Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Engineering Abstract for San Joaquin Valley Boilers

Looking out over the quiet rolling hills, it almost seems pastoral in the San Joaquin Valley these days. Many of the processing boilers have been shut down and laid up for the season.

But while some people are hibernating, I know the best boiler operators are taking action and caring for their equipment, demonstrating what I can only call a deep affection for detail.

Some of them have to, but many of them just think like me. A 180 mmBTU/hr boiler is more than just a piece of equipment and it never gets the appreciation it deserves.

You see, when most people look at a boiler, they only see some big piece of equipment. They think it costs too much to feed. They complain that it's never quiet, operating every minute of the season. They blame it for arguments because no one ever seems to agree how hard it should work. And lately, everybody says that it pollutes the air too much.

As an engineer, I think about boilers differently. Sometimes, I even ask myself what a boiler might dream about if a boiler could have dreams. Seriously.

I think a boiler might dream about NOx control and boiler efficiency. Or maybe it might dream about acquiring super powers like those super boilers at the University of Texas. Or maybe it would dream about making a transformation during the winter months, allowing it to do anything everyone wants — more steam, even more steam, not so much steam, and so on — all within seconds. Or maybe about using 12 percent less fuel. Or maybe reducing emissions.

Anthropomorphic excursions aside, most boilers need retrofits to become super boilers.

They have to. As NOx regulations reach the strictest possible level and energy costs continue to rise, the only solutions are to take advantage of the energy efficiency incentives available right now and retrofit these boilers well ahead of schedule for immediate cost savings and a faster payback.

In fact, with the right team, the payback on investment is remarkably short — sometimes as little as two years or less. Now you don't have to be an engineer or a boiler operator to appreciate that. But if you're still not sure, then subscribe to some of the case studies and solutions we'll be sharing in the weeks and months ahead.

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