Boiler Maintenance Can Lead To Big Savings
If you run a boiler – and a lot of you do – you’ll want to look closely at this brief review of the importance of boiler maintenance – especially keeping your tubes clean. Simply put, letting scale build up on your boiler tubes sucks money out of your budget.
Let’s take a basic large industrial boiler producing 150-psig steam at the rate of 45,000 pounds per hour. You run that boiler for 8,000 hours during an operating year, and it consumes 450,000 million BTU (mmbtu) of energy to create that steam. For this example, let’s say 1 million BTU costs you $8.00. Total fuel costs per year will come about $3.6 million.
Now let’s do a poor job of cleaning and allow just 1/32” (.031” – just 31/100 of an inch) of scale to accumulate on the waterside surfaces of your tubes. The U.S. Department of Energy says that will kick up your energy costs by about 2 percent. That doesn’t seem like much until you crunch the numbers and discover that 2% increase will cost you $72,000 over the course of a year! All told, that much money could pay for a couple of full-time people or maybe a new lift truck or even a small raise for you and your entire department.
While close attention to water treatment and blow-down are critical parts of boiler maintenance, you can never eliminate all the dissolved solids and gases that are present in water. There will always be there to coat the tubes and attack the metal they are made up of.
Boiler manufacturers recommend regular cleaning of your boilers, typically once or twice per year. Depending on your specific operating conditions, water quality boiler maker, hours of usage and seasonality. If you have a definite heating season, they will often recommend cleaning before and after the season.
Probably the largest component of a boiler cleaning program will be the cleaning of the tubes, a task, which until the advent of new technologies for cleaning both watertube boilers and firetube boilers.
In fact, a close look at every aspect of your boilers can pay big dividends. The January 20th issue of Plant Services tells about a chemical plant in Kentucky that did a careful analysis of their four older boilers, one of which dated back to the 1960s. After looking at the condition of all the boilers they made repairs and changes that will generate about $237,000 in savings in the first year.
Goodway Blogging Team
Public Domain Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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