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Boiler Basics 101: Basic Anatomy of a Boiler

Boilers are designed to produce steam to accomplish a multitude of tasks; from powering a plant to sterilizing hospital equipment. In simple terms, a boiler is a closed container in which water is heated to its boiling point to produce usable steam. In order to produce steam, there are two key items that must be involved: water and heat.

A boiler is comprised of two seperate systems: the steam-water system (waterside), and the fuel-air-flue system (fireside). As you might have guessed, water is first introduced into the waterside of the boiler. Alternatively, the fireside of the boiler provides heat, produced through the combustion of fuel (commonly natural gas or fuel oil, but can be another source) and air, which is controlled by the burner.  The heat that is created within the fireside is transferred to the waterside to produce steam.

To complete a boiler system, additional elements are required. This typically includes the following major components:

  •    - Burner: a mechanical device that supplies the required fuel and air for proper combustion.
  •    - Controls: the BMS (burner management system) protects the equipment and personnel from safety issues.
         The CCS (combustion control system) controls the air and fuel for proper combustion.
  •    - Fan: supplies air for the combustion to take place.
  •    - Water Softener: pre-treats the boiler feedwater for removal of hardness, which would otherwise cause detrimental scale
         inside the boiler system.
  •    - Deaerator / Feedwater System: removes oxygen and gases from boiler feedwater supply (which will also damage boiler
         internals), and feeds it to the boiler system via high pressure feedwater pumps.

All of these elements come together to create a robust steam supply system that is utilized in an abundance of processes throughout many different industries. Boilers truly are a work of art, with many pieces working as one system to make something extremely powerful and impactful, which is why we at Nationwide Boiler are so passionate about what we do.

Stay tuned for the next article in ur Boiler Basics 101 series to learn more about common types of boiler systems.  

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Boiler Basics 101: What is Steam?

To kick-off our ‘Boiler Basics 101’ series, we are starting at the very beginning. The extremely useful resource, produced by the commercial and industrial boilers that we rent, sell, service and maintain… that resource is steam.

Our business, and the boiler industry as a whole, revolves around steam. We provide boilers and related equipment for both temporary and permanent applications; equipment that works together to produce the valuable resource of steam, utilized in an abundance of processes across many different industries. So, what exactly is steam and what is it used for?

Let’s start with the chemical composition of steam. Water can exist in three physical states; solid, liquid, and vapor. These physical states, in more common terms, are referred to as ice, water, and steam. When water is heated at atmospheric pressure, its temperature rises until it reaches the highest temperature at which water can exist at this pressure. This temperature, 212F or 100C, is the saturation temperature, or boiling point. As water boils and temperature continues to increase, water particles begin to form small bubbles that rise to the surface and vaporize. This is how steam is formed.

Traditionally, steam was associated with locomotives and the Industrial Revolution. However, now steam is an integral part of modern-day technology. Not only is it an excellent source of energy and heat, but it is also sterile, which makes it ideal for use in the food, pharmaceutical, and health industries. Many other industries also utilize steam for processing, petroleum refining, utility and power, and manufacturing.

Steam has become an invaluable part of our world.  Without it, many of the advances and technologies in today’s time would not be as effective or efficient as they are now.

Stay tuned for the next article in our Boiler Basics 101 series to learn about the basic anatomy of a boiler system.

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Rental Boiler Considerations - Save Time, Save Money and Minimize Risks

Companies require rental equipment for several reasons. By understanding the rental process and following the guidelines below, it is possible that the result will be both cost-effective and technically successful.

Steam Requirements - Up front planning is the most important stage when renting equipment. First, the maximum potential steam load needed must be calculated. Your steam requirement is expressed in either boiler horsepower (hp) or lb/hr (one boiler horsepower is equal to 34.5 lb/hr steam at 212°F).

Accessible Location - A location must be selected that is easily accessible for the delivery and setting of heavy machinery and one which has easy access to the building or equipment in which the steam will be required.

Utility Connections & Supply - Fuel, water and electric power connections must be easy to access and are of sufficient size to meet the needs of the rental unit. Typically, rental boilers fire natural gas, No. 2 oil, or heated No. 6 fuel. It is also important to make sure that there is sufficient fuel capacity to supply any existing units and a temporary boiler.

Equipment Supplier - When evaluating a supplier of rental equipment it is important to know if the company is a full-time, dedicated rental company with the experience, equipment and capabilities you require. In addition, the location of the company's equipment is important, helping to minimize transportation costs and travel time. It is also important to determine if the company provides start-up and installation services.
Here at Nationwide, we have boilers located throughout the United States and our service department is available 24 hours a day for technical support.

Reputable rental companies will provide complete drawings and equipment specifications in considerable detail. Such items include the total capacity and operating characteristics of the boiler, water treatment needs and requirements, emissions requirements, weather protection, performance testing, and ASME code requirements.

Proposal Evaluation - When evaluating a proposal, normal factors including payment terms, change-of-scope clauses, liability coverage, and transportation costs need to be addressed. A well written proposal should address the rate and term on the rental unit, freight costs, time and travel charges for technicians, and should specify appropriate responsibility for installation and removal costs. You should also get the warranty statement for the rental equipment.

Operating Permits - Before installation of the equipment can occur, it is necessary to arrange for any operating permits required from regulatory agencies. This includes special permits that may be required in those areas where emission limits are strictly controlled. Areas in California including the San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast require sub-10 ppm NOx requirements.

Nationwide Boiler took the lead in equipping our units with Low NOx burners and SCR systems (the CataStak). Users facing 5 ppm NOx can rest assure that we have an immediate solution.

Maintenance - To ensure continuous, safe, and trouble free performance of the unit, there are a number of regular checks and maintenance tasks which must be performed. It is important that a log sheet be kept on site for the recording of every routine check and maintenance items completed. Daily checks include an examination of all safety devices, followed by an inspection of the low-water cutoff during every shift. The entire system should also be checked for leaks and corrected immediately. The flame pattern of the burner must also be inspected to make sure the combustion devices are working efficiently. Moreover, proper boiler performance is highly dependent on following the proper feedwater treatment and correct blowdown techniques. Failure to maintain proper water chemistry is a major cause of damage to rental boilers and the single biggest rehabilitation expense.

Return Shipment - Lastly, there are certain steps that must be taken to ensure safe return of a unit to the rental company's facility. It is the responsibility of the user to have plant or local boiler shop personnel disconnect equipment after use, which includes draining and flushing all boiler lines with clean water to help minimize any chance of corrosion. A final check of the condition of the boiler should be properly documented, recorded and sent to the rental company once the equipment is shipped.

As long as you plan in advance, budget accordingly, verify connection sizes, address permitting issues, properly train operators, frequently monitor the feedwater quality, and take responsibility in maintaining the equipment once it is installed, you can be confident that the risks associated with renting equipment will be minimized and that your project will be a success.
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