Green boiler project heats up Capstone Award competition

14, Sep, 2021

EDMONTON, Sept. 14, 2021 – A former team of SAIT electrical engineering technology students innovated a way to retrofit an industrial boiler to be more cost-effective and energy-efficient so that it’s less of a contributor to global warming. For their efforts, the team has been honoured as a finalist for the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta’s (ASET) Capstone Project of the Year Award.

The two-member team of David Kaytor and Jason Single discovered that you don’t have to throw the boiler out with the bathwater when it ages out of the system. Instead, you can make what’s old new again, saving the owner or company a substantial amount of money.

Industrial boilers are used to produce steam or heat process water for various industrial applications. For example, hot water from industrial boilers is essential in the manufacturing of paper from pulp in the pulp and paper industry.

The emissions of classic industrial boilers don’t meet today’s standards. In the team’s redesign plan for this kind of boiler, they were able to maximize its efficiency so that its performance would be similar to that of a contemporary boiler.

The team improved it by introducing a modulating gas control valve, variable speed water pump, and variable speed flue gas fan. These changes converted the outdated on/off, low/high system into a more modern, fine-tuned PID loop system, reducing the amount of wasted energy of a classic boiler design and lowering fuel consumption.

The team was further able to bring the boiler into the current decade by adding an emissions monitoring system in the flue gas (exhaust) to monitor several types of emitted gasses, including CO2, CO, NOx and O2. The level of these gasses can be optimized by varying the fuel and combustion air rates. As a result, ideal values of excess air (O2) and minimal values of CO could be achieved.

According to findings from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the type of upgrades the team made to the boiler could potentially yield an efficiency increase of as much as 21 per cent. Classic older boilers operate with an efficiency of 55 to 60 per cent while new boilers operate at 90 per cent.

In the United States, the energy consumption of industrial boilers accounts for 37 per cent of total energy use in the industrial sector. In industrialized countries, more than half of industrial boilers utilize natural gas as the primary fuel, and more than three-quarters of the total boiler population is older than 30 years.

“A new boiler installation could cost more than a million dollars,” said Kaytor. “The upgrades we designed cost a fraction of that value, closer to $100,000 to $200,000.”

“This ASET Capstone Project of the Year Award finalist aptly embodies the green values consistently advanced by the new generation of engineering technologists graduating from our province’s polytechnics and colleges,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “With this forward-thinking approach adopted by so many of these young people in their projects, the future of our province and planet could be said to be in caring, conscientious and technologically savvy hands.”

The former SAIT team’s project is one of seven finalists named by ASET for the Capstone Project of the Year Award. The winning project will be announced in late autumn this year.

About ASET
In addition to handing out the Capstone Project of the Year Award to deserving engineering technology students, the ASET Education and Scholarship Foundation provides scholarships, bursaries and educational funding to enhance and support the education of students pursuing engineering technology studies.

ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.

Media Contact:
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET


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