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Title: Fuel-Flexible Combustion System for Refinery and Chemical Plant Process Heaters

This project culminated in the demonstration of a full-scale industrial burner which allows a broad range of “opportunity” gaseous fuels to be cost-effectively and efficiently utilized while generating minimal emissions of criteria air pollutants. The burner is capable of maintaining a stable flame when the fuel composition changes rapidly. This enhanced stability will contribute significantly to improving the safety and reliability of burner operation in manufacturing sites. Process heating in the refining and chemicals sectors is the primary application for this burner. The refining and chemical sectors account for more than 40% of total industrial natural gas use. Prior to the completion of this project, an enabling technology did not exist that would allow these energy-intensive industries to take full advantage of opportunity fuels and thereby reduce their natural gas consumption. Opportunity gaseous fuels include biogas (from animal and agricultural wastes, wastewater plants, and landfills) as well as syngas (from the gasification of biomass, municipal solid wastes, construction wastes, and refinery residuals). The primary challenge to using gaseous opportunity fuels is that their composition and combustion performance differ significantly from those of conventional fuels such as natural gas and refinery fuel gas. An effective fuel-flexible burner must accept fuels thatmore » range widely in quality and change in composition over time, often rapidly. In Phase 1 of this project, the team applied computational fluid dynamics analysis to optimize the prototype burner’s aerodynamic, combustion, heat transfer, and emissions performance. In Phase 2, full-scale testing and refinement of two prototype burners were conducted in test furnaces at Zeeco’s offices in Broken Arrow, OK. These tests demonstrated that the full range of conventional and opportunity fuels could be utilized by the project’s burner while achieving robust flame stability and very low levels of air pollutant emissions. In Phase 3, the team retrofitted three fuel-flexible burners into a fired heater at a Shell plant and demonstrated the project’s technology over a 6-month period. The project burners performed well during this period. They remain in commercial service at the Shell plant. Through this work, an improved understanding of flame stabilization mechanisms was gained. Also, methods for accommodating a wide range of fuel compositions were developed. This knowledge facilitated the commercialization of a new generation of burners that are suitable for the fuels of the future.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Environ Holdings, Incorporated
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States