Beware boiler impact of sulphur choices

Back pressure from scrubbers and different flame characteristics of fuels are just two factors that will affect how boilers are controlled and installed Back pressure from scrubbers and different flame characteristics of fuels are just two factors that will affect how boilers are controlled and installed

Ship owners’ compliance choices for the impending sulphur cap will have an impact on boiler combustion, Alfa Laval has warned.

In a new whitepaper titled ‘MARPOL Annex VI fuel strategies and their influence on combustion in boilers’, the company looks at boiler considerations for owners opting for low-sulphur fuels or continued use of heavy fuel oil with scrubbers.

“Depending on the choice made, there can be many different factors to consider when it comes to boilers and burners,” said Jeroen Van Riel, global service manager, boiler service, Alfa Laval. “There may be boiler modifications needed to perform optimally with a scrubber, or there may be issues with fuel line safety and the properties of alternative fuels. New flame characteristics, for example, may produce different results with an existing boiler configuration.”

In the case of scrubbers, Alfa Laval noted increased back pressure from the scrubbers will affect boiler operation and should be accounted for. Most boilers and burner systems can be modified to compensate for the calculated back pressure of a scrubber and is possible to install a retrofit package for the boiler that is customised for the specific combination of boiler and scrubber.

Regarding LNG as a marine fuel, the paper notes that while boilers can operate very well on LNG, “individual gas firing studies may conclude that steam output will be reduced”. Flame properties will also be different from an HFO or MGO flame, with less radiation heat transfer, meaning that boilers designed for fuel oil are not always ideal for burning gas.

On ultra-low sulphur fuel oil, Alfa Laval notes that the main challenge is that product available around the world may not have similar combustion characteristics. This means that attention must be paid to avoid excessive fouling of the boiler, with adjustments to the burner and combustion possibly required.

“Alfa Laval’s aim is to provide complete solutions and support, regardless of the customer’s fuel choices,” said Van Riel. “Our new white paper can be a valuable tool for customers in evaluating the issues and getting the best performance from their boilers, no matter which fuel strategy they decide on.”

The paper can be downloaded here.

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