time-consuming retrofit to modern linkageless controls in the boiler room. Leveraging the industry-leading BMU (Burner Mate Universal) platform, the FlexFit can be used in new installations or be easily retrofitted into existing jackshaft control panels that use supported common flame safe guards. This solution is half the price of the BMU (with the same benefits), and a trained technical can install the FlexFit in one day.

Fuel savings are accomplished with parallel positioning combustion control with optional oxygen trim. Electricity savings are provided by the ability to control a Variable Speed Drive for the FD Fan. In addition to flame safeguard and combustion control, the FlexFit also includes optional draft control.

The FlexFit communicates to Building Automation Systems by Modbus or optional Ethernet. And because it is microprocessor-based and pre-engineered, the FlexFit is an economical alternative to more expensive PLC-based boiler controllers. The parts are in stock for immediate delivery and require no programming.

This is a control solution that delivers benefits for all members of your team. Owners will see savings through electrical and fuel efficiency, and they’ll have tighter control of boiler room functions. Managers will be able to get ahead of emergencies before they happen, and technicians will enjoy easy installation, in-and-out maintenance, and local support.

With a flexible design that is more affordable, more accessible, and more accurate, FlexFit is the retrofit solution you’ve been waiting for.

About Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation:

Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation is an engineering-based manufacturer of products for commercial, institutional, industrial and nuclear power facilities. Our products include fuel oil handling systems and components, boiler instrumentation and controllers, high quality burners, and nuclear power plant outage reduction tools and component parts. Continuous research and development are applied to our existing products and help us to lead the industry with new and innovative power plant solutions. Our manufacturing, engineering, and administrative headquarters is located in Danbury, Connecticut, and regional sales and service offices are located throughout the United States.

 

Pressure atomization depends on the oil pressure inside the nozzle tip to spray a fine mist of oil, very similar to a Windex spray bottle. The micronized oil droplets are flung into the burner head, where they are thoroughly mixed with the combustion air and ignited. As mentioned above, the pressure at the oil nozzle is the key factor in the atomization process; therefore, your oil pump and pressure regulator are the key components in this system. The pump needs to be able to meet the gallons per hour (gph) requirement for the burner/boiler to meet their load capacity. The pressure regulator is set in accordance to the firing rate which is normally between 100-300 (psi). The turndown ratio for a pressure atomizing burner is normally only 3:1 or 4:1.

However, Preferred has just designed and shipped our first high turndown, 6:1 guaranteed, pressure atomized API-AF burners.

These API-AF burners are UL listed for No. 2 oil firing, utilizing pressure atomization. We demonstrated a turndown of 8:1 on pressure atomized oil firing to the UL inspector, extending the normal turndown ratio which is usually only 3:1 or 4:1

 

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!

Background: In the past, using anti siphon valves between the day tank and a generator has been discouraged due to the low vacuum capability of generator pumps. A generator fuel oil pump may only be able to pull 5 in. Hg. In addition, there is a filter installed between the day tank and the generator pump that takes a 2-3” Hg pressure drop. This means that only 2” Hg could be available to open an anti-siphon valve, which poses a problem for most designs. Engineers have addressed the need to prevent siphoning from a day tank by installing a solenoid valve that opens when the generator pump turns on. However, this solenoid needs to be wired and is dependent on the controls functioning properly.

Solution: Now, Preferred has a better solution! We now have an anti-siphon valve that will open with only 2” Hg of suction available, and it is designed for application between the day tank and the generator pump. In addition, this Low Vacuum Anti Siphon Valve is UL Listed. For diesel handling components, it is important to ensure the valves one is purchasing are listed by a an agency such as UL as it ensures compliance to a standard and that the product has been independently evaluated. This Low Vacuum Anti Siphon Valve is available in ½” up to 2” NPT.

 

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. According to a study by the University of Maryland, there is a hacking attempt every 39 seconds. And, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150 million.

We live in a connected world. These connections allow for a pace of commerce and communication previously unimaginable.

As everything becomes more connected, threats to the cyber security of commercial facilities and industrial equipment grow every day.

Traditionally, when working with operationally sensitive equipment such as HMI/SCADA Systems, the established practice has been to “Air-Gap” your equipment and prevent any access from the outside world. Globalization, regulations, & advanced data analysis techniques have made this practice obsolete and costly to your bottom line. Plants that choose to be “Air-Gapped” lose out on new innovations that allow for increased oversight and efficiency optimization to plant systems.

Now, you can connect to your facility and equipment from anywhere without compromising the security of your operations.

The Preferred Cloud Remote Monitoring Platform offers three levels of encrypted, secure, and continuous analytics on your equipment, while recommending cost saving and preventative maintenance options to reduce downtime and emergency service.

 

Wondering how to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2025 or 80% by 2050?

If you’re thinking you need to completely retrofit your entire boiler room, you’re wrong. There’s more than one way to meet your goals AND stay within your budget.

Preferred’s FlexFit Controller Retrofit Package, is the easiest, least expensive, most efficient way to go linkageless. This controller adds O2 trim, draft control, VFD and valve-proving capabilities as a standard and helps you meet your emission reduction goals too!

See the NYSERDA funded study by Steven Winters Associates that recommends linkageless retrofits!

Bring some Combustion Joy home for your operators, custodians, and superintendents this Fall.

 

by Joe Wallace

Oxygen trim (O2 Trim) is a system that constantly monitors your boiler’s combustion. Unlike your car, your boiler has the ability to run properly without it, so what are the upsides to it? This system can adjust your air fuel ratio based on what it’s supposed to be and triggers alarms or lockouts should the combustion deviate from proper levels. It also helps end users save on operational and maintenance costs.

Safety:

We have all seen slipping couplings, broken shafts, blocked intakes or other things that have created improper combustion and unsafe conditions. Oxygen trim can prevent those situations from turning into something far worse. When a burner is tuned with O2 Trim, an oxygen level is assigned to each curve point and is stored with that point as a safe oxygen level. While the oxygen sensor continually monitors your burner’s combustion, it can detect any “off-curve” oxygen readings during combustion and adjust for them within reason. Should the oxygen level have a large deviation from setpoint, the control system will alarm and/or shut down the burner before something bad happens. Another safety function of O2 trim is if a very high CO condition is present, the CO will also make the O2 cell read a lower oxygen level and alarm/lockout the boiler.

Maintenance Savings:

Preventative maintenance should always be done in your boiler room including boiler tuning, but O2 trim may help save you some money on these visits. Since O2 trim constantly monitors your burner’s emissions and makes small adjustments to ensure proper and safe combustion, some areas have only required tuning bi-annually or less. Your system still needs to be set up by a professional and is certainly not a replacement for your service company, but is a great way to ensure your boiler is running properly between their visits. Due to this continually monitoring, the burner is much less likely to be damaged during operation. Improper combustion can lead to very expensive repairs to your system such as burner component replacement due to being burned up, refractory repairs do to instability and impingement, or a catastrophic boiler explosion. Having oxygen trim drastically decreases the risk of these events for a small fraction of the cost.

Operational Savings:

While one can tune a boiler for the conditions that exist while they are on site, what happens when the conditions change? The temperature in your boiler room, the fuel quality, hysteresis of control valves or dampers, etc. can cause a variation in your combustion. Often a boiler is tuned with a safety factor to accommodate for these variations which leaves some efficiency on the table. With O2 trim, you don’t have to accommodate for these future variations, therefore allowing you to run your boiler more efficiently. Your return on investment is contingent on your fuel usage and there are several utilities incentivizing the installation of this equipment with rebates as it has been proven to reduce fuel usage.

Oxygen trim is best coupled with a linkageless control strategy. If you have a Preferred Utilities FlexFit or BurnerMate Universal system already installed, oxygen trim is easily added. The return on investment is dependent on your usage and incentive programs in your area and can often pay for itself within a single heating season.

Ask us how you can improve your boiler efficiency and start saving today.

 

To meet New York City emissions regulations and secure a sustainable future for their plant, the 4th largest high pressure steam plant in NYC chose Preferred for its #6 oil to gas and #2 oil conversion.

This plant has a rich history, with four (4) watertube boilers stamped 1939, traditionally burning #6 oil except during World War II when they burned coal because oil was going to the war effort.

Pictured Below: Old panel on the left, new panel on the right- This is one of five new panels. We accommodated the customer with the same look of the old panel, but with state-of-the-art technology.

With (4) watertube boilers and (4) 60,000 gallon, single wall tanks buried 15 feet underground, they had some work to do in order to convert from #6 oil to gas and #2 oil by 1/1/2020, when NYC enacts fines for facilities not in compliance with emissions regulations.

Preferred met the challenge with new oil guns/tips, a complete and new fuel oil system, Allen Bradley PLC combustion controls to replace their old Bailey single-loop controllers, and EPA, DEC, DEP compliant tank gauging system for the single wall, buried tanks.

Spreading Combustion Joy through compliance and innovation!

 

Preferred’s R&D department made such significant improvements to the JC-30D opacity monitor, we re-branded it the JC-30D-EZ. The new opacity monitor is EZ to install, EZ to setup, and EZ to calibrate.

What’s New?

  • With the new LED light source, there is nothing to adjust on the light source side of the opacity monitor. So the adjustable mount has been replaced with a rigid pipe mount.
  • Because the new detector lens is directional, the new receptor can’t see ambient light coming in from severe angles, so the light shields are not required anymore.
  • The electronics in the light source have been improved to allow calibration from the display. The DIP switches, pushbutton, and potentiometer are gone, so calibration can be initiated from the display on the ground and there is no need to go up on the stack anymore.

The JC-30D-EZ can be set up to auto-calibrate every time the burner shuts down to compensate for increasing soot on the source and detector lenses. This means lenses can go up to nine times longer between cleanings!

Dirty lenses can cause high stack opacity shutdowns on previous, and competing opacity monitors. The JC-30D-EZ’s ability to auto-calibrate itself to adjust for dirty lenses makes a high opacity shutdown much less likely.

Congratulations to the R&D department for making the JC-30D-EZ best opacity monitor on the market. We especially want to share the good news with New York City, Boston, and elsewhere where opacity monitors are required by code. The new JC-30D-EZ can be retrofitted to older JC-30 opacity monitors, and it can replace existing Smoke Watchman units.