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by Florian Wisinski

FIRETUBE BOILER

of
the

FUTURE

Advanced design software, EX Technology aim to set


tomorrows standard.

he recent advancements in computational fluid


dynamics (CFD) and other analytical design techniques have set the stage for the development of
cutting-edge technology that will soon challenge
the age-old design standard and lay the foundation for the next generation of firetube boilers.
Since the 1950s, boilers have been built with the 5-sq-ft/4-pass
design standard in mind. During the past half-century, there
have been innovations in boiler designs, controls, and burner
technology, but none has really revolutionized the industry.
With ready access to advanced design CFD, a group of design engineers at Cleaver-Brooks recently asked the question, If we were to
optimize a firetube boiler for combustion and thermal performance,
starting with a blank sheet of paper, what would be the result?
With that question in mind, the engineers embarked on a mission to develop boiler technology that sets a new standard for operating efficiency. They knew that to meet their goal of developing
truly innovative technology, they would have to center their efforts
on extending the heat transfer surface and redesigning the furnace.
Boilers traditionally have been manufactured using plain tubes
with multiple passes to capture convective heat transfer. When gases travel through the middle of a plain tube, a fluid boundary layer
builds up that causes an increased resistance to the heat transfer.
Design engineers have long known that extending the heat
transfer surface would decrease the resistance in the middle of the
tube; however, they were limited by the availability and high cost
of technology to perform the sophisticated simulations necessary.

ADVANCED DESIGN
SOFTWARE PROPELS PROGRESS
Within the past three years, a number of advanced design software programs have become available and more affordable,
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FALL 2010

enabling engineers to perform extremely complex calculations


critical to developing the next generation of boilers.
Using advanced CFD modeling, engineers at Cleaver-Brooks
began focusing their efforts on re-engineering the heat transfer
of the boiler tubes, where 30% to 40% of the total heat transfer
takes place. The engineers strived to develop the right crosssection for optimal heat transfer performance. They continuously made changes to the number of ribs, the angle of the ribs,
and the height and width of the ribs.
Having an extended heating surface lessens the number of
required tubes, which gave the design engineers the flexibility
to improve the combustion system, where 60% to 70% of the
total heat transfer occurs. Their objective was to optimize the
furnace geometry for stable combustion and lower emissions.
During their six months of analysis utilizing a number of
sophisticated research techniques, including advanced CFD
modeling and finite element analysis, the engineers examined
a number of variables. They defined different boundary conditions and loads and fed the information into the computer to
crunch the numbers. They would then analyze the calculations,
continuing to refine the geometry to achieve the optimal result.

THE NEXT-GENERATION BOILER


The engineers achieved their goal of developing new boiler technology that provides the best performance with regard to heat transfer, while withstanding typical applications. The result is a new,
integrated firetube boiler system with EX Technology that delivers
improved fuel economy and reduced emissions in a compact, longer-life boiler operating with reduced downtime and maintenance.
The newly designed, proprietary heat transfer tube increased
the heat transfer rate by 85% compared to a plain tube, and the
larger furnace diameter produced a number of benefits, includ-

ing: better heat transfer, lower turn-around gas temperature


and reduced thermal expansion.
Due to the superior utilization of the tube heat transfer surface,
an integrated boiler, burner, control, and heat recovery system with
EX Technology will attain the maximum achievable operating efficiency, and require less fuel due to lean burn technology across
the industrys broadest range of load following modulation while
maintaining ultra low NOx and CO. In addition, boilers with EX
technology are engineered for a faster cold start-to-steam time and
exhibit lower hot stand-by costs compared to traditional systems.
Just as engineering progress dictated that the 5-sq-ft/4-pass
boiler replace the previous criterion of 10 sq ft of heating surface a half-century ago, EX Technology sets the stage for the
establishment of a new boiler standard that delivers superior
performance in a smaller footprint. TB
Wisinski is product manager, firetube boilers for CleaverBrooks. Cleaver-Brooks is a world-renowned provider of boiler
room products and systems that helps customers and the industry reduce energy usage, cost and environmental impact. As the
pioneer of packaged firetube and watertube boilers, CleaverBrooks is the only manufacturer in the world to offer an entirely
integrated boiler room solution for any size application. Visit
cleaverbrooks.com for more information.

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