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Leveraging Natural Gas: Technical Considerations for the Conversion of Existing Coal-Fired Boilers

[+] Author Affiliations
Jason C. Lee

Babcock Power Services Inc., Worcester, MA

Michael Coyle

Riley Power Inc., Worcester, MA

Paper No. POWER2014-32272, pp. V001T05A008; 9 pages
  • ASME 2014 Power Conference
  • Volume 1: Fuels and Combustion, Material Handling, Emissions; Steam Generators; Heat Exchangers and Cooling Systems; Turbines, Generators and Auxiliaries; Plant Operations and Maintenance; Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM); Plant Systems, Structures, Components and Materials Issues
  • Baltimore, Maryland, USA, July 28–31, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Power Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4608-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


With availability of natural gas at competitive prices and increased scrutiny of coal-fired generation, conversion of coal-fired units to natural gas-firing is a popular option to consider as an alternative to capital-intense environmental equipment upgrades or even retirement. Many owners are considering this option as a way to keep an existing plant open while meeting new and pending environmental regulations. There are many technical challenges associated with such a conversion and the owner should consider them all carefully on a case-by-case basis. This paper will present an overview of these challenges, with a focus on the steam generator and what an owner/operator needs to understand when considering conversion to natural gas-firing.

Typical effects of a conversion to natural gas-firing for a utility-scale coal-fired steam generator are discussed along with potential operational effects of such a project. A general discussion of differences in furnace and convective pass performance characteristics for the different fuels is presented along with a discussion of how these differences can translate to technical challenges in a conversion project. Typical effects on boiler efficiency and emissions as well as the most commonly required modifications are reviewed. Finally, a comprehensive review of the operational affects of the converted unit is presented.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Boilers , Coal , Natural gas



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