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Preventing Freeze Damage This Winter

It's that time of year again for our annual freeze protection reminders. As you know, winter can bring extremely cold weather conditions, especially in Canada, the Northeast, Midwest, and Upper Midwest. To reiterate what we have been saying for years, here are a few things to consider to protect your rental boiler and auxiliary equipment (deaerators, water softeners, etc.) from damage due to freezing temperatures this winter.

1. If you are renting a trailer or skid-mounted firetube or watertube boiler and installing the unit outdoors, these systems are completely exposed to the environment. User's should consider enclosing the front and/or the rear end of the boiler, or build a temporary enclosure around the entire system. An external heating source should also be used. 

2. Install the proper heat tracing (steam or electric) and insultation on all main lines and piping components, regardless of whether the boiler (or auxiliary equipment) is in operation or sitting as stand-by. This should include the following lines: 
      - Sensing lines for all transmitters
      - Primary and auxiliary low-water cut-offs
      - Water column and connected piping
      - Bottom blowdown and surface blow-off piping, depending on the length of the piping runs. These valves should also be left open. 

3. During non-operational periods, drain all sensing lines and fill these lines with alcohol or a 50/50 water/glycol solution if possible and/or practical, making sure to re-connect each line. 

4. When an extended downtime is expected, completely drain the boiler, deaerator, pumps, water softener, and all associated piping (NBI installs the drain valves on all of our equipment for this purpose), as well as all stagnant water lines. 

5. If you are renting a trailer enclosed system or have enclosed system or have enclosed the rental boiler with a structure, please make sure there is an electric power supply to the system at all times, even if the unit is out of service and fully drained. The electric heaters in the trailer or structure require power, and if the rental boiler is needed it is considerably easier to bring a heated system to service. 

6. When filling a system in cold weather, remember that water may freeze when it comes in contact with cold piping. 

7. In extremely cold areas, you should consider adding electric heaters to the trailer-enclosed systems and inside temporary enclosures. Again, it is considerably easier to bring a system in to service in a heated area. 

8. Be sure to remove snow and ice from the roof of the trailer or enclosure. The accumulation of snow or ice can lead to blocked vent lines. 

9. If the boiler or auxiliary equipment is out of service, it is important to visually inspect the equipment on a routine basis to make sure all valving, piping, and sensing lines are sound and haven't frozen and split. 

If you are renting equipment, you're most likely paying a fair amount of money for the equipment and you will want the equipment to be operational if and when needed. Take these steps and be assured that the system will be available if needed. 

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Innovative Leaders: Virtual FAT Testing

Nationwide Boiler is known as being an innovative leader in the rental boiler industry. Over fifty years ago we pioneered the mounting of a 24,000 lb/hr package watertube boiler to a highway-legal trailer, and followed with many other firsts including the world’s largest trailer-mounted saturated and superheated steam boilers (125,000 lb/hr and 110,000 lb/hr, respectively).

In this age of digital technology and pandemic isolation requirements, Nationwide Boiler’s control division, Pacific Combustion Engineering, realized the need for virtual factory acceptance testing (FAT). An FAT is an essential element of the testing and acceptance of new critical control systems. The main goal of this test is to prove and certify performance built for a specific application and ensure all design requirements are attained.

Pacific Combustion’s new test gear consists of a 19” HMI that replaces toggle switches, indicating lights, potentiometers, and analog gauges. A PLC drives relays and consists of contacts that can be configured for the voltage that is required for input simulation. Outputs are displayed via selectable 120vac and 24vdc terminals. Analog 4-20ma inputs are selectable as either loop or self-powered.

During the virtual FAT, a web portal is accessible by the client through an audio/video link to the testing, and the client can actually operate the test rig HMI screen from their location. Links are also furnished to the burner management / combustion control system PLC and HMI.

This is a truly unique innovation at a time where travel can be difficult, providing an alternative to the traditional FAT and allowing business to continue even in heightened times like a global pandemic.

For more details on our virtual FATs, be sure to check out our upcoming feature in Process Heating Magazine. We will post the direct link as soon as it's available. And be sure to give Pacific Combustion Engineering a call to assist with your next control system upgrade. 360-335-1443

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Advantages of Renting a Mobile Boiler Room

Temporary steam will be necessary at some point in the lifetime of a boiler, so boiler owners should be prepared and know what rental boiler options are out there. Let’s review one of the most convenient rental boiler types available on the market today: The Mobile Boiler Room.

Mobile Boiler Rooms come in a wide range of sizes, typically ranging from 50 to 1,000 hp with design pressures of up to 290 psig. They are completely pre-piped and wired and incorporate all necessary auxiliary equipment for a functioning mobile steam plant. This typically includes a feedwater system, duplex water softener, chemical feed system, blowdown separator, and motor control center. Some units are dual-fuel fired, while others are natural gas only to achieve ultra-low NOx emissions compliance. In addition, Nationwide Boiler maintains multiple units that are pre-permitted for use in the SCAQMD to help simplify the air permitting process for our customers.

Mobile Boiler Rooms are often utilized in heavy commercial and industrial applications for added capacity or for supplemental steam. Some of the main advantages to this type of system include:

   - A Mobile Boiler Room is permanently mounted to a highway-legal trailer, so there is no time lost locating a suitable trailer
     for transportation.
   - Being permanently mounted to a trailer also avoids the need for cranes for loading and un-loading, saving both time and money.
   - Mobile Boiler Rooms are completely enclosed and fully weatherproof – no need for temporary enclosures.
   - No expensive and time-consuming foundations are necessary. Only a reasonably level surface is required.
   - All the necessary auxiliary equipment is included, pre-piped and wired. This saves valuable field time and expense.
   - Customers only connect the steam, fuel, water, and electricity drains, everything else is assembled and ready to go.

A Mobile Boiler Room is the closest you can get to a “plug-and-play” rental boiler system. They provide a packaged temporary steam plant that can be up and running in hours if an emergency need arises.  In fact, units have been installed and operational in just eight hours after arrival.

Visit our website to see all rental boilers available from Nationwide Boiler and give us a call today to assist with your next planned or unplanned temporary steam project.

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The Cost of Renting a Boiler

The rental boiler industry is unique and operates nowhere near the e-commerce business model; you may find it near impossible to find and compare pricing online. With that said, how can a user understand the potential cost of renting a boiler in the preliminary stages of their project, before they are ready to start reaching out and gathering information and pricing from vendors?

To get you started on the journey, these six major costs categories should be considered when looking at renting a boiler.

Equipment. Your process, as well as the steam capacity requirement, will often dictate which type of boiler is best fit for your operation. A watertube boiler, often best for larger capacity needs, will run at a higher cost than a firetube. If additional equipment is required like a deaerating boiler feedwater system, water softener, or SCR system for reduced emissions, additional costs will be realized.

You can save on costs if you are able to connect to existing auxiliaries, however, that is not always an option. A mobile boiler room, which includes a firetube boiler installed with a feedwater system, water softener, and blowdown separator, is a convenient option for customers needing an entire steam plant. Because it is a complete, pre-piped and wired system, the cost would be higher than that of a boiler-only option.

Freight. Often coordinated and re-billed by the rental boiler supplier, this will be a separate cost billed after each time the equipment moves (from the storage facility to your site, and then back to the storage facility). Costs will vary based on number of shipments required and how far the boiler must travel. Some companies, like Nationwide Boiler, have multiple maintenance yards to help facilitate quick and lower-cost shipments.
 
Installation. This is a piece of the process that is typically coordinated by the end-user and with a third-party supplier. Installation costs can vary greatly depending on the size of a project. The cost to install a mobile boiler room for a temporary project, as close as you can get to a “plug and play” system, would likely be much lower than the cost to install a large watertube boiler. Watertube boilers are more commonly installed in industrial applications along with economizers, SCR systems, and ductwork – heavy equipment that requires forklifts and/or cranes for installation.
 
Start-up. Most often, your rental boiler vendor will supply a technician for start-up with costs billed on a time and material basis. It’s important to ensure that the equipment is completely ready for start-up with all utilities piped and available, to reduce extra time costs. You will also want to consider any time required for site-specific safety training.
 
Utilities. Obviously, the utilities are the responsibility of the end-user, however, it is an expense that should not be overlooked. You will incur costs associated with the fuel, water, and electricity required to produce steam. Rental economizers and blowdown heat recovery systems can be utilized to help reduce these costs.
 
Water Treatment. This is an extremely important part of maintaining a rental boiler, and if not done properly can lead to extreme costs for equipment repairs. The cost of contracting with a water treatment supplier will be much less than what it would be to replace or repair damaged rental boiler equipment.
 

Ultimately, reaching out to your supplier of choice and obtaining a detailed proposal will be the best way to understand all costs involved with renting a temporary steam plant. Call or email your trusted Nationwide Boiler sales representative for a detailed cost proposal at 800-227-1966 or info@nationwideboiler.com.

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