The Basics of Industrial Steam Boiler Systems
Hospitals, universities, laundry services, food processing services, breweries, factories… All of these industries and numerous others rely on some type of boiler system to provide steam, heat and/or hot water for their operations. However, not all industrial boiler systems are alike, nor is one type or size boiler system ideal for the needs of every facility. Whether you are installing a boiler in a brand-new building or replacing an aging boiler in an existing facility, here are the basics you need to know in order to make an informed choice about what is right for your needs.
Choosing the Right Type of Boiler
The first two decisions you’ll need to make regarding your industrial boiler system are which type of heating system you need, and which kind of fuel your boiler will use. Boilers typically come in either a fire-tube or water-tube heating design, and they are designed either to run on natural gas or a dual-fuel option.
Fire-tube vs. Water-tube
Most conventional boilers use a fire-tube design, in which hot flue gas runs through a tube that is surrounded by the water in the tank. A water-tube design basically works in the opposite way: The water flows through a tube that is surrounded by hot flue gas. For most applications, a water-tube boiler is far more efficient because it produces steam in minutes and requires far less time to power up and blow down. Water-tube boilers are also usually more compact, require far less fuel to operate, and can be configured modularly to power on and off according to demand.
Natural Gas vs. Dual Fuel
Boilers can either run on straight natural gas, or they can have a dual-fuel design where the plant can switch between natural gas and heating oil (or propane) as needed. There are pros and cons to each type. With Miura, our LX series are more compact and are rated for lower emissions standards, but they run solely on natural gas. Our EX series have a dual-fuel design, so the plant can run on whichever fuel is cheapest—but the tradeoff is the EX boilers are larger and have a larger emissions footprint.
Why Choose an Industrial Modular Boiler?
With conventional fire-tube boilers, the facility is generally limited to a one-size-fits-all when it comes to demand. The boiler requires an hour or more to power up and down no matter how much steam is needed from moment to moment. However, with a modular configuration of smaller water-tube boilers, the boilers can power up and down in direct response to fluctuating load demands, resulting in a much more energy-efficient and cost-efficient operation.
Industries that are well-suited for modular boilers
Modular configurations are ideal for almost any industry with fluctuating steam demands, including:
- Breweries and Distilleries
- Food & Beverage Companies
- Chemical Production Companies
- Healthcare Facilities
- Laundry Services (may have peak demands as hotels and restaurants send in items for cleaning)
- Textile Industries
- Universities and Schools (e.g., campuses with multiple buildings and/or dorms where students use more hot water at morning and at night)
- Industrial Manufacturing (e.g., plants producing large items like aircraft and machinery)
Boiler Maintenance and Safety
Ongoing boiler maintenance is key to safe operations, and the easier the boilers are to maintain, the better. One of your primary considerations is whether your boiler system has adequate monitoring, self-diagnostic and troubleshooting features. While boiler explosions are relatively rare, they are even rarer in water-tube boilers than those with a fire-tube design—and with modular configurations, if one boiler fails or overloads, the other boilers can pick up the slack to reduce downtime.
Miura boiler systems come with a variety of state-of-the-art monitoring and diagnostic features to ensure smooth operations including water quality, chemical levels, built-in microcontrollers with digital readouts and Miura Online Monitoring (MOM) systems, all of which work together to identify and resolve exceptions quickly and facilitate troubleshooting.
Understanding the basics of industrial boiler systems can help you determine which type of boiler will best serve your facility’s purposes. If you’re looking to install a low-maintenance, high-efficiency boiler system for your plant, factory or campus, we’d love to discuss your options.