Too Long; Didn't Read
The selection of steam boilers is a matter to which the most careful thought and attention may be well given. Within the last twenty years, radical changes have taken place in the methods and appliances for the generation and distribution of power. These changes have been made largely in the prime movers, both as to type and size, and are best illustrated by the changes in central station power-plant practice. It is hardly within the scope of this work to treat of power-plant design and the discussion will be limited to a consideration of the boiler end of the power plant.
As stated, the changes have been largely in prime movers, the steam generating equipment having been considered more or less of a standard piece of apparatus whose sole function is the transfer of the heat liberated from the fuel by combustion to the steam stored or circulated in such apparatus. When the fact is considered that the cost of steam generation is roughly from 65 to 80 per cent of the total cost of power production, it may be readily understood that the most fruitful field for improvement exists in the boiler end of the power plant. The efficiency of the plant as a whole will vary with the load it carries and it is in the boiler room where such variation is largest and most subject to control.
The improvements to be secured in the boiler room results are not simply a matter of dictation of operating methods. The securing of perfect combustion, with the accompanying efficiency of heat transfer, while comparatively simple in theory, is difficult to obtain in practical operation. This fact is perhaps best exemplified by the difference between test results and those obtained in daily operation even under the most careful supervision. This difference makes it necessary to establish a standard by which operating results may be judged, a standard not necessarily that which might be possible under test conditions but one which experiment shows can be secured under the very best operating conditions.
The study of the theory of combustion, draft, etc., as already given, will indicate that the question of efficiency is largely a matter of proper relation between fuel, furnace and generator. While the possibility of a substantial saving through added efficiency cannot be overlooked, the boiler design of the future must, even more than in the past, be considered particularly from the aspect of reliability and simplicity. A flexibility of operation is necessary as a guarantee of continuity of service.