Many industrial and commercial businesses use boilers as an integral part of their operations and very often they are one of the larger costs for the business. In many cases, the flue chimney is fitted with economisers which reuses some of the heat energy in the flue gases to heat the boiler feed water. Understanding the design and operation of the economiser helps when assessing equipment for repair, refurbishment or replacement.
Economisers offer an excellent opportunity to reduce energy costs associated with boilers, typically by 4-6%. However, each application has is own challenges, so the economiser needs to be designed and manufactured specifically for a particular situation. This also means that if the application changes in any way, the economiser may also need to be modified or replaced to maintain its efficiency.
From the outset, production managers and maintenance engineers are under constant pressure to minimise downtime and maximise productivity, which means they are looking for long-term reliability from production equipment. Achieving this goal requires a careful specification process and a well-organized, preventative-maintenance program.
Implemented correctly, proactive maintenance will identify potential issues before they cause unplanned downtime. By working with manufacturers and maintenance specialists, it is possible to plan repairs ahead of time so that they coincide with shut-down periods, leaving productivity unaffected.
Typically, economisers should be inspected annually to check the efficiency of the process and to ensure continued reliability. If any changes have taken in place in the application, these can be identified and assessed for their impact on the performance of the economiser.
Any loss in efficiency needs to be addressed at the earliest opportunity in order to keep operating costs at a minimum. Installations that are equipped with older designs of economiser may be able to experience a considerable improvement in performance by replacing it with a modern equivalent.
The latest designs, which are tailor-made to the application, can often recover the initial costs within 18 months. Minimising the loss of heat energy through the chimney and making more efficient use of the available energy can reduce both costs and carbon emissions.
Furthermore, as the focus on emissions from industrial processes in general intensifies, so the role of the economiser becomes more important. by reducing the amount of fuel used to produce heat in a boiler installation, heating efficiency increases, resulting in lower fuel use. This serves both the requirement to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.
To achieve the levels of performance and efficiency discussed so far, it is essential to work with experienced designers, manufacturers and installers. All three aspects of operating an economiser require expertise and in-depth knowledge that can be found in established heat recovery specialists, such as ThermTech.
Using precise survey data about the condition of existing installations, it is possible to establish the most cost-effective solution and identify the return on investment. As with any capital project, the business needs to understand the benefits, both in financial terms and environmental.
By incorporating the latest in design technology, materials and process performance, businesses that have already embraced the benefits of an economiser can upgrade legacy equipment. In doing so, they will advance their stated objectives of reducing costs and minimising emissions.