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What is a Fire Tube Boiler and How Does It Work?

Fire tube boilers are all around us, as they’re involved in a variety of applications. Thanks to their ability to produce steam and generate power, you’ll find some form of a fire tube boiler in everything from steam locomotives and electricity generation for factories to heating buildings.

The many advantages they offer make them ideal for use in a range of industries, including marine, textile, and sugar mills, so if you’re just starting to learn about these industrial boilers and all they’re capable of, you can rest easy knowing you’re looking into widely-used, affordable solutions.

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about industrial fire tube boilers, including how they work and the business advantages they offer. 

What’s a fire tube boiler?

A fire tube boiler is one that uses thermal conduction to heat water in a vessel to create steam. That steam is then used for a variety of power generation or heat purposes.

Fire tube boilers are some of the oldest types of industrial boilers and because not much has changed in their overall design since their first use, they’re also considered to be one of the more simple steam-generation solutions.

It’s important to note that fire tube boilers do have pressure limitations; they’re commonly used for applications that are 350 psi or less.

What are the main components?

The main components of this type of boiler are:

  • A cylindrical shell that holds water
  • Firebox
  • Fire tubes
  • Steam dome
  • Smokebox, complete with a chimney

They also have drains, safety valves, grates, and feedwater inlet components but for the purposes of this article and understanding exactly how these industrial boilers work, we’ll be focusing on the above components.

General Design

While it’s true that fire tube boilers come in a variety of designs, making them popular options across a range of industries, the overall setup is generally the same.

There’s the shell that holds the water and the firebox. The fire tubes run through the water and lead out to a smokebox, where gas is released through the chimney. A steam dome sits at the top part of the shell, as does an exit chute for the steam that’s generated.

How do fire tube boilers work?

Fire tube boilers work by using the hot combustion gas that’s generated in the firebox (typically by burning coal) and pass through the fire tubes to heat the water in the shell. Said water is heated through thermal conduction, meaning the heat of the gas is transferred through the walls of the tubes and into the water. Over time, that water gets hot enough to produce steam.

The excess gas that’s created during this process needs somewhere to go, and that’s where the smokebox comes into play. That excess gas finds its way to the smokebox and the waiting chimney, where it’s then released.

Meanwhile, steam is being produced through this thermal conduction process and moves to the steam dome and the waiting steam outlet where it can then be used for whatever power-generating purpose it’s needed for.

What are the advantages of fire tube boilers?

One of the biggest advantages that fire tube boilers have over other types of industrial boilers is that they are relatively inexpensive. In facilities and power plants where operating costs typically run high, the cost of fire tube boilers is a pleasant surprise.

They’re also smaller than other types of options, making them easier to maintain. Thanks to the fact that fire tubes are inexpensive to replace, the maintenance costs that are associated with fire tube boilers are generally quite low, compared to say, water tube boilers.

Industrial Boilers America has your fire tube boiler needs covered

With help from our expert team here at Industrial Boilers America, you can easily find and compare fire tube boiler options that work for your business and your budget.

Our industrial boiler company is a trusted leader in the biomass industry, with a focus on quality, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. Contact us for professional assistance with all of your power plant equipment, parts, and energy needs today!

Industrial Boilers America

At Industrial Boilers America, we lead in providing the development, licensing, and deployment of Industrial Power plants. We partner with other leaders of communities and governments to foster long-term relationships that create sustainable energy, jobs, and social responsibility. Our philosophy that sustainability should be rooted in the betterment of the ecosystem rather than profit allows us to provide services that will enable our partners to reinvest in themselves, resulting in a sustainable community.

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