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-Luke Amory, Danbury, CT

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, & the advent of AI 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. Thankfully there are options for advantageous plant engineers that want to access facilities remotely without compromising on security.

The simplest implementation of plant connectivity is accomplished by adding an Application-Aware Firewall. This device is often marketed under the moniker “Security Appliance” “SCADA Fuse” or “Secure Router”. A device such as this is would be used in a scenario where the plant network is expanded to access portions of the corporate LAN. The Firewall would sit between the corporate side and the plant side to monitor ingress and egress traffic and prevent unwanted communications by enforcing rules defined by the administrator. The flaw with this implementation is that by extending plant communications protocols outside of their normal bounds your plant becomes exposed to inherent vulnerabilities in these industrial communications protocols. Most industrial protocols were developed to be exclusively implemented in these “Air-Gapped” networks and therefore were optimized for ease of implementation and access. Lacking modern features such as encryption and mutual authentication, traffic from these protocols can be modified in transit or spoofed entirely. This creates a scenario where a party with malicious intent or “Bad Actor” on the corporate side of the network can potentially infiltrate the plant side of the network.

Alternatively, a more conservative solution to this problem is to implement what is called a protocol conversion gateway. This gateway, like a firewall, sits between the plant network and the corporate network, translating communications from each side with mappings configured by the administrator. This device allows the conversion of insecure plant protocols to be converted to more secure protocols such as BACnet or OPC-UA without exposing unsecured plant equipment to the corporate network. Unfortunately, the level of security provided by implementing a device such as this can very widely. Unless explicit specifications for a secure implementation is provided, the lowest bidder will not provide these security measures by default and forgoes these features in favor of simplicity of maintenance and configuration.

With the Preferred Cloud Platform, we have approached this problem from a different direction. The integrity of our and our customers’ networks is paramount and therefore we have designed a platform to facilitate that. From the beginning we have designed our systems to have security in mind at every step. So that even if there is a catastrophic failure in one part of our infrastructure the attacker has no means by which to proliferate their attack to our customers. By collecting data locally with our cloud gateway and ingesting data into our isolated and secured infrastructure we can provide all the benefits of a connected plant without creating an attack vector from your corporate network or burdening your team with complicated security configurations. Preferred also leverages this connectivity to supply operations teams with tools that enable you to be more aware of problems with your equipment and to assist you in optimizing your plants for peak efficiency.

View the Preferred Cloud Platform here!

 

We have reason to celebrate! Preferred successfully completed the UL testing of our 1200 HP Ultra-Low NOx Ranger burner at Johnston Boiler. We now have UL listing on the following:
API-AF : 50 HP through 600 HP
API-RF: 100 HP through 1200 HP Ranger-RF: 100 HP through 1200 HP
We also have ULB listings on the entire range of: API-AF, API-RF, and Ranger-RF.

UL LIsting is required to sell burners into New York City and to put together a UL listed boiler package.

 

A New York City Public School central heating plant and their consulting engineer made the decision to install 3 new low emissions burners with state of the art combustion control systems to meet Local Law 87 initiatives.

Compliant with Local Law 87, NO FIBER METAL MESH HEADS OR AIR FILTERS REQUIRED.

For sub 35 PPM NOx, low O2 performance without FGR and ability to go to sub 9 PPM NOx with FGR  all without fiber metal mesh heads or air filters.

If dual fuel capabilities are added they can have a sub 5-minute change over from natural gas to oil firing. Their new controls packages includes: BurnerMate Universal O2 Trim, Draft Indication & Control, Fuel Air Ratio Control, Flu Gas Temperature indication and alarm, Smoke Opacity, Flame Safeguard control, with VFDs.

These burners will reduce electricity consumption by 60% or more and allow for 8:1 turn down on oil firing. O2 ranges from sub 1.5% at 50-100% firing rate, to sub 3.5% 10-40% firing rate. The burners and controls package are made by skilled American tradesmen in our Danbury, CT, UL 508 / IBEW shop, and started up by our combustion field engineers.

Made in the U.S.A. for a Greener, more Sustainable and Fuel Efficient future for NYC.

 

Made in the U.S.A., this project demonstrated a a sustainable, safe reclamation of waste hydrogen with high efficiency and carbon foot print reduction.

An American based chemical manufacturer decided to make use of their waste hydrogen which significantly reduced their use of fossil fuel for their process steam requirements. But the customer needed the right company to deliver a controls, burner, boiler, fuel handling, blending, and a balance of plant integrated combustion package. They came to Preferred Utilities Manufacturing for a total combustion design solution which included a custom (IBEW / UL 508) PLC flame safe guard system with integrated combustion control, fuel ratio control, boiler water control and balance of plant interface. A 10″ touch screen operator interface with plant wide SCADA communications provides easy process / efficency monitoring and trouble shooting operations.

For single source responsibility, significant energy savings, and unsurpassed combustion engineering expertise, choose Preferred.

 
  1. NOx in Heating oil is significantly reduced: heating oil can contain less than 15 parts per million of sulfer. That is a 200-fold decrease in sulfer since 2014.
  2. Heating oil is a partially renewable fuel: more and more heating oils contain 2% – 5% plant derived biofuel, and likely to increase over time. Biofuel is a renewable energy source which also helps heating oil burn more completely while also helping your oil tank stay clean and free of sediment.
  3. Heating oil is safer than natural gas: on Sept. 13, 2018, old natural gas lines ruptured in an area of north of Boston, Mass, causing a series of explosions and fires damaging 40 homes and causing the death of a teenage boy. Gas service to more than 8000 homes was shut off, and some homes were without central heating more than a month later. This not an isolated incident – there are an estimated 23-26 gas explosions with 5-8 fatalities that happen across the country every year. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-massachusetts-explosions-factbox/factbox-gas-distribution-line-related-accidents-in-the-united-states-idUSKCN1LU05A)
 

Our SECOND burner and controls retrofit for Bates College on one of their existing 700 HP Cleaver-Brooks™ boilers so they can burn ENSYN Renewable Fuel Oil (100% renewable fuel source derived from trees) as their primary heating source! With our help, Bates is on the verge of reaching their 2020 emissions and carbon reduction milestones while increasing combustion efficiency and reducing electric consumption.

Read the full story here.

 

 

Combined Heat and Power or CHP refers to using the waste heat in the exhaust of a turbine or engine to make steam or hot water. Preferred is getting active in CHP projects with Williams & Davis boilers of Dallas, TX. Their specially designed boilers can accept the exhaust from a diesel generator to make steam or hot water. For this project, Preferred supplied an API-AF burner to fire the boiler to full steam capacity when the engine isn’t running or isn’t producing enough waste heat to meet the plant’s thermal demand.

CHP projects make sense anywhere electricity is very expensive, fuel is cheap, and customers have a relatively constant demand for steam or hot water. Instead of purchasing electricity off the grid, a plant or building owner can purchase a natural gas- or diesel-fired generator, and use the hot exhaust to make steam or hot water for building heating. The Preferred burner allows the steam or hot water production to be independent of building electrical load.

Electric utilities actually encourage this practice because when customers provide their own electricity, they are peak shaving for the utility. During peak electricity usage periods, like hot Texas afternoons in August, the utilities are running all of their generating plants to meet demand, including their oldest, least efficient plants. The utilities lose money selling electricity from their oldest plants, so they incentivize customers to make their own electricity during these periods in the hopes the utility won’t have to fire up their oldest generating plants. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, people living in buildings with back-up power and heating became very popular for friends to come by, charge up their devices, take a hot shower, and have a hot meal.

CHP covers a lot of different ways to provide both electricity and steam or hot water to a facility. This approach with Preferred and Williams & Davis is geared towards customers that have steam or hot water loads between 200 HP and 1,000 HP, and need the flexibility to fire the boiler at any load regardless of generator load. If you have customers that may be interested in this CHP approach, contact David Eoff for more details.

 
 
As the city’s apartment complex managers know all too well, New York City’s electricity rates are some of the highest in the country. Surprisingly, one of the biggest sources of energy usage for these structures is often the building’s boiler, which runs nearly continuously through the long, cold winter.

 

That is why it’s not a bad idea to start thinking of upgrading to a boiler that will give off fewer emissions, in the middle of the summer.

The Big Apple also has some of the worst smog in the country. Though it has improved since peak levels in the mid-20th century as a result of national restrictions on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, New York City does not currently regulate NOx emissions at the local level. This is likely to change. Responding to public pressures for clean air, states and municipalities across the country have brought the locally allowable NOx emissions far below federal standards, often focusing on large boiler emissions. Most of California, for instance, holds boiler emissions to a strict nine parts per million NOx limit. Other states have enacted more moderate standards of 20 to 30 parts per million. At some point, this trend will reach New York, and building owners who take the long view are already planning for it.

Solving these two problems—reducing the electricity cost of boilers and bringing down their emissions—are seemingly at odds. Ultra-low NOx emissions burners use more power because they burn fuel at lower temperatures over a longer period of time. However, with recent advancements in boiler technology, there are a couple of ways that New York building owners can strike a balance between saving on electricity in the short term and future proofing against emissions regulations likely to be enacted in the future.

First would be combustion control.

Whether you’re burning oil or natural gas, fuel must be delivered to the burner along with air (oxygen) at specific ratios, which account for variables, such as humidity and temperature. Traditionally, this is accomplished manually using a jackshaft linkage to set the ratio. These systems are inherently difficult to keep configured correctly because bolts connecting the linkage loosen over time, allowing incorrect amounts of fuel or air to be delivered to the burner, which has a surprisingly large negative impact on efficiency.

The alternative to jackshaft linkages (which still account for the majority of burners in New York City) is a more modern parallel positioning system in which the fuel and air valves are monitored and adjusted digitally. There is no slippage in these systems, and configuration settings can be dialed in precisely on a computer. Simply by maintaining optimal fuel and oxygen proportions, the system reduces both emissions and electricity costs. The only downside is the installation, which can run as much as $20,000 due to custom design and wiring. Despite the long-term benefits, this upgrade can be hard to fit into the tight budgets of many New York City apartment buildings.

In just the last few years, new parallel positioning systems that are “plug and play” drop-in replacements for older jackshaft systems have become available. This reduces installation costs to as low as $5,000, which in most cases pays for itself in the first year of reduced electricity costs. Stapleton Houses, one of the largest housing developments on Staten Island, found that its heating system, some of which dated back to the complex’s construction in 1960, had grown quite inefficient in its electrical and natural gas use. The New York City Housing Authority brought in a parallel positioning system and reduced electrical usage of its boiler by 75 percent.

Second would be choosing between using less power and making fewer emissions.

For some time now, ultra-low NOx burners that meet the strictest standards have been available. For facilities with older burners, switching to a modern ultra-low NOx burner may reduce electricity use simply because older burners are so inefficient. However, a burner with moderate NOx emissions would be even more fuel efficient and potentially use even less electricity.

This creates a dilemma: should one choose the future-proofing of an ultra-low NOx burner or the reduced electrical costs of a moderate NOx burner? Recently developed configurable NOx emissions technology allows building owners to have it both ways. These systems allow the NOx emissions to be adjusted with a few keystrokes so that New York City facilities can enjoy maximum efficiency in the short term, and easily adjust to meet new standards as they are enacted.

Fix the Boiler in July to Limit Emissions in the Winter!

Dan Wallace is the vice president of research and development at Preferred Utilities Manufacturing Corporation.

 

Do you know all of Preferred’s capabilities?

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 is applied to our existing products and is helping us to lead the industry with new and innovative power plant solutions.

Take a trip through our headquarters/ manufacturing facility and catch a glimpse of our engineering and production team at work! 

 

The end of summer is marked by the departure of our fine group of interns who join our team May through August. Before they go, interns and managers get together so each intern can present their major completed projects to peers and Preferred team members.

 

Thank you for your great work at Preferred and best wishes for a successful semester:

Jeff Hamilton, Nina Constable, Jake Powell, Nick Bishop, Scott Borgstedt, Christopher Bohn, Richard Bohn, Tim Vanderhave, and Michael Little.