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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Introduction to Steam

Throughout history, mankind has reached beyond the acceptable to pursue a challenge, achieving significant accomplishments and developing new technology. This process is both scientific and creative. Entire civilizations, organizations, and most notably, individuals have succeeded by simply doing what has never been done before. A prime example is the safe and efficient use of steam. One of the most significant series of events shaping todays world is the industrial revolution that began in the late seventeenth century. The desire to generate steam on demand sparked this revolution, and technical advances in steam generation allowed it to continue. Without these developments, the industrial revolution as we know it would not have taken place. It is therefore appropriate to say that few technologies developed through human ingenuity have done so much to advance mankind as the safe and dependable generation of steam.

Intimately related to steam generation is the steam turbine, a device that changes the energy of steam into mechanical work. In the early 1600s, an Italian named Giovanni Branca produced a unique invention (Fig. 2). He first produced steam, based on Heros aeolipile. By channeling the steam to a wheel that rotated, the steam pressure caused the wheel to turn. Thus began the development of the steam turbine. The primary use of steam turbines today is for electric power production. In one of the most complex systems ever designed by mankind, superheated highpressure steam is produced in a boiler and channeled to turbine-generators to produce electricity.

Steam as a resource
In 200 B.C., a Greek named Hero designed a simple machine that used steam as a power source (Fig. 1). He began with a cauldron of water, placed above an open fire. As the fire heated the cauldron, the cauldron shell transferred the heat to the water. When the water reached the boiling point of 212F (100C), it changed form and turned into steam. The steam passed through two pipes into a hollow sphere, which was pivoted at both sides. As the steam escaped through two tubes attached to the sphere, each bent at an angle, the sphere moved, rotating on its axis. Hero, a mathematician and scientist, labeled the device aeolipile, meaning rotary steam engine. Although the invention was only a novelty, and Hero made no suggestion for its use, the idea of generating steam to do useful work was born. Even today, the basic idea has remained the same generate heat, transfer the heat to water, and produce steam.
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Fig. 1 Heros aeolipile.


The Babcock & Wilcox Company Todays steam plants are a complex and highly sophisticated combination of engineered elements. Heat is obtained either from primary fossil fuels like coal, oil or natural gas, or from nuclear fuel in the form of uranium. Other sources of heat-producing energy include waste heat and exhaust gases, bagasse and biomass, spent chemicals and municipal waste, and geothermal and solar energy. Each fuel contains potential energy, or a heating value measured in Btu/lb (J/kg). The goal is to release this energy, most often by a controlled combustion process or, with uranium, through fission. The heat is then transferred to water through tube walls and other components or liquids. The heated water then changes form, turning into steam. The steam is normally heated further to specific temperatures and pressures. Steam is also a vital resource in industry. It drives pumps and valves, helps produce paper and wood products, prepares foods, and heats and cools large buildings and institutions. Steam also propels much of the worlds naval fleets and a high percentage of commercial marine transport. In some countries, steam plays a continuing role in railway transportation. Steam generators, commonly referred to as boilers, range in size from those needed to heat a small building to those used individually to produce 1300 megawatts of electricity in a power generating station enough power for more than one million people. These larger units deliver more than ten million pounds of superheated steam per hour (1260 kg/s) with steam temperatures exceeding 1000F (538C) and pressures exceeding 3800 psi (26.2 MPa). Todays steam generating systems owe their dependability and safety to the design, fabrication and operation of safe water tube boilers, first patented by George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox in 1867 (Fig. 3). Because the production of steam power is a tremendous resource, it is our challenge and responsibility to further develop and use this resource safely, efficiently, dependably, and in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Fig. 3 First Babcock & Wilcox boiler, patented in 1867.

Fuels were needed for space heating and cooking and for general industrial and military growth. Forests were being stripped and coal was becoming an important fuel. Coal mining was emerging as a major industry. As mines became deeper, they were often flooded with underground water. The English in particular were faced with a very serious curtailment of their industrial growth if they could not find some economical way to pump water from the mines. Many people began working on the problem and numerous patents were issued for machines to pump water from the mines using the expansive power of steam. The early machines used wood and charcoal for fuel, but coal eventually became the dominant fuel. The most common source of steam at the time was a shell boiler, little more than a large kettle filled with water and heated at the bottom (Fig. 4). Not all early developments in steam were directed toward pumps and engines. In 1680, Dr. Denis Papin, a Frenchman, invented a steam digester for food pro-

The early use of steam Steam generation as an industry began almost two thousand years after Heros invention, in the seventeenth century. Many conditions began to stimulate the development of steam use in a power cycle. Mining for ores and minerals had expanded greatly and large quantities of fuel were needed for ore refining.

Fig. 2 Brancas steam turbine.

Fig. 4 Haycock shell boiler, 1720.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company cessing, using a boiler under heavy pressure. To avoid explosion, Papin added a device which is the first safety valve on record. Papin also invented a boiler with an internal firebox, the earliest record of such construction. Many experiments concentrated on using steam pressure or atmospheric pressure combined with a vacuum. The result was the first commercially successful steam engine, patented by Thomas Savery in 1698, to pump water by direct displacement (Fig. 5). The patent credits Savery with an engine for raising water by the impellant force of fire, meaning steam. The mining industry needed the invention, but the engine had a limited pumping height set by the pressure the boiler and other vessels could withstand. Before its replacement by Thomas Newcomens engine (described below), John Desaguliers improved the Savery engine, adding the Papin safety valve and using an internal jet for the condensing part of the cycle. Steam engine developments continued and the earliest cylinder-and-piston unit was based on Papins suggestion, in 1690, that the condensation of steam should be used to make a vacuum beneath a piston, after the piston had been raised by expanding steam. Newcomens atmospheric pressure engine made practical use of this principle. While Papin neglected his own ideas of a steam engine to develop Saverys invention, Thomas Newcomen and his assistant John Cawley adapted Papins suggestions in a practical engine. Years of experimentation ended with success in 1711 (Fig. 6). Steam admitted from the boiler to a cylinder raised a piston by expansion and assistance from a counterweight on the other end of a beam, actuated by the piston. The steam valve was then closed and the steam in the cylinder was condensed by a spray of cold water. The vacuum which formed caused the piston to be forced downward by atmospheric pressure, doing work on a pump. Condensed water in the cylinder was expelled through a valve by the entry of steam which was at a pressure slightly above atmospheric. A 25 ft (7.6 m) oak beam, used to transmit power from the cylinder to the water pump, was a dominant feature

Fig. 6 Newcomens beam engine, 1711.

of what came to be called the beam engine. The boiler used by Newcomen, a plain copper brewers kettle, was known as the Haycock type. (See Fig. 4.) The key technical challenge remained the need for higher pressures, which meant a more reliable and stronger boiler. Basically, evolution of the steam boiler paralleled evolution of the steam engine. During the late 1700s, the inventor James Watt pursued developments of the steam engine, now physically separated from the boiler. Evidence indicates that he helped introduce the first waggon boiler, so named because of its shape (Fig. 7). Watt concentrated on the engine and developed the separate steam condenser to create the vacuum and also replaced atmospheric pressure with steam pressure, improving the engines efficiency. He also established the measurement of horsepower, calculating that one horse could raise 550 lb (249 kg) of weight a distance of 1 ft (0.3 m) in one second, the equivalent of 33,000 lb (14,969 kg) a distance of one foot in one minute.

Fig. 5 Saverys engine, circa 1700.

Fig. 7 Waggon boiler, 1769.

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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Fire tube boilers The next outstanding inventor and builder was Richard Trevithick, who had observed many pumping stations at his fathers mines. He realized that the problem with many pumping systems was the boiler capacity. Whereas copper was the only material previously available, hammered wrought iron plates could now be used, although the maximum length was 2 ft (0.6 m). Rolled iron plates became available in 1875. In 1804, Trevithick designed a higher pressure engine, made possible by the successful construction of a high pressure boiler (Fig. 8). Trevithicks boiler design featured a cast iron cylindrical shell and dished end. As demand grew further, it became necessary to either build larger boilers with more capacity or put up with the inconveniences of operating many smaller units. Engineers knew that the longer the hot gases were in contact with the shell and the greater the exposed surface area, the greater the capacity and efficiency. While a significant advance, Newcomens engine and boiler were so thermally inefficient that they were frequently only practical at coal mine sites. To make the system more widely applicable, developers of steam engines began to think in terms of fuel economy. Noting that nearly half the heat from the fire was lost because of short contact time between the hot gases and the boiler heating surface, Dr. John Allen may have made the first calculation of boiler efficiency in 1730. To reduce heat loss, Allen developed an internal furnace with a smoke flue winding through the water, like a coil in a still. To prevent a deficiency of combustion air, he suggested the use of bellows to force the gases through the flue. This probably represents the first use of forced draft. Later developments saw the single pipe flue replaced by many gas tubes, which increased the amount of

heating surface. These fire tube boilers were essentially the design of about 1870. However, they were limited in capacity and pressure and could not meet the needs that were developing for higher pressures and larger unit sizes. Also, there was the ominous record of explosions and personal injury because of direct heating of the pressure shell, which contained large volumes of water and steam at high temperature and pressure. The following appeared in the 1898 edition of Steam: That the ordinary forms of boilers (fire tube boilers) are liable to explode with disastrous effect is conceded. That they do so explode is witnessed by the sad list of casualties from this cause every year, and almost every day. In the year 1880, there were 170 explosions reported in the United States, with a loss of 259 lives, and 555 persons injured. In 1887 the number of explosions recorded was 198, with 652 persons either killed or badly wounded. The average reported for ten years past has been about the same as the two years given, while doubtless many occur which are not recorded. Inventors recognized the need for a new design, one that could increase capacity and limit the consequences of pressure part rupture at high pressure and temperature. Water tube boiler development began.

Early water tube design A patent granted to William Blakey in 1766, covering an improvement in Saverys steam engine, includes a form of steam generator (Fig. 9). This probably was the first step in the development of the water tube boiler. However, the first successful use of a water tube design was by James Rumsey, an American inventor who patented several types of boilers in 1788. Some of these boilers used water tube designs. At about this time John Stevens, also an American, invented a water tube boiler consisting of a group of small tubes closed at one end and connected at the

Fig. 8 Trevithick boiler, 1804.

Fig. 9 William Blakey boiler, 1766.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Fig. 10 John Stevens water tube boiler, 1803.

other to a central reservoir (Fig. 10). Patented in the United States (U.S.) in 1803, this boiler was used on a Hudson River steam boat. The design was short lived, however, due to basic engineering problems in construction and operation. Blakey had gone to England to obtain his patents, as there were no similar laws in North America. Stevens, a lawyer, petitioned the U.S. Congress for a patent law to protect his invention and such a law was enacted in 1790. It may be said that part of the basis of present U.S. patent laws grew out of the need to protect a water tube boiler design. Fig. 11 shows another form of water tube boiler, this one patented by John Cox Stevens in 1805. In 1822, Jacob Perkins built a water tube boiler that is the predecessor of the once-through steam generator. A number of cast iron bars with longitudinal holes were arranged over the fire in three tiers by connecting the ends outside of the furnace with a series of bent pipes. Water was fed to the top tier by a feed pump and superheated steam was discharged from the lower tier to a collecting chamber.

Fig. 12 Inclined water tubes connecting front and rear water spaces, complete with steam space above. Stephen Wilcox, 1856.

with inclined water tubes that connected water spaces at the front and rear, with a steam chamber above. Most important, as a water tube boiler, his unit was inherently safe. His design revolutionized the boiler industry. In 1866, Wilcox partnered with his long-time friend, George H. Babcock. The following year, U.S. Patent No. 65,042 was granted to George H. Babcock and Steven Wilcox, Jr., and the partnership of Babcock, Wilcox and Company was formed. In 1870 or 1871, Babcock and Wilcox became the sole proprietors, dropping Company from the name, and the firm was known as Babcock & Wilcox until its incorporation in 1881, when it changed its name to The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W). (see Fig. 3). Industrial progress continued. In 1876, a giantsized Corliss steam engine, a device invented in Rhode Island in 1849, went on display at the Centennial Ex-

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

It was not until 1856, however, that a truly successful water tube boiler emerged. In that year, Stephen Wilcox, Jr. introduced his version of the water tube design with improved water circulation and increased heating surface (Fig. 12). Wilcox had designed a boiler

Fig. 11 Water tube boiler with tubes connecting water chamber below and steam chamber above. John Cox Stevens, 1805.

Fig. 13 Babcock & Wilcox Centennial boiler, 1876.

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The Babcock & Wilcox Company hibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a symbol of worldwide industrial development. Also on prominent display was a 150 horsepower water tube boiler (Fig. 13) by George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox, who were by then recognized as engineers of unusual ability. Their professional reputation was high and their names carried prestige. By 1877, the Babcock & Wilcox boiler had been modified and improved by the partners several times (Fig. 14). At the exhibition, the public was awed by the size of the Corliss engine. It weighed 600 tons and had cylinders 3 ft (0.9 m) in diameter. But this giant size was to also mark the end of the steam engine, in favor of more efficient prime movers, such as the steam turbine. This transition would add momentum to further development of the Babcock & Wilcox water tube boiler. By 1900, the steam turbine gained importance as the major steam powered source of rotary motion, due primarily to its lower maintenance costs, greater overloading tolerance, fewer number of moving parts, and smaller size. Perhaps the most visible technical accomplishments of the time were in Philadelphia and New York City. In 1881 in Philadelphia, the Brush Electric Light Company began operations with four boilers totaling 292 horsepower. In New York the following year, Thomas Alva Edison threw the switch to open the Pearl Street Central station, ushering in the age of the cities. The boilers in Philadelphia and the four used by Thomas Edison in New York were built by B&W, now incorporated. The boilers were heralded as sturdy, safe and

Fig. 14 Babcock & Wilcox boiler developed in 1877.

reliable. When asked in 1888 to comment on one of the units, Edison wrote: It is the best boiler God has permitted man yet to make. (Fig. 15). The historic Pearl Street Central station opened with 59 customers using about 1300 lamps. The B&W boilers consumed 5 tons of coal and 11,500 gal (43,532 l) of water per day. The B&W boiler of 1881 was a safe and efficient steam generator, ready for the part it would play in worldwide industrial development.

Water tube marine boilers The first water tube marine boiler built by B&W was for the Monroe of the U.S. Armys Quartermaster

George Herman Babcock

George Herman Babcock was born June 17, 1832 near Otsego, New York. His father was a well known inventor and mechanic. When George was 12 years old, his parents moved to Westerly, Rhode Island, where he met Stephen Wilcox, Jr. At age 19, Babcock started the Literary Echo, editing the paper and running a printing business. With his father, he invented the first polychromatic printing press, and he also patented a job press which won a prize at the London Crystal Palace International Exposition in 1855. In the early 1860s, he was made chief draftsman of the Hope Iron Works at Providence, Rhode Island, where he renewed his acquaintance with Stephen Wilcox and worked with him in developing the first B&W boiler. In 1886, Babcock became the sixth president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was the first president of The Babcock & Wilcox Company, a position he held until his death in 1893.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company department. A major step in water tube marine boiler design came in 1889, with a unit for the steam yacht Reverie. The U.S. Navy then ordered three ships featuring a more improved design that saved about 30% in weight from previous designs. This design was again improved in 1899, for a unit installed in the U.S. cruiser Alert, establishing the superiority of the water tube boiler for marine propulsion. In this installation, the firing end of the boiler was reversed, placing the firing door in what had been the rear wall of the boiler. The furnace was thereby enlarged in the direction in which combustion took place, greatly improving combustion conditions. The development of marine boilers for naval and merchant ship propulsion has paralleled that for land use (see Fig. 16). Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, dependable water tube marine boilers have contributed greatly to the excellent performance of naval and commercial ships worldwide. were soon recognized by George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox, and what had become the Stirling Consolidated Boiler Company in Barberton, Ohio, was purchased by B&W in 1906. After the problems of internal tube cleaning were solved, the bent tube boiler replaced the straight tube design. The continuous and economical production of clean, dry steam, even when using poor quality feedwater, and the ability to meet sudden load swings were features of the new B&W design.

Bent tube design The success and widespread use of the inclined straight tube B&W boiler stimulated other inventors to explore new ideas. In 1880, Allan Stirling developed a design connecting the steam generating tubes directly to a steam separating drum and featuring low headroom above the furnace. The Stirling Boiler Company was formed to manufacture and market an improved Stirling design, essentially the same as shown in Fig. 17. The merits of bent tubes for certain applications

Electric power Until the late 1800s, steam was used primarily for heat and as a tool for industry. Then, with the advent of practical electric power generation and distribution, utility companies were formed to serve industrial and residential users across wide areas. The pioneer stations in the U.S. were the Brush Electric Light Company and the Commonwealth Edison Company. Both used B&W boilers exclusively. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, there was an increase in steam pressures and temperatures to 275 psi (1.9 MPa) and 560F (293C), with 146F (81C) superheat. In 1921, the North Tess station of the Newcastle Electric Supply Company in northern England went into operation with steam at 450 psi (3.1 MPa) and a temperature of 650F (343C). The steam was reheated to 500F (260C) and regenerative feedwater heating was used to attain a boiler feedwater temperature of 300F (149C). Three years later, the Crawford Avenue station of the Commonwealth Edison Company and the Philo and Twin

Stephen Wilcox, Jr.

Stephen Wilcox was born February 12, 1830 at Westerly, Rhode Island. The first definite information concerning his engineering activities locates him in Providence, Rhode Island, about 1849, trying to introduce a caloric engine. In 1853, in association with Amos Taylor of Mystic, Connecticut, he patented a letoff motion for looms. In 1856, a patent for a steam boiler was issued to Stephen Wilcox and O.M. Stillman. While this boiler differed materially from later designs, it is notable as his first recorded step into the field of steam generation. In 1866 with George Babcock, Wilcox developed the first B&W boiler, which was patented the following year. In 1869 he went to New York as selling agent for the Hope Iron Works and took an active part in improving the boiler and the building of the business. He was vice president of The Babcock & Wilcox Company from its incorporation in 1881 until his death in 1893.

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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Fig. 15 Thomas Edisons endorsement, 1888.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company Branch stations of the present American Electric Power system were placed in service with steam at 550 psi (38 MPa) and 725F (385C) at the turbine throttle. The steam was reheated to 700F (371C). A station designed for much higher steam pressure, the Weymouth (later named Edgar) station of the Boston Edison Company in Massachusetts, began operation in 1925. The 3150 kW high pressure unit used steam at 1200 psi (8.3 MPa) and 700F (371C), reheated to 700F (371C) for the main turbines (Fig. 18).

Pulverized coal and water-cooled furnaces Other major changes in boiler design and fabrication occurred in the 1920s. Previously, as power generating stations increased capacity, they increased the number of boilers, but attempts were being made to increase the size of the boilers as well. Soon the size requirement became such that existing furnace designs and methods of burning coal, primarily stokers, were no longer adequate. Pulverized coal was the answer in achieving higher volumetric combustion rates and increased boiler capacity. This could not have been fully exploited without the use of water-cooled furnaces. Such furnaces eliminated the problem of rapid deterioration of the refractory walls due to slag (molten ash). Also, these designs lowered the temperature of the gases leaving the furnace and thereby reduced fouling (accumulation of ash) of convection pass heating surfaces to manageable levels. The first use of pulverized coal in furnaces of stationary steam boilers had been demonstrated at the Oneida Street plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1918.

Fig. 16 Two drum Integral Furnace marine boiler.

Integral Furnace boiler Water cooling was applied to existing boiler designs, with its circulatory system essentially independent of the boiler steam-water circulation. In the early 1930s, however, a new concept was developed that arranged

Requirements of a Perfect Steam Boiler 1875

In 1875, George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox published their conception of the perfect boiler, listing twelve principles that even today generally represent good design practice: 1st. Proper workmanship and simple construction, using materials which experience has shown to be best, thus avoiding the necessity of early repairs. 2nd. A mud-drum to receive all impurities deposited from the water, and so placed as to be removed from the action of the fire. 3rd. A steam and water capacity sufficient to prevent any fluctuation in steam pressure or water level. 4th. A water surface for the disengagement of the steam from the water, of sufficient extent to prevent foaming. 5th. A constant and thorough circulation of water throughout the boiler, so as to maintain all parts at the same temperature. 6th. The water space divided into sections so arranged that, should any section fail, no general explosion can occur and the destructive effects will be confined to the escape of the contents. Large and free passages between the different sections to equalize the water line and pressure in all. 7th. A great excess of strength over any legitimate strain, the boiler being so constructed as to be free from strains due to unequal expansion, and, if possible, to avoid joints exposed to the direct action of the fire. 8th. A combustion chamber so arranged that the combustion of the gases started in the furnace may be completed before the gases escape to the chimney. 9th. The heating surface as nearly as possible at right angles to the currents of heated gases, so as to break up the currents and extract the entire available heat from the gases. 10th. All parts readily accessible for cleaning and repairs. This is a point of the greatest importance as regards safety and economy. 11th. Proportioned for the work to be done, and capable of working to its full rated capacity with the highest economy. 12th. Equipped with the very best gauges, safety valves and other fixtures.

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The Babcock & Wilcox Company the furnace water-cooled surface and the boiler surface together, each as an integral part of the unit (Fig. 19).

Shop-assembled water tube boilers In the late 1940s, the increasing need for industrial and heating boilers, combined with the increasing costs of field-assembled equipment, led to development of the shop-assembled package boiler. These units are now designed in capacities up to 600,000 lb/h (75.6 kg/s) at pressures up to 1800 psi (12.4 MPa) and temperatures to 1000F (538C). Further developments In addition to reducing furnace maintenance and the fouling of convection heating surfaces, water cooling also helped to generate more steam. Boiler tube bank surface was reduced because additional steam generating surface was available in the furnace. Increased feedwater and steam temperatures and increased steam pressures, for greater cycle efficiency, further reduced boiler tube bank surface and permitted the use of additional superheater surface. As a result, Radiant boilers for steam pressures above 1800 psi (12.4 MPa) generally consist of furnace water wall tubes, superheaters, and such heat recovery accessories as economizers and air heaters (Fig. 20). Units for lower pressures, however, have considerable steam generating surface in tube banks (boiler banks) in addition to the water-cooled furnace (Fig. 21). Universal Pressure boilers An important milestone in producing electricity at the lowest possible cost took place in 1957. The first

Fig. 17 Early Stirling boiler arranged for hand firing.

Fig. 18 High pressure reheat boiler, 1925.

Fig. 19 Integral Furnace boiler, 1933.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Steam Platen Secondary Secondary Drum Superheater Superheater Final Reheat Superheater

Primary Superheater
Primary Reheater




lations, both bubbling and circulating bed, for reduced emissions. Waste-to-energy systems also became a major effort worldwide. B&W has installed both mass burn and refuse-derived fuel units to meet this growing demand for waste disposal and electric power generation. B&W installed the worlds first waste-to-energy boiler in 1972. In 2000, an acquisition by Babcock & Wilcox expanded the companys capabilities in design and construction of waste-to-energy and biomass boilers and other multifuel burning plants. For the paper industry, B&W installed the first chemical recovery boiler in the U.S. in 1940. Since that time, B&W has developed a long tradition of firsts in this industry and has installed one of the largest black liquor chemical recovery units operating in the world today.

Catalyst Air Heater


Forced Draft Primary Air Fan Fan

Modified steam cycles High efficiency cycles involve combinations of gas turbines and steam power in cogeneration, and direct thermal to electrical energy conversion. One direct conversion system includes using conventional fuel or char byproduct from coal gasification or liquefaction. Despite many complex cycles devised to increase overall plant efficiency, the conventional steam cycle

Fig. 20 Typical B&W Radiant utility boiler.

boiler with steam pressure above the critical value of 3200 psi (22.1 MPa) began commercial operation. This 125 MW B&W Universal Pressure (UP) steam generator (Fig. 22), located at Ohio Power Companys Philo plant, delivered 675,000 lb/h (85 kg/s) steam at 4550 psi (31.4 MPa); the steam was superheated to 1150F (621C) with two reheats to 1050 and 1000F (566 and 538C). B&W built and tested its first once-through steam generator for 600 psi (4.1 MPa) in 1916, and built an experimental 5000 psi (34.5 MPa) unit in the late 1920s. The UP boiler, so named because it can be designed for subcritical or supercritical operation, is capable of rapid load pickup. Increases in load rates up to 5% per minute can be attained. Fig. 23 shows a typical 1300 MW UP boiler rated at 9,775,000 lb/h (1232 kg/s) steam at 3845 psi (26.5 MPa) and 1010F (543C) with reheat to 1000F (538C). In 1987, one of these B&W units, located in West Virginia, achieved 607 days of continuous operation. Most recently, UP boilers with spiral wound furnaces (SWUP steam generators) have gained wider acceptance for their on/off cycling capabilities and their ability to operate at variable pressure with higher low load power cycle efficiency (see Fig. 24). Subcritical units, however, remain the dominant design in the existing worldwide boiler fleet. Coal has remained the dominant fuel because of its abundant supply in many countries.

Other fuels and systems B&W has continued to develop steam generators that can produce power from an ever widening array of fuels in an increasingly clean and environmentally acceptable manner. Landmark developments by B&W include atmospheric fluidized-bed combustion instalSteam 41 / Introduction to Steam

Fig. 21 Lower pressure Stirling boiler design.


The Babcock & Wilcox Company

Final Final Superheater Reheater

Steam Separator Water Collection Tank Primary Superheater

Primary Reheater

Platen Superheater
Intermediate Superheater

Spiral Transition Headers Catalyst

Overfire Air Ports Low NOX Burners B&W Roll Wheel Pulverizers


Ammonia Injection Grid


Fig. 22 125 MW B&W Universal Pressure (UP) boiler, 1957.

Air Heater

remains the most economical. The increasing use of high steam pressures and temperatures, reheat superheaters, economizers, and air heaters has led to improved efficiency in the modern steam power cycle.

Circulation Forced Steam Coil Pump Draft Air Heater Fan

Flue Primary Gas Air Outlet Fan

Nuclear power Since 1942, when Enrico Fermi demonstrated a controlled self-sustaining reaction, nuclear fission has been recognized as an important source of heat for producing steam for power generation. The first significant application of this new source was the landbased prototype reactor for the U.S.S. Nautilus submarine (Fig. 25), operated at the National Reactor

Fig. 24 Boiler with spiral wound universal pressure (SWUP) furnace.

Testing Station in Idaho in the early 1950s. This prototype reactor, designed by B&W, was also the basis for land-based pressurized water reactors now being used for electric power generation worldwide. B&W and its affiliates have continued their active involvement in both naval and land-based programs. The first nuclear electric utility installation was the 90 MW unit at the Shippingport atomic power station in Pennsylvania. This plant, built partly by Duquesne Light Company and partly by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, began operations in 1957. Spurred by the trend toward larger unit capacity, developments in the use of nuclear energy for electric power reached a milestone in 1967 when, in the U.S., nuclear units constituted almost 50% of the 54,000 MW of new capacity ordered that year. Single unit capacity designs have reached 1300 MW. Activity regarding nuclear power was also strong outside the

Fig. 23 1300 MW B&W Universal Pressure (UP) boiler.

Fig. 25 U.S.S. Nautilus worlds first nuclear-powered ship.


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company U.S., especially in Europe. By 2004, there were 103 reactors licensed to operate in the U.S. Fifty of the operating units had net capacities greater than 1000 MW. Throughout this period, the nuclear power program in Canada continued to develop based on a design called the Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactor system. This system is rated high in both availability and dependability. By 2003, there were 21 units in Canada, all with B&W nuclear steam generators, an additional 11 units operating outside of Canada, and 18 units operating, under construction or planned that are based on CANDU technology. The B&W recirculating steam generators in these units have continually held excellent performance records and are being ordered to replace aging equipment. (See Fig. 26.) While the use of nuclear power has remained somewhat steady in the U.S., the future of nuclear power is uncertain as issues of plant operating safety and longterm waste disposal are still being resolved. However, nuclear power continues to offer one of the least polluting forms of large-scale power generation available and may eventually see a resurgence in new construction. in the test. After extensive investigation of various testing methods, the medical radiography (x-ray) machine was adapted in 1929 to production examination of welds. By utilizing both x-ray examination and physical tests of samples of the weld material, the soundness of the welds could be determined without affecting the drum. In 1930, the U.S. Navy adopted a specification for construction of welded boiler drums for naval vessels. In that same year, the first welded drums ever accepted by an engineering authority were part of the B&W boilers installed in several naval cruisers. Also in 1930, the Boiler Code Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) issued complete rules and specifications for the fusion welding of drums for power boilers. In 1931, B&W shipped the first welded power boiler drum built under this code. The x-ray examination of welded drums, the rules declared for the qualification of welders, and the control of welding operations were major first steps in the development of modern methods of quality control in the boiler industry. Quality assurance has received additional stimulus from the naval nuclear propulsion program and from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in connection with the licensing of nuclear plants for power generation.

Materials and fabrication Pressure parts for water tube boilers were originally made of iron and later of steel. Now, steam drums and nuclear pressure vessels are fabricated from heavy steel plates and steel forgings joined by welding. The development of the steam boiler has been necessarily concurrent with advances in metallurgy and progressive improvements in the fabrication and welding of steel and steel alloys. The cast iron generating tubes used in the first B&W boilers were later superseded by steel tubes. Shortly after 1900, B&W developed a commercial process for the manufacture of hot finished seamless steel boiler tubes, combining strength and reliability with reasonable cost. In the midst of World War II, B&W completed a mill to manufacture tubes by the electric resistance welding (ERW) process. This tubing has now been used in thousands of steam generating units throughout the world. The cast iron tubes used for steam and water storage in the original B&W boilers were soon replaced by drums. By 1888, drum construction was improved by changing from wrought iron to steel plates rolled into cylinders. Before 1930, riveting was the standard method of joining boiler drum plates. Drum plate thickness was limited to about 2.75 in. (70 mm) because no satisfactory method was known to secure a tight joint in thicker plates. The only alternative available was to forge and machine a solid ingot of steel into a drum, which was an extremely expensive process. This method was only used on boilers operating at what was then considered high pressure, above 700 psi (4.8 MPa). The story behind the development of fusion welding was one of intensive research activity beginning in 1926. Welding techniques had to be improved in many respects. Equally, if not more important, an acceptable test procedure had to be found and instituted that would examine the drum without destroying it
Steam 41 / Introduction to Steam

Research and development

Since the founding of the partnership of Babcock, Wilcox and Company in 1867 and continuing to the present day, research and development have played important roles in B&Ws continuing service to the power industry. From the initial improvements of Wilcoxs original safety water tube boiler to the first supercritical pressure boilers, and from the first privately operated nuclear research reactor to todays advanced environmental systems, innovation and the new ideas of its employees have placed B&W at the forefront of safe, efficient and clean steam generation and energy conversion technology. Today, research and development activities remain an integral part of B&Ws focus on tomorrows product and process requirements.

Fig. 26 B&W replacement recirculating steam generators.


The Babcock & Wilcox Company A key to the continued success of B&W is the ability to bring together cross-disciplinary research teams of experts from the many technical specialties in the steam generation field. These are combined with stateof-the-art test facilities and computer systems. Expert scientists and engineers use equipment designed specifically for research programs in all aspects of fossil power development, nuclear steam systems, materials development and evaluation, and manufacturing technology. Research focuses upon areas of central importance to B&W and steam power generation. However, partners in these research programs have grown to include the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, public and private research institutes, state governments, and electric utilities. Key areas of current research include environmental protection, fuels and combustion technology, heat transfer and fluid mechanics, materials and manufacturing technologies, structural analysis and design, fuels and water chemistry, and measurement and monitoring technology.

Environmental protection Environmental protection is a key element in all modern steam producing systems where low cost steam and electricity must be produced with minimum impact on the environment. Air pollution control is a key issue for all combustion processes, and B&W has been a leader in this area. Several generations of low nitrogen oxides (NOx) burners and combustion technology for coal-, oil- and gas-fired systems have been developed, tested and patented by B&W. Post-combustion NOx reduction has focused on both selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction systems. Combined with low NOx burners, these technologies have reduced NOx levels by up to 95% from historical uncontrolled levels. Ongoing research and testing are being combined with fundamental studies and computer numerical modeling to produce the ultra-low NOx steam generating systems of tomorrow. Since the early 1970s, extensive research efforts have been underway to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. These efforts have included combustion modifications and post-combustion removal. Research during this time aided in the development of B&Ws wet SO2 scrubbing system. This system has helped control emissions from more than 32,000 MW of boiler capacity. Current research focuses on improved removal and operational efficiency, and multi-pollution control technology. B&W has installed more than 9000 MW of boiler capacity using various dry scrubbing technologies. Major pilot facilities have permitted the testing of in-furnace injection, in-duct injection, and dry scrubber systems, as well as atomization, gas conditioning and combined SO2, NOx and particulate control. (See Fig. 27.) Since 1975, B&W has been a leader in fluidizedbed combustion (FBC) technology which offers the ability to simultaneously control SO2 and NOx formation as an integral part of the combustion process, as well as burn a variety of waste and other difficult to combust fuels. This work led to the first large scale (20

Fig. 27 B&W boiler with SO2, NOx, and particulate control systems.

MW) bubbling-bed system installation in the U.S. B&Ws research and development work has focused on process optimization, limestone utilization, and performance characteristics of various fuels and sorbents. Additional areas of ongoing environmental research include air toxic emissions characterization, efficient removal of mercury, multi-pollutant emissions control, and sulfur trioxide (SO3) capture, among others (Fig. 28). B&W also continues to review and evaluate processes to characterize, reuse, and if needed, safely dispose of solid waste products.

Fuels and combustion technology A large number of fuels have been used to generate steam. This is even true today as an ever-widening and varied supply of waste and byproduct fuels such as municipal refuse, coal mine tailings and biomass wastes, join coal, oil and natural gas to meet steam production needs. These fuels must be burned and their combustion products successfully handled while addressing two key trends: 1) declining fuel quality (lower heating value and poorer combustion), and 2) more restrictive emissions limits. Major strengths of B&W and its work in research and development have been: 1) the characterization of fuels and their ashes, 2) combustion of difficult fuels, and 3) effective heat recovery from the products of combustion. (See Fig. 29.) B&W has earned interSteam 41 / Introduction to Steam

The Babcock & Wilcox Company simulator (Fig. 30) permits a simulation of the timetemperature history of the entire combustion process. The subsystems include a vertical test furnace; fuel subsystem for pulverizing, collecting and firing solid fuels; fuel storage and feeding; emission control modules; gas and stack particulate analyzers for O2, CO, CO2 and NOx; and instrumentation for solids grinding characterization. Research continues in the areas of gas-side corrosion, boiler fouling and cleaning characteristics, advanced pulp and paper black liquor combustion, oxygen and oxygen enhanced firing systems, and coal gasification, among others.

Fig. 28 Tests for multi-pollutant emissions control.

national recognition for its fuels analysis capabilities that are based upon generally accepted procedures, as well as specialized B&W procedures. Detailed analyses include, but are not limited to: heating value, chemical constituents, grindability, abrasion resistance, erosiveness, ignition, combustion characteristics, ash composition/viscosity/fusion temperature, and particle size. The results of these tests assist in pulverizer specification and design, internal boiler dimension selection, efficiency calculations, predicted unit availability, ash removal system design, sootblower placement, and precipitator performance evaluation. Thousands of coal and ash samples have been analyzed and catalogued, forming part of the basis for B&Ws design methods. Combustion and fuel preparation facilities are maintained that can test a broad range of fuels at large scale. The 6 106 Btu/h (1.8 MWt) small boiler

Heat transfer and fluid dynamics Heat transfer is a critical technology in the design of steam generation equipment. For many years, B&W has been conducting heat transfer research from hot gases to tube walls and from the tube walls to enclosed water, steam and air. Early in the 1950s, research in heat transfer and fluid mechanics was initiated in the supercritical pressure region above 3200 psi (22.1 MPa). This work was the technical foundation for the large number of supercritical pressure once-through steam generators currently in service in the electric power industry. A key advancement in steam-water flow was the invention of the ribbed tube, patented by B&W in 1960. By preventing deterioration of heat transfer under many flow conditions (called critical heat flux or departure from nucleate boiling), the internally ribbed tube made possible the use of natural circulation boilers at virtually all pressures up to the critical point. Extensive experimental studies have provided the critical heat flux data necessary for the design of boilers with both ribbed and smooth bore tubes.

Fig. 29 Atomic absorption test for ash composition.

Fig. 30 B&Ws small boiler simulator.

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The Babcock & Wilcox Company Closely related to heat transfer, and of equal importance in steam generating equipment, is fluid mechanics. Both low pressure fluids (air and gas in ducts and flues) and high pressure fluids (water, steamwater mixtures, steam and fuel oil) must be investigated. The theories of single-phase fluid flow are well understood, but the application of theory to the complex, irregular and multiple parallel path geometry of practical situations is often difficult and sometimes impossible. In these cases, analytical procedures must be supplemented or replaced by experimental methods. If reliable extrapolations are possible, economical modeling techniques can be used. Where extrapolation is not feasible, large-scale testing at full pressure, temperature and flow rate is needed. Advances in numerical modeling technology have made possible the evaluation of the complex three-dimensional flow, heat transfer and combustion processes in coal-fired boiler furnaces. B&W is a leader in the development of numerical computational models to evaluate the combustion of coal, biomass, black liquor and other fuels that have a discrete phase, and the application of these models to full boiler and system analysis (Fig. 31). Continuing development and validation of these models will enhance new boiler designs and expand applications. These models are also valuable tools in the design and evaluation of combustion processes, pollutant formation, and environmental control equipment. Research, analytical and field test studies in boiling heat transfer, two-phase flow, and stability, among other key areas, continue today by B&W alone and in cooperation with a range of world class organizations.

Fig. 31 B&W has developed advanced computational numerical models to evaluate complex flow, heat transfer and combustion processes.

facturing process for bi-metallic tubing, using pressure forming to produce metallic heat exchangers, developing air blown ultra-high temperature fibrous insulation, and combining sensor and control capabilities to improve quality and productivity of manufacturing processes. Research and development activities also include the study of materials processing, joining processes, process metallurgy, analytical and physical metallurgical examination, and mechanical testing. The results are subsequently applied to product improvement.

Structural analysis and design

The complex geometries and high stresses under which metals must serve in many products require careful study to allow prediction of stress distribution and intensity. Applied mechanics, a discipline with highly sophisticated analytical and experimental techniques, can provide designers with calculation methods and other information to assure the safety of structures and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessarily conservative design practices. The analytical techniques involve advanced mathematical procedures and computational tools as well as the use of advanced computers. An array of experimental tools and techniques are used to supplement these powerful analytical techniques. Computational finite element analysis has largely displaced experimental measurement for establishing detailed local stress relationships. B&W has developed and applied some of the most advanced computer programs in the design of components for the power industry. Advanced techniques permit the evaluation of stresses resulting from component response to thermal and mechanical (including vibratory) loading. Fracture mechanics, the evaluation of crack formation and growth, is an important area where analytical techniques and new experimental methods permit a better understanding of failure modes and the pre-

Materials and manufacturing technologies

Because advanced steam producing and energy conversion systems require the application and fabrication of a wide variety of carbon, alloy and stainless steels, nonferrous metals, and nonmetallic materials, it is essential that experienced metallurgical and materials science personnel are equipped with the finest investigative tools. Areas of primary interest in the metallurgical field are fabrication processes such as welding, room temperature and high temperature material properties, resistance to corrosion properties, wear resistance properties, robotic welding, and changes in such material properties under various operating conditions. Development of oxidation-resistant alloys that retain strength at high temperature, and determination of short-term and long-term high temperature properties permitted the increase in steam temperature that has been and continues to be of critical importance in increasing power plant efficiency and reducing the cost of producing electricity. Advancements in manufacturing have included a process to manufacture large pressure components entirely from weld wire, designing a unique manu-


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The Babcock & Wilcox Company diction of remaining component life. This branch of technology has contributed to the feasibility and safety of advanced designs in many types of equipment. To provide part of the basis for these models, extensive computer-controlled experimental facilities allow the assessment of mechanical properties for materials under environments similar to those in which they will operate. Some of the evaluations include tensile and impact testing, fatigue and corrosion fatigue, fracture toughness, as well as environmentally assisted cracking.

Fuel and water chemistry Chemistry plays an important role in supporting the effective operation of steam generating systems. Therefore, diversified chemistry capabilities are essential to support research, development and engineering. The design and operation of fuel burning equipment must be supported by expert analysis of a wide variety of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels and their products of combustion, and characterization of their behavior under various conditions. Long-term operation of steam generating equipment requires extensive water programs including high purity water analysis, water treatment and water purification. Equipment must also be chemically cleaned at intervals to remove water-side deposits. To develop customized programs to meet specific needs, B&W maintains a leadership position in these areas through an expert staff for fuels characterization, water chemistry and chemical cleaning. Studies focus on water treatment, production and measurement of ultra-high purity water (parts per billion), water-side deposit analysis, and corrosion product transport. B&W was involved in the introduction of oxygen water treatment for U.S. utility applications. Specialized chemical cleaning evaluations are conducted to prepare cleaning programs for utility boilers, industrial boilers and nuclear steam generators. Special analyses are frequently required to develop boiler-specific cleaning solvent solutions that will remove the desired deposits without damaging the equipment.

Measurements and monitoring technology Development, evaluation and accurate assessment of modern power systems require increasingly precise measurements in difficult to reach locations, often in hostile environments. To meet these demanding needs, B&W continues the investigation of specialized sensors, measurement and nondestructive examination. B&W continues to develop diagnostic methods that lead to advanced systems for burner and combustion systems as well as boiler condition assessment. These techniques have been used to aid in laboratory research such as void fraction measurements for steam-water flows. They have also been applied to operating steam generating systems. New methods have been introduced by B&W to nondestructively measure oxide thicknesses on the inside of boiler tubes, detect hydrogen damage, and detect and measure corrosion fatigue cracks. Acoustic pyrometry systems have been introduced by B&W to nonintrusively measure high temperature gases in boiler furnaces.

Steam/its generation and use

This updated and expanded edition provides a broad, in-depth look at steam generating technology and equipment, including related auxiliaries that are of interest to engineers and students in the steam power industry. The reader will find discussions of the fundamental technologies such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, solid mechanics, numerical and computational methods, materials science and fuels science. The various components of the steam generating equipment, plus their integration and performance evaluation, are covered in depth. Extensive additions and updates have been made to the chapters covering environmental control technologies and numerical modeling. Key elements of the balance of the steam generating system life including operation, condition assessment, maintenance, and retrofits are also discussed.

Steam 41 / Introduction to Steam


The Babcock & Wilcox Company


Steam 41 / Introduction to Steam