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Cost-effective High-efficiency Smart Steam Boiler of Low Emission technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ECOVAPOR (Cost-effective High-efficiency Smart Steam Boiler of Low Emission technology)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-09-30

The EU 2050 Energy Roadmap confirms that electricity and gas prices are expected to continue to rise and to drive energy costs, affecting retail costs and prices for consumers (households and industry). As for industry, retail electricity prices rose by 3.5% per year in the period 2008-2012 (up to ca. 12ct€/kWh). Gas prices rose by less than 1% a year over the same period to ca. 4.6ct€/kWh. In this context, the generation of steam (100-500 °C) in boilers for industrial process heat uses consumed in 2012 about 720TWh (22% of the EU ́s total final energy demand in industry). In addition, steam boilers based on fossil fuels including coal, oil, and natural gas are still most commonly used (73% of all boilers) being by far the combustion of fossil fuels the dominant source of NOx emissions, directly linked to severe effects on human health. Given that energy cost rises are hitting industry, in combination with the high share of energy consumed for industrial process heat uses, and the need to reduce NOx pollutant emissions (60% reduction target in 2020 compared with the year 2000), should be the appropriate framework for attracting investment in the steam boiler market.
ECOVAPOR will make steam production a very cost-effective (ca. 30-50% cheaper than typical “scotch or shell type” 3- pass boilers of low NOx emissions), energy-efficient (up to 95% overall since a low-priced economizer is integrated into the boiler), smart (custom-designed based on specific needs for the industry which operates at different powers within a large modulation range 5-100%), and environmentally friendly (only 70mgNOx/kWh emissions able to comply with the most stringent regulations) to appeal to market segments that want to foster the uptake of new steam- generating technologies to reduce energy bills, optimize energy consumption, and reduce NOx emissions.
During the first period the following main activities have been carried out:
• Definition of functional requirements and needs of the target process plants that use thermal energy. This step enabled the design and construction of the e-term main board and display boards.
• Development of the basic software functionalities that allowed to collect data, control the burner and boiler, as well as to analyze the data for diagnostic and human machine interface.
• Scale-up of the steam boiler design that allowed to obtain the following key results:
- Design of head burner range and realization of the prototypes to use in ICI laboratories.
- Selection and specification of components of the head burner
- Definition of the welding technology, machines and test procedures
- Design of the components of the boiler of the complete range and scale up of the prototype from 350 to 1000 kg/h.
- Laboratory test to confirm the previous design components.

During the first period, we also started tests on connectivity and data collection by installing the e-term® PCB control electronics in AIDISA’s boiler room (in Calahorra, Spain).
The activities related to the industrialization will start in the second reporting period, however some specific activities were anticipated by implementing the industrialization procedures to obtain the front door of the boiler and the industrialization of welding of head burner.
In addition, some specific procedures related to the manufacturing management were implemented, obtaining the following results:
• Editing of the Bill of Materials and the new needs
• Rationalization of components
• Identification of the test procedure to be implemented in the main board.

A significant effort has been also done in pre-commercialization, dissemination and exploitation of the innovation that we want to introduce (e.g. project website, workshops involving the customers and influencers).
The boilers available from the main EU producers are classified as firetube boilers or watertube boilers. By comparing these two boiler technologies, we come to the conclusion that they are used for different applications not competing with each other in any given characteristic (i.e. design, thermal capacity, pressure, temperature, efficiency, energy consumption, price, etc.) or any given market (small-to-medium capacity applications vs. large ones).
In addition, combustion boilers include burners, which maintain ignition and combustion of fuel within the furnace. Burners used in boilers are generally divided in pre-mix burners and diffusive burners depending on where the mixing between air and fuel occurs. For our ECOVAPOR solution we have selected a pre-mix burner based on the inward flame novel design giving the boiler a large modulation range (5-100% output power), with an intake self-regulated system capable of mixing air/gas in the optimal ratio before blowing inside the burner. This permits extremely low values of polluting exhaust emissions, and two or more independent air/gas supplies firing in the same burner cylinder allowing optimization of energy end-use efficiency and reduction of maintenance time and costs.
Our ECOVAPOR technology offers our end-users ca. 16-62% potential energy savings at a competitive cost (ca. 30-50% cheaper than typical 3-pass firetube boilers of low NOx emissions) along with optimal energy efficiency (ca. 95%) and environmental performance (<80 mgNOx/kWh emissions) that no other existing steam boiler in the market offers. In addition, thanks to the rapid and easy data collection, customers of ECOVAPOR will benefit from a steam boiler custom-designed on specific needs of their industry at a very competitive cost.

For the consortium, the ECOVAPOR market launch will create about 25 to 40 new jobs and we plan to penetrate initially the EU F&B industry by 2018, and after other industries starting from 2019 (i.e. textile, tanning, chemical, and pharmaceutical) in EU and non-EU countries through our current sales force. For that, we will rely on our client’s portfolio for: new installations, retrofit of existing ICI boilers (Sixen line), and replacement of old-technology boilers (reverse flame) of high pollutant emissions.
Lastly, we plan to reach the US and Canada in 2020 where low NOx emissions are controlled and high imports are expected.

The ECOVAPOR market application will be on F&B industry first targeting these two key market applications:
1) Food & Beverage processing: are highly thermal energy intensive consumers (ca. 20-50% of the total energy used) typically utilizing two grades of steam; 1) plant or industrial steam, and 2) filtered steam, plant steam that has passed through a fine stainless steel filter (5μm pore size), to be used directly in contact with food avoiding changes in taste, texture, colour, and appearance of the food product (e.g. drying, toasting, extrusion, pasteurisation, brewing, evaporation, etc.) and open packaging in a wide range of industries (i.e. industrial bakeries, meat products, fisheries, beverage industry, baby food & pet food processing, and dairy products). 

2) Clean-in-place (CIP) processes: are time intensive and waste large amounts of energy (ca.10-26%of the total energy consumption) that varies depending on the process (such as disinfection and dry of; production rooms, refrigeration chambers, containers, work tables, saws and other equipment) and uses filtered steam in case of surfaces in direct contact with food.