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D.M. Rue, S.A. Nester and H.A. Abbasi Gas Technology Institute

D. Wishnick Eclipse Combustion

E.P. Levine U.S. Department of Energy


A new high-luminosity burner system for oxy-gas furnaces offers a large improvement in energy

efficiency and a significant decrease in NO x formed per ton of product. The burner has been patented, modeled, tested at several scales, and is being commercially demonstrated on a furnace producing insulating fiberglass. In this innovative burner, improvements arise from increased luminosity produced by forming and then consuming soot in the flame. Benefits include higher heat transfer to the load, lower flame and exhaust gas temperatures, and lower NO x generation. A highly luminous flame with high radiant heat transfer is achieved with the high-luminosity burner by combining a preheating zone at the burner inlet and a flame zone with fuel-rich and fuel lean combustion in the furnace. The results of commercial prototype testing (heat transfer, temperatures, and emissions) and comparisons with baseline conditions with an older burner are presented.


Un nouveau système de brûleur à haute luminosité pour des chaudières à oxygène et gaz natureloffre des résultats nettement meilleurs en efficacité énergétique et une réduction importante des NO x formés par tonne de produit. Le brûleur a été breveté, modelé et essayé à plusieurs échelles. Son rendement est en train d’être commercialement démontré dans une chaudière produisant de la fibre de verre isolante. Ce brûleur innovateur favorise les

améliorations produites par la luminosité augmentée lors de la formation et la consommation de

la suie dans la flamme. Les avantages comprennent le transfert de la chaleur à la charge, la

diminution de la flamme et des températures de gaz d’échappement ainsi qu’une réduction du rendement NO x . Une flamme hautement lumineuse avec un transfert élevé de chaleur radiante est obtenue avec le brûleur à haute luminosité en combinant la zone de préchauffage à l’entrée du brûleur et la zone de flamme à consommation élevée et légère de carburant de la chaudière. Les résultats des essais de prototype commerciale (transfert de la chaleur, températures et émission) ainsi que les comparaisons avec les conditions de ligne de base d’un un brûleur ancien sont présentés.


During the past decade, oxy-fuel firing has been adopted on a number of industrial glass melting furnaces and has proven to be commercially successful. The choice of oxy-fuel firing over traditional air-fuel firing is primarily driven by the desire for higher production rates and improved product quality and the need to meet present and anticipated NO x emission regulations. Incentives also include meeting carbon monoxide and particulate emissions regulations, demands for higher fuel efficiency, and desires for lower capital and maintenance costs. Costs are lowered by increasing production rate while eliminating or significantly downsizing flue gas heat recovery and cleaning systems. The decrease in industrial oxygen cost over the last decade has spurred the switch to oxy-fuel combustion.

While oxy-fuel firing is generally attractive and has been implemented in industry, process costs have kept the conversion rate low. Productivity increases and improvements in product quality often are realized only in new furnaces designed specifically for oxy-fuel firing. Additionally, optimization of the oxy-fuel combustion process promises to lower costs and to expand application of this technology. The High Luminosity Burner (high-heat transfer, low- NO x natural gas combustion system) addresses the limitations of state-of-the-art oxy-gas combustion and significantly improves the economics of oxy-gas combustion.

Wider industrial acceptance of oxy-fuel firing requires resolution of several limitations in current application of the technology. These limitations include the low luminosity of the oxy- gas flame and the formation of non-uniform temperature and heat flux distributions. The low luminosity of an oxy-gas flame in a hot furnace leads to poor radiative heat transfer to the load and decreased thermal efficiency. Non-uniform temperature profiles lead to formation of hot spots which reduce furnace and refractory (crown) life. Non-uniform heat flux profiles can adversely affect the quality of glass, steel, and other materials.

The limitations of current oxy-fuel firing technology can be overcome with an improved burner system providing a more luminous flame, a lower average flame temperature, and more uniform temperature and heat flux profiles. The High Luminosity Burner, based on an innovative GTI-patented design 1 , increases thermal efficiency and decreases NO x formation by increasing the radiative heat transfer to the load. In this novel combustion concept, soot precursors are formed by reforming (cracking) of natural gas. Subsequently, soot particles are formed and burned in the flame, increasing flame luminosity. Increased flame luminosity leads to higher radiative heat transfer to the load. At the same time, radiative cooling reduces the flame temperature. As a result, heat transfer uniformity is increased and NO x emissions are significantly reduced. This burner system can be installed on new furnaces and can be easily retrofitted to existing air-gas and oxy-gas fired furnaces.

A conceptual drawing of the High Luminosity Burner is shown in Figure 1. The burner features a Fuel Preheating Zone and a Combustion (Flame) Zone. The Fuel Preheating Zone includes Indirect Preheating and Direct Preheating sections. In the Indirect Preheating section, a portion of the natural gas is burned in a precombustor to generate hot combustion gases, and the majority of the natural gas is heated indirectly. The indirectly heated natural gas enters the Direct Preheating section and mixes with the precombustor products. Natural gas heating in the absence of oxygen leads to soot precursor formation. The Combustion Zone has Fuel-Rich and Fuel- Lean combustion sections. A highly luminous flame forms as soot particles form in the fuel-rich part of the flame and then radiate and burn in the outer, fuel-lean section of the flame. All of the soot is burned in the flame.

Figure 1. High Luminosity Burner Concept. Part of the natural gas (up to 15%) is

Figure 1. High Luminosity Burner Concept.

Part of the natural gas (up to 15%) is burned stoichiometricly with oxygen in the precombustor. The hot precombustion section products enter the Direct Preheating section where they rapidly mix with the majority of the natural gas and produce a hot gas mixture. Direct preheat of natural gas in the absence of oxygen as well as mixing combustion products favors the formation of soot precursors and, subsequently, soot nuclei. Residence times and temperatures are controlled to provide an optimal rate of soot precursor formation.

The hot gas mixture containing soot precursors and soot nuclei is burned in a flame in which oxygen introduction is staged to create Fuel-Rich and Fuel-Lean combustion sections. Oxygen is preheated while passing through channels near the Direct Mixing section. Temperature and residence time in the Fuel-Rich combustion section are controlled to provide sufficient time for soot to form in the flame and for desired flame geometry to develop. More oxygen is added to form a second, Fuel-Lean combustion zone. Heated soot particles radiate and produce a highly luminous flame. For maximum benefit, all or nearly all of the flame is located in the furnace over the glass surface. Increased radiative heat transfer to the load increases thermal efficiency. All of the soot burns out in the flame.


The addition of particles is known to increase the luminosity of a flame. Conductive and convective heat transfer raises the particles to a high temperature after which they radiate as gray bodies. Soot particles are present in coal and oil flames but are present at only very low concentration in oxygen-natural gas flames. In the high-heat transfer low-NO x burner, soot particles are created and then burned out in the flame. This increases flame luminosity and the heat transfer to the load while producing lower NO x and other air emissions such as CO, CO 2 , and unburned hydrocarbons. Higher heat transfer lowers the average flame temperature which leads directly to lower NO x production.

Combustion Tec, a division of Eclipse Combustion, and GTI previously invented an oxy- natural gas cracker that produces soot particles. Soot from the external cracker is transported to a low-NOx burner to burn along with the natural gas. Flame luminosity is increased, but the system cost is also increased by addition of the cracker. GTI performed experiments which show heat transfer is increased when soot particles are present, but system performance was not optimized. This can only occur if the flame luminosity is increased by the presence of the particles.

Significant work by GTI and others supports the concept of this innovative burner. Work by Factory Mutual indicates methane needs to be preheated to at least 1000°C (1830°F) to create significant amounts of soot in the flame. 2 Figure 2 shows how high methane preheat temperature significantly increases flame radiation. Older work of Wolanin 3 indicates the optimum methane preheat temperature is in the range 1150° to 1180°C (2100° to 2160°F). Wolanin shows the heat transfer to the load is increased 63% when 26.5% of the natural gas is decomposed and the gas is preheated to 1190°C (2174°F). For a practical high luminosity burner with soot generated in the flame, natural gas must be preheated to between 1000° and 1180°C (1830° and 2160°F) without cracking and then mixed with oxygen. The desired soot should be formed during the oxygen-hot natural gas combustion and not during the heating of the natural gas. Natural gas needs to be heated rapidly to form soot precursor molecules.

to be heated ra pidly to form soot precursor molecules. Radiant Fraction as a Function of

Radiant Fraction as a Function of the Fuel

Preheating Temperature at Various Oxygen Premixing Fractions.

Figure 2.

Numerous models of methane combustion exist in the literature. These models range from simple to very complex kinetic sets. The complex models include detailed kinetics of all major and minor flame species 4-6 and typically involve reaction schemes with 75 to 150 reactions and 30 to 50 reaction species. Simple models typically have 1 to 20 reactions and involve fewer than 10 of the major flame species, e.g. CO 2 , H 2 O, H 2 , CO, C 2 H 2 , H, and OH. 7,8 Both types of models can be used to predict major species concentrations, temperature profiles, and laminar burning velocities. 1-6 In simplified models, species whose concentrations are not calculated by the kinetics scheme are calculated by assuming thermodynamic equilibrium exists between

calculated species and those not calculated. Our efforts focused on selecting and modifying one of the existing simple models so the model could accurately predict not only the flame gas species and temperature profiles, but also the concentration profile of the soot nucleus and growth species. The selection of a soot nucleus and growth mechanism and kinetic modeling of this process constitutes a major contribution of this work. A second major contribution involves modeling the radiation heat transfer from the flame. These results are summarized here and have been previously published. 9

Development of the high luminosity burner from concept to commercial demonstration has received strong and continued support from the US Department of Energy’s office of Industrial Technology. DOE supported the first US conversion of a container glass plant from air to oxygen firing more than a decade ago at Gallo Glass. Since completion of that successful project, DOE has supported a number of cost-shared project design to improve state of the art practices in oxy-gas melting. DOE support for development of the high luminosity burner resulted from a successful, competitive, cost-shared proposal in 1995 by the project team. The project team established a clear commercialization path from the outset. The project team included GTI, as technology developer, Combustion Tec, a manufacturer and commercialization partner and Owens Corning, as demonstration host site and technical advisor. This work has received cost sharing from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and from the natural gas industry through Gas Research Institute (GRI) and GTI’s Sustaining Membership Program (SMP).

The High Luminosity burner has been developed from concept through laboratory and pilot-scale stages, up to commercial prototypes of the burner. Recent results are presented below.


Development of the high luminosity oxy-gas burner included:

Mathematically modeling of the preheating and combustion zones

Laboratory and pilot scale burner testing

Modeling the commercial burner designs

Commercial prototype burner design, fabrication, and test furnace firing at commercial firing rates.

The High Luminosity burner was modeled by teams at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), covering the preheat zone, and Purdue University, covering the flame zone. A procedure was followed in which the UIC team provided outputs from the preheat zone modeling to the Purdue team. In this manner, the complete burner system was modeled, and the impacts of fuel preheating and soot precursor formation on the flame zone thermal efficiency, temperature profile, and heat flux profile could be determined. The direct preheating of methane was found to have a strong impact on the creation and burnout of soot in the flame.

Concentrations change dramatically when direct preheating is used to add soot precursors to the methane entering the flame zone. Modeling calculates that direct preheating converts a 100% methane stream to a mixture that is largely methane containing 1% acetylene and 0.03% pyrene. When the gas enters the flame zone, the soot precursors proceed with additional reactions to form soot, and the acetylene is saved from oxidation by replacement reactions. This small amount of soot precursors present in the methane increases the soot in the fuel zone from 0.1% of

Heat Transfer

the carbon (with no direct preheat or precursors added) to 2% of the feed carbon. This is a 20- fold increase in soot concentration in the flame as a result of direct preheating.

To model the flame zone, a quasi two-dimensional (quasi 2-D) model was developed to predict radiative heat transfer in the model furnace. This model was then coupled with the thermal energy model of the furnace to calculate temperature distribution and heat flux along the load. Parametric calculations were then performed to examine the effects of furnace design and operating parameters on the furnace performance.

The combined modeling effort confirmed that the high-luminosity burner provides an increase in thermal efficiency of more than 20%. Modeling concluded that only 2% to 9% of the feed natural gas must be combusted to provide heat for soot formation and short residence times are required (10 -2 to 1 second at 1300 K and 10 -4 to 10 -2 second at 1600 K) to produce soot precursors and soot.

Before the commercial prototype burner was designed, laboratory and pilot-scale burner tests were conducted. The laboratory-scale testing with three different 150 kW th (0.5 MMBtu/h) burners took place in GTI’s Applied Combustion Research Facility (ACRF). The pilot-scale testing with a 600 kW th (2 MMBtu/h) burner was conducted at Combustion Tec, in Orlando, Florida. Combustion Tec constructed all test burners.

The results of tests with three prototype laboratory-scale burners were highly positive and confirmed the modeling results. Heat transfer increase to the load of more than 12 percent was achieved compared with a commercial Combustion Tec oxy-gas burner. Using lab-scale test results, a pilot-scale, 900 kW th burner approximately 15 cm (6 in.) in diameter and 127 cm (50 in.) long was built. Parametric testing was conducted in two series at Combustion Tec in Orlando, Florida along with comparison tests with a commercial oxy-gas burner. Variables included the amounts of precombustor gas and oxygen and the ratio between fuel-lean and fuel- rich combustion zones. Analysis showed a 140°C (250°F) drop in exhaust gas temperature, an increase in heat transfer to the load of 10%, and a 25% drop in NO x formed. Results are summarized in Figures 3 and 4.

640000 1700 620000 1500 600000 1300 580000 1100 560000 540000 900 520000 700 500000 Heat
Heat Transfer
NOx, 0% O2


640000 1700 1500 1300 590000 1100 900 540000 700 500 Heat Transfer 490000 300 NOx,
Heat Transfer
NOx, 0% O2
NOx, 0% O2
Heat Transfer
NOx, 0% O2

Figure 3. Commercial Primefire 100 Oxy- Gas Burner Test Results (Btu/h)

Figure 4. Pilot-Scale HighLuminosity Burner Test Results (Btu/h)

Figures 5 and 6 show the increase in flame luminosity with the high luminosity burner. These photographs were taken from the same port, with the same camera and exposure time, and at a firing rate of 660 kW e with the Primefire 100 and the high luminosity burners. The flame from the high luminosity burner was brighter and longer. This result, along with the increased

heat transfer and decreased NO x emissions, was used by the project team to develop a prototype commercial high luminosity burner.

to deve lop a prototype commercial high luminosity burner. Figure 5 . Primefire 100 Burner 660

Figure 5. Primefire 100 Burner 660 kW e Firing Rate

Figure 5 . Primefire 100 Burner 660 kW e Firing Rate Figure 6 . High Luminosity

Figure 6. High Luminosity Burner 660 kW e Firing Rate

With completion of the pilot-scale burner testing, various commercial burner designs were modeled. The objective was to retain the high luminosity burner concept of high radiant hear transfer, lower maximum flame temperature, and uniform heat transfer to the load while creating a ‘flat’ flame, reducing the inlets to one for gas and one for oxygen, and conducting all fuel-rich and fuel-lean combustion inside the furnace. Modeling led to design of a round, easily fabricated burner with a ‘flat’ flame. CFD modeling results in Figures 7 and 8 show formation of a flat flame with uniform heat transfer to the load.

of a flat flame with uniform heat transfer to the load. Figure 7. Temperature Contours Facing

Figure 7. Temperature Contours Facing Burner

to the load. Figure 7. Temperature Contours Facing Burner Figure 8 . Temperature Contours Through Flame

Figure 8. Temperature Contours Through Flame Center-Line

The designers simplified fabrication methods by using round stock for the back portion of the burner. The flat flame shape is achieved by changing the shape of the preheated fuel and oxygen channels as they pass through the burner block. In the commercial prototype burner, the burner and block are designed to work together to create the desired combustion conditions. This allows for the burner to be shorter with dimensions similar to commercial oxy-gas burners. The fuel ports are simplified to one for gas and one fro oxygen. The distribution of fuel natural gas

and oxygen to various portions of the burner is achieved using reliable orifices and pre-set to known fuel and oxygen distributions.

ifices and pre-set to known fuel and oxygen distributions. Figure 9 . Commercial Prototype High Luminosity

Figure 9. Commercial Prototype High Luminosity Burner (900 kWe) Mounted in the Hot-Wall Test Chamber

With the high luminosity burner design changed from a round flame to a flat flame shape, the comparison burner was changed from the Primefire 100 to the Primefire 300, the Combustion Tec commercial flat flame oxy-gas burner. The high luminosity burner demonstrated significantly higher heat transfer to a simulated load (a bank of 16 stainless steel tubes with a known water flow rate) as well as more uniform temperature and heat transfer profiles compared with the commercial flat-flame burner.

Two different burner blocks were used with the commercial prototype high luminosity burner. Figure 10 shows the heat transfer to the artificial load with both burner blocks and with the Primefire 300 burner. For all tests, the firing rate was 660 kWe. When no precumbustion was used, the Primefire 300 and the high luminosity burner showed the same heat transfer rate to the simulated load. With precumbustion of 5 and 7 percent of the natural gas, the high luminosity burner demonstrated a 4.5 percent increase in the rate of heat transfer to the artificial load. Because heat loss to the walls and to the exhaust is relatively constant, the overall decrease in the firing rate to achieve the same temperature with the high luminosity burner is 2 percent. The simulated load has much lower surface area and lower temperatures compared with a molten glass surface. For these reasons, the fuel savings on an industrial glass melter are estimated to be 4 to 5 percent.

3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 NOx (uncorrected), ppmv
NOx (uncorrected), ppmv


Precombustion Oxygen, %

Primefire 3003000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 NOx (uncorrected), ppmv 003557 Precombustion Oxygen, % HELN

HELN3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 NOx (uncorrected), ppmv 003557 Precombustion Oxygen, % Primefire 300

Figure 10. Heat Transfer Increase With Commercial Prototype Burner

The high luminosity burner provides a NO x savings of 65 percent compared with the Primefire 300 burner, a burner that is already considered to have low-NO x characteristics. This large decrease is a result of the method of mixing the majority of natural gas with the precombustion products, the mixing patterns, the flame temperature, and the flame length. A comparison of NO x yields for the two burners is shown in Figure 11. The commercial prototype burner is rated for firing at 300 to 900 kWe (1 x 106 to 3 x 106 Btu/h). This firing rate is typical of many oxy-gas burners used in glass melting tanks. No additional scale-up will be needed for

84000 4.5 % 83000 82000 81000 80000 79000 PF300 78000 HL Block 1 77000 HL
4.5 %
HL Block 1
HL Block 2
P rec o mb usto r
O 2 ,
Tim e-Tube Ave Heat Trans

Figure 11. NO x Production Decrease With Commercial Prototype Burner

immediate industrial installation on many furnaces. The glass industry has adopted oxy-gas firing partly in response to the need to reduce NO x emissions. The significant decrease in NO x provided by the high luminosity burner will offer the glass industry the means to meet and exceed all present and anticipated NO x environmental limits in the United States and in Europe.

Oxy-gas flames in high temperature furnaces such as glass melters tend to have short flames with extremely hot combustion zones. An objective of most oxy-gas burner designs is to spread the flame into a ‘flat’ shape that covers as much of the glass surface as possible. This improves radiant heat transfer to the load, which increases process thermal efficiency. Other advantages of the ‘flat’ flame are more uniform temperatures (which reduces NO x formation and decreases high temperature refractory damage) and a more uniform heat transfer profile (which gives more consistent glass heating).

The commercial prototype high luminosity burner produced a flame significantly brighter and longer than the Primefire 300 burner. At a firing rate of 660 kW e , the two burners generated a flame with the same width, but the high luminosity burner flame was 200 cm (80 in.) in length while the Primefire burner flame was 125 cm (50 in.) in length. Figures 12 and 13 show photographs of the two burners firing at the same rate with the same amount of excess oxygen. The pictures are taken directly in front of the flames to shown the width of the flames and to

front of the fl ames to shown the width of the flames and to Figure 12

Figure 12. Primefire 300 Burner Firing at 660 kW e

and to Figure 12 . Primefire 300 Burner Firing at 660 kW e Figure 13 .

Figure 13. High Luminosity Burner Firing at 660 kW e

indicate the larger size flame from the high luminosity burner. The camera and the exposure time were the same for the two photographs. The water-cooled tubes used as a simulated load are not shown but are located just to the right side of the photographs.

Following this successful demonstration, the high luminosity burner is being installed on two oxy-gas fired glass furnaces for commercial demonstration and evaluation. One furnace is an Owens Corning furnace producing over 100 tonne/day of borosilicate insulting fiberglass. This furnace uses burners sized in the firing range already demonstrated by the development team. The primary concerns for this burner trial are generating the anticipated flame with high luminosity, decreased emissions, and lower fuel consumption and establishing a burner block hot face temperature high enough to avoid sodium borate condensation and attack. Surface pyrometer measurements and modeling results indicate that preheating the natural gas and creating a highly luminous flame will combine to keep all points on the burner block above 1100°C and that block erosion by borate chemical attack will be avoided. This burner trial is currently in progress. Preliminary results are anticipated before the end of 2001.

The second furnace produces over 500 tonne/day of soda-lime flat glass. The burners on this furnace have a higher firing rate of up to 5900 kW e . The high luminosity burner design must be scaled up by a factor of 6 before fabrication and installation. An initial trial of a scaled-up high luminosity burner found that the desired flat flame shape was not created and the flame was moved toward the exhaust port by the product gas cross flow in the furnace. The block and the complete furnace combustion space has been extensively modeled with Fluent CFD. A new burner block has been fabricated based on the results of the first burner trial and the modeling effort. Testing of this large burner is in progress. Operating results are expected to confirm the high heat transfer of this burner providing the furnace operator a means to lower fuel consumption. Results of this trial and the fiberglass furnace trial are also anticipated to demonstrate significantly lower NO x production.

Following successful commercial demonstrations of the high luminosity burner, the project team plans to market this technology to the glass industry through Combustion Tec’s established glass industry sales department. Further development work is anticipated in the application of the high luminosity burner technology to other high temperature industrial furnaces used in waste processing, metals melting, and ceramics production.


The authors appreciate the support for development and testing of the High Luminosity burner provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT), NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), the Gas Research Institute, the GTI Sustaining Membership Program, representatives of Glass Manufacturing Industry Council member companies, who provided valuable insight during technical review meetings of the glass partnership program as the burner was scaled-up from the laboratory to commercial-scale and finally the GTI Combustion Laboratories managed by Mr. Walter Kunc.


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