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Two of the most important operating factors entering into the consideration of what constitutes a satisfactory boiler are its efficiency and capacity. The relation of these factors to one another will be considered later under the selection of boilers with reference to the work they are to accomplish. The present chapter deals with the efficiency and capacity only with a view to making clear exactly what is meant by these terms as applied to steam generating apparatus, together with the methods of determining these factors by tests.
Efficiency—The term “efficiency”, specifically applied to a steam boiler, is the ratio of heat absorbed by the boiler in the generation of steam to the total amount of heat available in the medium utilized in securing such generation. When this medium is a solid fuel, such as coal, it is impossible to secure the complete combustion of the total amount fed to the boiler. A portion is bound to drop through the grates where it becomes mixed with the ash and, remaining unburned, produces no heat. Obviously, it is unfair to charge the boiler with the failure to absorb the portion of available heat in the fuel that is wasted in this way. On the other hand, the boiler user must pay for such waste and is justified in charging it against the combined boiler and furnace. Due to this fact, the efficiency of a boiler, as ordinarily stated, is in reality the combined efficiency of the boiler, furnace and grate, and
The efficiency will be the same whether based on dry fuel or on fuel as fired, including its content of moisture. For example: If the coal contained 3 per cent of moisture, the efficiency would be
where 0.97 cancels and the formula becomes (31).
The heat supplied to the boiler is due to the combustible portion of fuel which is actually burned, irrespective of what proportion of the total combustible fired may be. This fact has led to the use of a second efficiency basis on combustible and which is called the efficiency of boiler and furnace, namely,
The efficiency so determined is used in comparing the relative performance of boilers, irrespective of the type of grates used under them. If the loss of fuel through the grates could be entirely overcome, the efficiencies obtained by (31) and (32) would obviously be the same. Hence, in the case of liquid and gaseous fuels, where there is practically no waste, these efficiencies are almost identical.