An industrial boiler works like a pressure cooker but on a larger scale. We can describe an industrial cooker as a closed vessel that uses electricity or another fuel source to warm the water or generate steam for humidification applications or industrial heating. The boiler works on a basic concept of a heat source transferring heat through a heat exchanger to heat water above its boiling point.
Simply put, an industrial boiler is a vessel that contains water that transfers heat generated by the fuel source into steam. The steam is then piped and directed to specific points of the boiler, used to run industrial equipment.
How Industrial Boiler Systems Works
Industrial boiler systems work in a simplified manner using basic science concepts. The parts of the boiler system are installed at different points. For instance, the heat source is placed in a separate compartment to the water vessel. Then, the water vessel is connected to the heat source using a metal rod.
The heat from the source is transferred to the water through the rod, converting it into steam. After the steam is released from the boiler, it is collected in a dome above the vessel. This helps in condensing it and building enough pressure before exiting the system. Since many industrial processes use pressurized steam in running machines, this step is crucial for an industrial boiler.
The amount of pressure build-up in the dome will depend on the purpose of heating. For instance, turbines may require more pressure than agricultural soil steaming. Industrial boilers also come with a safety valve, ensuring that excess steam is released to prevent explosions. This may be connected to a purposely fitted chimney to provide an escape route for the heat while passing through the vessel.
Types of Industrial Boilers
Before contacting an industrial boiler company, you will need to know what to expect. When purchasing a boiler, you can choose one that produces hot water or steam.
On the one hand, hot water boilers are functional in hydronic systems. Their applications include domestic and commercial hot water needs, commercial dishwashers, freeze protection, comfort heating, car washes, radiant floor heating, laundromats, and more. On the other hand, steam boilers are used in turbines for power generation, agricultural soil steaming, and industrial heating applications such as cement production.
In addition to applications, the functionality of industrial boilers also differs. Essentially, industrial boilers can be distinguished based on their construction and design, which defines their heat exchange method.
- Fire-Tube Boiler: The fire-tube boiler typically comprises a furnace, a water tank (boiler), and a smokestack. They work by feeding hot gases from the heating source (furnace) through tubes inside a water-filled drum. Tubes run through the water tank with the heat from the furnace while the smokestack vents the gases and heat caused by the heating effect to ensure pressure does not rise beyond the intended level. These are the cheapest industrial boilers, simple to construct but limited for low to medium pressure applications.
- Water-Tube Boiler: The water-tube boiler is designed similarly to a fire-tube boiler. However, the furnace does not heat tubes to heat water in a tank. Instead, water-tube boilers feed hot water through tubes that run through a boiler drum or casing. A fuel source burns in the furnace, which causes the water tubes inside to heat up. As the water boils, steam is generated and moved downstream. This type of industrial boiler is thermally more efficient than a fire-tube boiler but more complex in construction. It’s also relatively more expensive.
- Cast Iron Boiler: Also known as sectional boilers, cast iron boilers are fabricated from several cast iron sections bolted together. They comprise a firebox surrounded by a water chamber that transfers heat. Then, they are assembled in a room with a conventional size doorway. This process makes the sectional boilers convenient as replacement units, eliminating the need for removing the wall temporarily to provide access for larger package units.
Nearly every building or facility uses industrial boilers. While the term industrial may make these boilers appear complex, they operate almost like the standard boiler used at home. The significant difference is that industrial boiler systems are designed to provide heating solutions on a large scale.
Industrial boilers come with larger dimensions and more complex components that provide heating capacities for hotels, skyscrapers, factories, and entire city districts. They all use the same basic heating water or another suitable liquid inside a closed vessel to generate steam. The steam is exited from the vessel, pressurized, and used for heating applications, cooking, boiler-based power generation, and other uses.
At Industrial Boilers America, we have the expertise and 20+ years of experience to guide you in choosing the best industrial boiler system for your specific needs. Contact us today.