The Purpose and Importance of a Soot Blower

Industrial power facilities, utilize a variety of fuel sources such as oil , coal, gas and combustable  byproducts. No matter what type of product is burned in a furnace or power boiler, the combustion process will produce a large amount of ash, gases, soot and other by-products. It is important to clean the internal heating surfaces at set intervals to prevent build-up within their systems.Soot blowers are an effective and efficient means of regularly and safely cleaning the internal heating surface.

The Problems Caused by Soot Buildup

The longer a boiler or furnace has been running, the more deposits it will have on all heating surfaces. Soot inside a furnace or other burning equipment reduces efficiency and is also a fire hazard. First, a coating of soot inside the equipment acts like an insulator to reduce heat exchange and  thus more energy is needed to achieve optimum temperature. Second, excessive soot can catch fire, causing risk or damage to the equipment, surrounding area and people.On a Black Liquor Recovery Boiler should a tube leak occur the operators have a mere 11 minutes to drain the boiler before a catastrophic explosion occurs. Industry organizations such as TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) and BLRBAC (Black Liquor Recovery Boiler Advisory Committee) have dedicated industry task forces  attempting to optimize boiler cleaning apparatus and developing Best Practices.

What is a Soot Blower?

A soot blower blasts air, steam or water (or a combination) to remove soot and ash from the interior walls of the boiler heating surfaces. The soot blower can be set to operate automatically at timed intervals or be controlled manually.

Some power generation plants that use multiple sources of fuel will have dozens of soot blowers in operation. Many of these are retractable and mounted on a rotary lance to enable them to traverse the furnace internals and have multiple nozzles to clean at all angles.

Of course, proper protective gear for employees and a good filtration system are musts when using a soot blower. The particulates blasted into the air are hazardous, so capturing them and disposing of them safely is crucial.

Soot Blowers Protect Furnace Tubes and Shells

A soot blower can minimize the risk of a soot fire. Such a fire can cause hotspots to appear in the furnace tubes, which can then reach a temperature to weaken the structural integrity of the tubes. The dangers and potential damage of a weakened furnace structure are extreme.

Soot Blowers Improve Operational Efficiency

Soot is a heat insulator. The more there is inside equipment, the more energy will be needed to get the equipment up to optimal operating temperature. No company wants to waste energy. It’s too expensive.

Fuels that fire boilers result in many kinds of by-products coating the heating surfaces; not just soot or ash, but even slag. It can get on walls, screens, reheaters, you name it. Every item coated in soot reduces energy efficiency and increases risk. A soot blower is an essential tool for maintaining efficiency and doing so safely.

As with any reciprocating and rotating equipment  effective sealing of the Sootblower is of paramount importance. Any combustion gases and particulate escaping from the boiler cavity can create occupational  and safety hazards. This is where the utilization of an effective mechanical packing arrangement can reduce maintenance and ensure a safe operation .

SealRyt’s patented SteamRyt  packing/bearing combination answers the call .

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