During the CARD FY2012 funding cycle, a grant was awarded to the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), to demonstrate and deploy an advanced heat recovery technology on a commercial/industrial boiler in the 10 to 50 MMBtu/hour range in Minnesota. The technology, called the Ultramizer®, simultaneously improves boiler efficiency and reduces make-up water consumption by capturing over half of the waste heat and 20-40% of the water vapor in boiler exhaust gases (Figure 1). It features GTI’s nano-porous transport membrane condenser technology that selectively removes pure water from natural gas combustion byproducts (which can be used directly as boiler feedwater) and is licensed to Cannon Boiler Works. Based on laboratory and field data, the Ultramizer® has the potential to raise overall boiler efficiency from as low as 78% to over 90%.
Figure 1. Ultramizer® System shown on a Fire Tube Boiler (graphic courtesy of Cannon Boiler Works)
This CARD project was conducted in two phases. Phase 1, which has just been completed, was a market assessment of the potential for the Ultramizer® technology in Minnesota’s installed base of boilers. Results of Phase 1 estimate a total technical potential for the technology of about 200 boilers in the target size range with savings estimated from 15-20%, plus roughly 325 additional boilers with a savings potential of 8-12%.
In terms of the economic potential, the most economically attractive boilers are ones that require larger volumes of make-up water (in other words industries in which boiler water or steam is “used” up in the industrial processes so that it can’t be recycled for use in the boiler). While specifics were hard to pin down, indications are that Minnesota has a number of industries which use boilers that would have larger make-up water requirements. For instance, a 2008 MnTAP Industrial Sector Market Analysis CARD report (.pdf) identified 178 food processors, 126 chemical manufacturers, 49 industrial drying companies, and 39 paper and pulp industries in Minnesota, industries that have been recognized as good targets for the Ultramizer®. GTI estimated achievable potential (assuming a 10% penetration rate for likely candidates) in the range of 450 – 560 billion Btu annually.
Phase 2 of the project, which has just begun, will be the installation of the technology in a test site within the service territory of CenterPoint Energy, the utility partner on the project. Once installed, the site will be monitored to determine installation and operation issues as well to measure savings. Three possible host sites have been identified by GTI and they are in the final stages of the selection process. Results of Phase 2 are expected in April 2015. For more information contact the Division of Energy Resources’ project manager, Mary Sue Lobenstein.