Processing Magazine

When boiler capacity is the wrong measure

May 18, 2006

For industries that rely on steam as an integral part of their process, more horsepower is not always needed to meet increased demand — even when existing boiler capacity just can not keep up. As is true of many manufacturing facilities, when steam demand fluctuates up and down throughout the day, the ability to ramp up quickly to meet that kind of demand just isn’t there. That is where their boilers are letting them down. They may have all the capacity in terms of the horsepower that they needed. But their boilers just aren’t capable of a fast response to the kind of up and down demands they’re subjected to.

The question is, do you add another boiler to increase capacity or replace all the boilers with a different kind of steam producing technology that would basically have the same capacity? In these situations, the two most critical factors in calculating the best answer to this question are recovery time and energy efficiency.

For example, in food manufacturing facilities, the steam demand fluctuates up and down throughout the day. Plus, they have the extra demands of clean-in-place (CIP) systems. They require quite a bit of steam power because you’re heating up a large volume of water with sanitizing solution in it and circulating that throughout long pipes that run throughout the plant. The ability to ramp up quickly to meet that kind of demand often is not there. Unfortunately, growing companies succumb to the inefficient solution of adding more and more capacity when what they need is better technology.

To address this problem, Miura Boiler, Inc. has developed boilers that can be turned on and off like light bulbs so they are always operating at peak efficiency for greatest energy savings and fastest response to fluctuating demand. They are designed for steam starved, volatile demand processes.

As reported by Jaime Athos, Operations Manager of Turtle Island Foods, “Miura boilers really seemed to be designed for our kind of application. As natural gas prices increase, the return on our investment won’t be long in coming.”

The fuel-to-steam boiler efficiency of Miura boilers remains consistently high (85 percent+) at all steam loads from 35 to 100 percent. Other boilers only operate at their peak efficiency (±80 percent) when they are operating at 100 percent steam load. Since steam load is constantly fluctuating, Miura’s consistent efficiency provides consistent energy savings. A major contributing factor to their 85 percent fuel-to-steam efficiencies is Miura Boiler’s ‘low water content’ water-tubes’ surface serration that optimizes heat transfer.