On the boil

The latest technology and trends on the international front


We look at some of the latest technological trends and developments on the international boiler and water heater front

Boiler manufacturers are looking at reducing harmful emissions, as well as reducing energy costs for end users by increasing efficiencies, or even looking at new fuel types.

Fulton of the US was recently awarded a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to develop an ultra-high efficiency condensing natural gas/B-100 biodiesel-fired version of its Vantage boiler.

“We see biofuels as a premiere energy source people for the future if, in fact, petroleum type fuels are no longer available or become expensive or difficult to obtain,” says Fulton Heating Solutions Inc. commercial heating product manager Erin Sperry.


The biodiesel-fired version of the Vantage boiler will take advantage of the unique features of sulphur-free fuel, while achieving ultra-high efficiencies. Such an innovation stands to fill an important technological niche in the boiler market. While gas-fired condensing boilers can provide efficiencies over 89 AFUE, most conventional oil-fired boilers are limited to operating at lower efficiencies due to the corrosive nature of the sulphur content of the fuels. Unlike most fuel oils, biodiesel, which is derived from vegetable oil, is non-toxic, biodegradable, sulphur-free and, when burned, releases less harmful pollutants into the atmosphere.


“There are no commercial-size boilers on the market that can condense on No. 2 oil because of the sulphuric acid production associated with the combustion process,” says Sperry. “If it is not possible to produce flue gas condensate, it is not possible to get the highest efficiencies from operating the boilers.

The ability to condense on an oil that would not result in sulphuric acid production leads to being able to have ultra-high-efficiency condensing boilers with more than just gas-fired options.” The ultra-high efficiency boiler will be beta-tested towards the end of 2009. If all goes according to plan, the three million Btu version should be available in 2010.

Lochinvar’s Sync boiler features smart-touch control with a touch-screen user interface. This allows contractors to integrate boilers into heating systems with less effort and with more control, says marketing director Stirling Boston.

The modulating condensing design is housed in a compact footprint that features multiple venting options for greater installation flexibility and ease of maintenance.

These improved control strategies are not only user-friendly, but they also help combat real-world scenarios such as part load heating days, energy saving pumping and piping strategies, system oversizing and limitations in technology for maintaining the heating system at low loads.

“Due to these variables we are sometimes not able to operate a complete heating system at efficiencies as high as is desired. However, we will continue to introduce new technologies and controls designed to provide higher realised system efficiencies,” explains Boston.

Bryan Steam recently introduced its Triple-Flex ultra high efficiency condensing boiler, which uses a variable speed motor/blower for precise control and energy savings. This US manufacturer is also researching and developing the latest in control technologies to deploy in the market. “We have seen a steady increase in the use of PID control technology for more accurate control of the boiler for precise output to the heating/process load.

“The use of various protocols for communications with the BMS is a continual challenge as the industry works to find a common standard,” comments national sales and marketing manager Ronald Guth.

“We are also using the Honeywell Sola hydronic control to manage the boiler while interfacing with the BMS to change the water supply temperature as needed in order to reduce the loads on the system pumps and chillers, for example.”

Since the Triple-Flex boiler is not temperature dependent, it also provides ultra high efficiencies. Most condensing boilers can achieve efficiencies in the 95% to 98% range when operated with cool return water of 80°F at low firing rates. However, these are not real-world operating conditions. When these same boilers are fired at maximum rate with nominal 160° return water and 180° supply, efficiencies are closer to 86% to 87%.


A lot of the technical innovation on the boiler and water heater front is related to increased efficiencies and reduced emissions. But what about existing units? Perhaps Dubai, where ‘green’ building is gaining momentum, can take a leaf from the UK, which has introduced an innovative scheme to replace older boilers with the latest technology.

Plumbers’ merchant Mick Williams of the UK has started a campaign called ‘Reheat Britain’. It states that, by replacing that country’s old, inefficient gas boilers, it would be possible to achieve a major environmental benefit, and at the same time generate employment and stimulate economic activity.

According to the Energy Saving Trust of the UK, boilers account for about 60% of the carbon dioxide emissions from a gas-heated home. By replacing a G-rated boiler with a new A-rated condensing alternative with better controls, household bills can be cut by up to a quarter. In an average UK family home, that could mean a saving of £235 a year.

Reducing gas consumption reduces carbon dioxide emissions at the same rate. Thus a house that swaps a G-rated boiler for an A-rated alternative could also reduce its carbon footprint by as much as 15%.
Initially, there will be a carbon cost in making and fitting new boilers. However, for an energy-using appliance like a boiler, the proportion of manufacturing emissions – compared with emissions from fuel used during its working life – is no more than a few per cent, and savings are immediate.

The scheme could generate a new niche market for plumbers and engineers to tap into. In the UAE, energy efficiency in the MEP sector falls largely on the HVAC side, but boilers and water heaters are critical, as such equipment is a major consumer of energy. Companies specialising in boiler optimisation also stand to benefit.

Major boiler and water heater companies


Thermax is a global solutions provider in energy and environmental engineering. It offers products and services in heating, cooling, waste-heat recovery, captive power, water treatment and recycling, waste management and performance chemicals.

Through technology partnerships and strategic alliances, it assists industry to perform efficiently and profitably. With a dedicated sales and service network covering South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, India, the UK and the US, Thermax focuses on innovative solutions and reliable support.

Some of the company’s latest contracts include a Rs.255 crore contract to supply four circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) boilers for captive power generation in a cement plant in Uttar Pradesh. Using coal and washery rejects as fuel, each boiler will generate 250 tph of steam for captive power generation.

Thermax Engineering Construction Company Limited, a 100% subsidiary of Thermax, will be involved in the construction of the boilers on-site, which will be commissioned over the next 22 months.

Stiebel Eltron

Represented regionally by Gerabic General Trading LLC, Stiebel Eltron is the largest manufacturer of water heaters in Germany.

Most instantaneous water heaters are pressure-type units with pressure-resistant copper or plastic tanks of 1000 kPa (10 bar) pressure rating for a centrally-installed hot water supply, which can supply multiple outlet points depending on the amount of warm water, determined by the size of the element in kilowatts.

These compact units have a large element so that the water can be heated instantly and continuously.

Stiebel Eltron manufactures two main types, namely electronically and hydraulically controlled units.

Harris Pye Gulf LLC

Steam generation consumes enormous quantities of fuel. Hence it is essential that equipment operates at maximum efficiency. Even a minor performance impairment can be hugely prohibitive in terms of fuel wasted.

The ongoing utilisation and maintenance of steam-generating equipment often stretches engineering resources to the limit. Modern boilers are so highly specialised it is impossible for plant engineers to retain the necessary level of specialised skills to both maintain the boilers and look after the ongoing problems in the rest of the plant.

“As steam engineers we offer a wide range of specialist services designed specifically to support your boiler, thermal and power generating needs,” says Harris Pye Gulf LLC MD Malcolm Jordan.

Faisal Jassim Trading Company LLC

Established in 1988, Faisal Jassim is a partnership between various engineers specialising in electro-mechanical services. It represents Cleaver Brooks of the US, touted as the world’s leading manufacturer of packaged high-pressure and low-pressure commercial and industrial boilers and boiler room systems.

Cleaver Brooks’ low-emission and high-efficiency steam or hot water boilers, boiler parts and boiler services, including boiler training, are used to address energy and environmental issues around the world involving combustion and heat transfer technologies.

The company provides fully-integrated boiler room systems backed by service support and full resources. It has over 350 type of packaged steam or hot water boilers, which can be operated using gas, oil, electricity or alternative fuels. Cleaver Brooks also provides the latest in energy-efficient control and monitoring devices. In addition, Faisal Jassim can assist designers and specifiers in selecting the most applicable equipment for a specific project or application.


Modern oil-condensing boilers can save as much as 30% more energy than conventional boilers. The technology achieves utilisation rates of up to 98%, and thus converts nearly all the energy contained in the fuel into usable heat. Combined with low acquisition costs, the return on investment is achieved very quickly.

The comprehensive Viessmann product range includes highly-efficient oil-condensing systems with outputs ranging from 12.9 kW to 6.6 MW. Vitoladens oil-condensing boilers are available as wall-mounted and compact units for up to 23.5 kW, and as floor-standing boilers with output of up to 54 kW. The range also provides oil-condensing efficiency for up to 300 kW with the Vitoradial 300-T unit boiler, and up to 6.6 MW with the Vitotrans 300 flue gas/water heat exchanger.

Atlantic Boilers

Atlantic Boilers grew from a traditional family business established in 1923, supplying the first commercial gas-condensing boilers in the UK in 1982. It has supplied condensing boiler plant to universities, hotels, hospitals, social care buildings, leisure centres and office and housing developments, including its ‘R’ series of new-generation boilers.

The ‘R’ series year-round maximum condensing boiler is capable of burning rape seed oil as an alternative fuel source. Its proven rotating-cup burner gives instantaneous controlled combustion with the boiler.

High-maintenance components such as high-pressure pumps, ignition sparks and special filters are eliminated. The rape seed oil is stored in an external vessel, and then piped to a pre-heat tank within the boiler, from which it passes to the burner. A naturally derived fuel, rape seed oil burns with the same maximum condensing efficiency as light oil and natural gas.

Baxi Group

Baxi Group is one of Europe’s leading heating groups, with a strong presence across both established markets such as the UK, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany, and fast-growing areas such as Russia, Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe, China and the Middle East. It is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers and distributors of domestic and commercial water and space heating systems, operating in a market worth over £16 billion a year.

In addition to manufacturing high-efficiency condensing boilers, Baxi Group is committed to new heating technologies that will play a role in tackling climate change. It already sells the world’s leading mini combined heat and power (CHP) unit, and has a well-developed range of domestic biomass and solid fuel boilers and solar and heat pump products, and is developing micro CHP boilers for domestic installations.

It is also investing in a micro CHP unit powered by a fuel cell that is small enough for domestic use.

The Baxi Duo-tec Combi 28 HE was voted ‘Boiler of the Year 2008’, presented to Baxi UK sales director David Cook at the CORGI Awards ceremony. This boiler gives households the benefit of having hot water on tap almost instantly. Due to its high efficiency and low carbon dioxide emissions, consumers also benefit from substantial savings on their fuel bills by only heating the water they use.

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