A steam boiler is one of the types of machinery that are not only efficient but also a piece of reliable equipment. Almost every business in each industry uses a steam boiler. Even though most people are not that aware of their importance, they play a vital role in almost every product and service that we benefit from.
Usually, the initial reaction of people who hear the term ‘steam boiler’ would be, equipment that produces hot water or steam. And, they’re correct. But, if people knew how much steam boilers are utilised aside from steam production, they’d be surprised.
One thing to know is that there are different types of steam boilers. All types produce the same work, but each of them has a different feature. These features allow them to perform different actions that are needed in different industries. The different performance levels of each boiler type make them the ideal boiler needed for a certain task.
A lot of different steam boiler types exist. But, to get you started, let’s get to know the two main types and how they are utilised in work operations.
A fire-tube boiler is one of the oldest types of steam boiler. Fire-tube boilers are known for their simple working design compared to other steam boiler types available today. The fire-tube was introduced in the 18th century, where it was popularised for being used in steam locomotive engines.
Fire-tube boilers produce steam through their pipes. Gases flow through the pipes with the drum filled with water. Through this procedure, the heat of the gas passes through the water, which then produces steam. This working principle is appealing to a lot of businesses because it is easy to operate.
Compared to other types, fire-tubes are cheaper and simpler. This type flexibly produces the right amount of heat and pressure needed in most businesses. In terms of size, fire-tubes have a big drum size that takes up a lot of floor area.
Fire-tube boilers are used for different reasons. That’s why there are different types of fire-tube boilers available and designed for specific use. Some of the fire-tube types are:
- Horizontal tubular fire-tube
- Vertical fire-tube
- Immersion fire-tube
- Locomotive fire-tube
- Cornish fire-tube
These are just some of the fire-tube types that are used in different industries. Each has a different use and purpose that makes it efficient and reliable.
Strong points of fire-tube boiler
There are a lot of great things about fire-tube boilers. Due to its simplicity, businesses prefer to invest in fire-tubes. Especially small businesses that are just starting. Since fire-tubes are more affordable than other steam boiler types, they are perfect for small businesses and residential use as well.
Aside from that, they are also easy to install. One of the main uses of fire-tubes is to heat buildings. During winter, small to medium-sized properties need boilers to produce warm temperatures. Most likely, if a property is not using an electric heater, it is likely that they are using a fire-tube boiler.
In some industrial works, fire-tube boilers are utilised for thermal conduction. For work processes that need heat for material production, fire-tubes are also used. Typically, factories would use water-tubes because they are capable of producing higher temperatures. But for other processes that require just enough heat, fire-tube boilers are efficient enough to produce the right temperature.
Water-tube boiler is often compared to fire-tube boiler. Years later, after the introduction of fire-tube boilers, people invented the water-tube boiler. This steam boiler type is exactly the opposite of how a fire-tube works.
If in a fire-tube, the gas passes through the pipes, and the water is filled in the drum, it is the other way around with water-tube boilers. In a water-tube boiler, the water is heated inside the tubes. The hot gases surround the tubes, heating the water to produce steam.
Water-tubes are known as the boiler type that are capable of producing higher temperatures and higher pressures. Unlike a fire-tube, a water-tube is capable of controlling the pressure that it can produce. Hence, coined as the “self-controlled machine.”
The way water-tube boilers are constructed is quite simple. It contains two drums that hold water. Once it is operated, the water passes through the tubes, and the hot gases start to surround it. Some of the water-tube boiler types that are used in different businesses are the following:
- Horizontal Straight Tube
- Simple Vertical
- Stirling Boiler
These different water-tube types all have a similar construction of 2 drums that hold the water. They only differ in performance and power capacity.
Strong points of water-tube boiler
Water-tubes are very efficient in terms of work production. Aside from it being easy and safe to operate, water-tube boilers can produce steam quickly. Compared to fire-tube boilers, water-tubes can be easily transported. Thanks to their size and design, they don’t take up a lot of floor area.
Water-tubes are usually used for chemical and materials production in huge factories. Due to their capability of producing and tolerating high steam pressures, they are well utilised for chemical processing. Water-tube boilers are more commonly used in process industries compared to fire-tube boilers.
Aside from chemical processes, they are widely used in pulp and paper manufacturing. In refinery processes, water-tube boilers play a very important role. Water-tubes work well in transmitting heat. They are an economiser that has a 90% performance efficiency.
Both steam boiler types are efficient as long as you use them for the right workload accordingly
Both the fire-tube and water-tube boilers are efficient and work well as long as they are used accordingly. Some businesses have a hard time with their boilers because they overuse or underuse them for the wrong workload.
If you purchase a steam boiler for chemical purposes, you will likely need a water-tube. If the reason you’re buying a boiler is for heat purposes, a fire-tube could work well for your temperature requirements.
Remember, for you to utilise and maximise your steam boiler, purchase one that can meet your work demands. That way, you won’t have to spend unnecessary expenses on repairs and adjustments just so the wrong boiler type can work for your needs.