While coal appears to be the more cost-effective boiler fuel option, there are a number of overlooked benefits of natural gas, which must be considered in cost calculations
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The benefits of natural gas as fuel for boilers in industrial processes are too often overlooked by companies who continue to favour traditional coal-fired boilers, which they erroneously believe to be a more cost-effective option, says oil, gas boiler and burner specialist Combustion Technology MD Grant Renecle.
“The natural gas boiler and burner industry is still fighting to gain a foothold in the South African market, as many prospective clients have been brainwashed into believing that the comparatively higher cost of natural gas prohibits a change from coal – but this is not entirely true.”
He explains that, generally speaking, the proponents of coal-fired plants take the energy cost of coal and directly relate that to the price of natural gas without accurately accounting for the other operating expenses that affect the overall running costs of the boiler. As a result, coal tends to appear to be the more cost-effective fuel option.
“However, there are a number of overlooked benefits of natural gas, which must be considered in cost calculations,” says Renecle. These include a significant reduction in electrical absorbed power, better steam quality – and, consequently, an improved production capacity – and a higher efficiency rate, with coal boilers averaging only a 65% efficiency rate in comparison with the 98% rate of natural gas boilers.
To achieve these benefits, Renecle stresses that boiler users must consult with experienced companies, like Combustion Technology, which have the technology and expertise to help clients achieve a cost saving of between 8% and 12% using natural gas boilers.
A move to natural gas will, moreover, help companies to meet SANS 329 regulations, which delineate the safety standards for industrial thermo processing equipment in South Africa. “In our experience, companies have tended to see this as an unnecessary evil; however, safety in itself is imperative, and it is also linked to improved operating efficiency. The benefits of complying are, thus, clear and we can help companies to achieve this using natural gas.”
Products on Offer
Since natural gas was first introduced to the South African market as an alternate fuel for boilers in 2003, Combustion Technology has been supplying a range of modern boilers and burners to meet customer needs.
Renecle highlights that the company’s Autoflame Combustion Controls and Limpsfield Burners have continuously evolved to offer the highest performance capabilities, with the latter even offering a money-back guarantee on its emissions performance. Combustion Technology guarantees less than 3% oxygen emissions and less than 10 parts per million carbon dioxide throughout the firing range of the Limpsfield Burner. “To our knowledge, no other burner supplier globally offers this guarantee and we have never been tasked to repay any client.”
Meanwhile, the Autoflame Management System controls every aspect of a boiler or burner’s operation.
“To date, all clients who have used these products have reported complete satisfaction and recommend them without any hesitation,” concludes Renecle.