You are likely pretty familiar with the traditional function of a boiler in both an industrial and a residential setting. Boilers are common, necessary pieces of equipment and chances are, if you are in a large commercial or industrial facility, there is a powerful boiler that helps to keep your operations running. However, industrial boilers also do important work in some other unexpected ways. In this article, we’ll describe the traditional uses for boilers, as well as some of the more unique ways that boilers help support the function of major businesses and facilities across the globe. You’ll probably discover an even greater appreciation for what your boiler is capable of!
Traditional Boiler Uses: Home and Residential Heat Generation
The most common function for any boiler, whether it is an industrial or residential boiler, is to serve as the central heating mechanism for a home, business facility, hospital, commercial complex, etc. No matter what setting they are used in, boilers operate with the same basic functions and mechanisms that work together to create a contained, heat-generating combustion process.
Boilers draw natural gas from gas lines running through our streets and use this gas to fuel the combustion process for heat creation and distribution throughout a building. The boiler system relies on a burner to initiate the combustion process, and then heat in the form of steam or hot water moves through the system using pumps, radiators, and heat exchangers.
Additional controls are available in order to customize a boiler’s operations, enhance safety, and specialize your boiler according to its usage. Different businesses have different boiler needs, and even a traditional boiler can be adapted and improved upon in consultation with a boiler service firm. Experienced technicians can advise on what types of controls and adaptations will be most beneficial for your company.
Boiler manufacturers are making use of rapidly improving technology to build equipment that is cost efficient, environmentally friendly, and powerful. The variety and quality of industrial boilers available for purchase and for rent has never been better, so if you are looking for an industrial boiler you’ll benefit from a wide range of choices to serve your business well for years to come.
Nontraditional Boiler Uses: Beyond Heating
Even when the essential process remains the same, new environmental and cost-saving initiatives among leading businesses have resulted in new boiler uses and adaptations of the way boilers are traditionally used. From theme parks to skyscrapers and multi-million dollar corporations, countless businesses rely on boilers to maintain some aspect of their daily operations. With new technology improving boilers every day, we are sure to see more amazing ways to put boilers to work in a variety of innovative settings.
Disney: Boilers and Sustainability in One of America’s Most Beloved Resorts
The iconic Disneyland and California Adventure Theme Parks bring in over 8.7 million visitors a year-that’s about 24,000 visitors a day! In recent years, the resorts have considered ways to create and enact sustainable tourism in their parks which would allow visitors to enjoy their visits while remaining environmentally friendly by avoiding environmental, economic, and cultural damage. Spread over 500 acres, these parks faced a major challenge in figuring out how they could become sustainable destinations without compromising their offerings for visitors, locals, and employees.
Disney has had a long history of adopting environmentally friendly processes, and boilers have now come to play a big part in that process. There are five railroad trains that circle the property, all of which now use a soy-based biodiesel fuel to power the steam boilers that make them run. Relying on recycled feed water is another way that the resort has tailored their boiler processes to be more environmentally friendly: the porous asphalt at the Disneyland property allows for collection and recycling of rainwater to use in the system. These inventive boiler practices are inspiring and point to just how adaptable and innovative boiler uses can be.
Boiler Uses in Aquariums
Aquariums are another hugely popular entertainment source that also rely on boilers to power their operations. With many tanks to keep up and operate, water conditions and temperatures must be carefully regulated and maintained in order to protect the variety of species housed in a single aquarium. Human-centered areas must also be heated, and in order to achieve their missions of sustainable tourism, some aquariums are turning to gas powered boilers to regulate both, with heat exchangers regulating freshwater and saltwater tanks. Boilers here are used for more than just heating and cooling—boiler pumps provide water currents and water surges, which create a more ocean-like environment and lend a degree of authenticity to the aquarium waters.
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, vintage Hoven Cannery boilers have a place in the lobby, referencing the area’s heritage as a former sardine cannery capital. These boilers are massive and formidable, and they helped generate the energy required to keep Cannery Row, one of the busiest fisheries in the state, running. By incorporating historic boilers in the aquarium at Monterey Bay, visitors are encouraged to understand just how important boilers have been to the area’s past, present, and future.
Running the Biggest Buildings in the World
If you’ve ever spent any time looking at a skyscraper, you’ve likely been amazed at its impressive scale. But with all of that space comes some serious heating and maintenance needs. One of the most impressive boiler uses includes heating skyscrapers efficiently and effectively. These buildings are so massive that some of them use up to five industrial level boilers at once in order to meet their heating needs. For the sake of comparison, one industrial boiler generates power equal to five hundred Volkswagen Golf automobiles running at full power at the same time! When all of these boilers are used at once, their total power isn’t the only impressive thing about them-their total size can add up to a whopping 165 tons. These giant boilers work together to warm some of the largest buildings in the country, and in the process they convert up to 3,000 liters of fuel oil every hour-enough fuel oil to heat about 2,000 houses.
Large buildings rely heavily on water or steam as a form of heat for many reasons. The above-mentioned scale and power of boiler heat is one of them. But another important reason is that water and steam are easy to transport, which is an important variable to consider for structures with incredibly high verticals. The boilers used in skyscrapers tend to rely on a three-pass shell model. Because they have such large heating and power capacities, they also have a tremendous volume of water and flue gases that need to be redirected to flow through the system effectively.
You may never have realized when taking a sip of your favorite beer that the brewery that produces it also relies on the same core technology and equipment that is used to heat other more traditional industrial and commercial spaces. Craft breweries are finding uses for boilers and now depend on them to create their products.
Batches of craft beer are brewed in large kettles and breweries use steam boilers for the kettles and to create hot water for sanitization purposes. When the brewing cycle is over, hot water is required to sanitize the brewing tanks. When it comes down to setting up a financially viable brewery, finding the right boiler is one of the most important decisions a craft brewery can make.
In terms of brewery-specific innovations, one of the most interesting ways we’ve heard about is the Alaskan Brewing Company method. Based in Juneau, Alaskan Brewing Company set out to make award-winning beers while still respecting the environment. In order to do that, they set out to brew beer using beer as fuel. By investing in a mash filter press, the brewery can use spent grain in lieu of traditional fuel, saving money on their operations and offering an incredibly efficient and environmentally-sound way to repurpose product that would otherwise be considered waste. The brewery estimates that by using spent grain as fuel, they will save over 1.5 million gallons of oil over a ten-year period.
Traditional Boilers Put to Use in New Environments
Nippon Paper Industries USA is based in the Pacific Northwest. The company has recently embarked on a new project to install a traditional boiler in their plant in Port Angeles, Washington, where they make phonebooks. While the boiler is a powerful one, and can generate up to 225,000 pounds per hour of steam at 900 psi, the plant won’t use the boiler for its heating capabilities. Instead, the plant will use their industrial steam boiler to power turbines that will create electricity. This power will then be extracted at lower pressures in order to be used for drying paper at the plant. The boiler will generate up to 20 MW of electric energy in order to be used in this paper production process, which will increase the overall thermal efficiency.
Another key aspect of this boiler system is that it includes a taller furnace, which allows for more time to complete the combustion process before the fuel enters into the steam generation process. Combined with state of the art pollution-control technology, Nippon Paper has created a specialized system out of a traditional technology that helps represent their company’s values and is tailored to their needs. So, if you’ve ever thought that a boiler wasn’t necessary for your company’s operations, you may want to reconsider.
Manley’s Boiler: Your California Boiler Experts
If all of these innovative boiler uses have made you curious about your options, or you need a reliable, energy-efficient, or environmentally-friendly boiler, give the team at Manley’s Boiler a call. We rent and sell boilers, and we are happy to provide an in-depth consultation in order to discuss your boiler needs. We will work hard to get to know your company, install your boiler quickly and carefully, and train your entire staff on the best ways to operate your new equipment.
Our staff is knowledgable, professional, and gets every job done right. We will leverage our extensive boiler knowledge to help you and your company make the best decision about the kind of equipment that is best for you. We also offer round the clock emergency response service, as well as AQMD protocol inspection, annual maintenance, repairs, and parts replacements. Our team will always have your back.