Boiler control: How to optimize boiler loads and save money

Optimal control of combustion air is essential for efficient performance of boilers or heaters.

By Ven V. Venkatesan

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Boilers and heaters account for a significant share of a plant's purchased fuel cost. Combustion air fans are necessary to provide enough combustion air to the boiler or heater's burner system. Louvers, inlet guide vanes or variable speed drives control the amount of air allowed into a boiler. Configuring a combustion air fan to allow the proper amount of air into the burner can improve boiler efficiency, yielding energy savings and better system reliability. In this case study, a nitrogen-based fertilizer plant saved more than $420,000 annually by optimizing its steam system cost.

PCS Nitrogen is the U.S. subsidiary of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, Inc., a major producer of three agricultural fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphate and potash. PCS Nitrogen's Augusta, Ga., plant is the largest producer of nitrogen-based chemical and fertilizer products in the eastern United States. This highly integrated manufacturing site uses natural gas to manufacture a range of intermediate and end-user products.

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