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Boilers are one of the most essential systems of a plant or refinery. They are virtually the pieces of equipment that help keep things running. They represent a significant capital investment for any company. However, boilers are one of the aspects of the plants that are least discussed as industries focus more of their attention on the cost of fuel and raw materials that are coming in as well as the quantity and quality of their actual product output. This is why boiler training is so vital.
A boiler is a closed piece of equipment in which water is heated and converted into steam. If it’s not used to boil the water, the term furnace is usually used. For the water to be converted into steam, chemical energy from a fuel source such as gas or oil is combusted and converted into heat.
The heat is then transferred to the contained water where it increases the pressure and converts the fluid into steam. The steam exits the boiler for application in different processes or heating applications, including central heating, sanitation, water-heating, and boiler-based power generation.
Boilers are designed in a manner that allows the transfer of the maximum amount of heat possible from the combustion into the water using processes such as convection, conduction, and radiation. The efficiency of the heat transfer is very crucial in ensuring that the fuel burned yields the maximum, most cost-effective outcomes. Also, the boiler should be designed to generate high-quality steam that can be directly and effectively used by the plant.
The steam produced by boilers can be used in a variety of applications depending on what the needs of the plant are. But for the most part, the steam produced will serve one of the following functions:
Production: The steam may be used to play a direct role in the actual production of the product by sterilization or to help achieve the temperatures needed to process products.
Fuel: In most cases, the steam produced by boilers is used to power turbines for electric generating pumps, blowers, and equipment.
Conditioning: the steam may also be used to power industrial heating and air conditioning units. This may be done to keep equipment at proper operating temperatures, for personal worker comfort, or both.
Catastrophic failures that exist in the boiler itself include:
Thermal shock: This is a situation that involves low water causing the surface to overheat. And when cool water is added, it flashes to steam which expands 1500 times its volume and causes an explosion because of the lack of enough room for the steam to expand.
Melt Down: When the boiler is operating on very low water conditions, the heating surface might reach its melting point. This by itself will not cause an explosion, but it severely damages the boiler and create a dangerous condition that may instigate an explosion.
Combustion explosions: Buildup of gases from leakages can ignite in the presence of an ignition source. This can occur either inside or outside the boiler if the safety devices such as valves are not safely operated or checked.
Steam Pressure: This occurs when the boiler has excessive steam build up that exceeds the level that the vessel is designed to handle.
All these accidents can be avoided with safety training, and proper care and maintenance. A checklist should be used during inspection to avoid catastrophic boiler accidents.
Being such an integral part of industrial operations, boilers should be kept in proper working shape at all times. Planned refurbishment and regularly scheduled maintenance are two proactive ways to make sure that boilers do not experience unexpected and prolonged downtime. Routine inspections play a critical role in improving the safety of the boiler unit for its operators and the building as a whole.
Being able to service and maintain your boiler is one thing and being able to do it safely is another. Safety training is designed to help employees be safe when repairing, maintaining, or utilizing the boiler system.
Employees will learn the basics of boiler operations, understand the major perils associated with boilers, troubleshoot boiler problems, implement preventive maintenance practices, operate the boiler at safe and proper temperatures and pressures, dangers of low water conditions, conduct efficiency tests, and much more.
After training, you’ll be able to reduce the need for outside service contractors, get maximum mileage out of your boilers and at the same time increase the comfort and confidence level in operating your own boilers in a safe manner.
If you’re an employer who operates on or near commercial or industrial boiler systems, consider expanding the knowledge that your employees have by enrolling them for the NTT Training’s seminar on Boilers: Technical & Operational Training. Contact us today with any questions or to set up your seminar.
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