How the Fuel Specification Affects a Boiler System’s Energy Efficiency

During your annual New York City boiler inspection, one of the things that the inspector will check is the unit’s efficiency. You might have already noticed efficiency problems such as an increase in fuel consumption without a drastic change in the outdoor temperature or indoor thermostat settings. It could be related to the fuel specification that you are using for the boiler.

Determining the Fuel Specifications for Your Boiler

Whether the boiler is new, or you are new to maintaining and operating it, it is important to determine the fuel specifications. You can find this information in the literature provided by the manufacturer. In many cases, this information is available online on the manufacturer’s website. The boiler may also have the fuel specification labeled or printed onto it.

Verifying the Blend of the Fuel

If you notice a drop of efficiency in the boiler, ask for documentation related to the batch of fuel that you purchased. It is possible that a drop in efficiency could be related to too much hydrogen in the fuel supply. Excessive hydrogen causes the combustion process to create a lot of water. This decreases the unit’s overall efficiency.

Purity of Natural Gas

Natural gas is mostly methane, but it also contains variable amounts of pentane, ethane, butane and propane. All of these compounds contain more hydrogen per molecule than a molecule of methane. During the combustion process, the breaking of the carbon and hydrogen bonds releases more hydrogen if the gas is less pure than expected. The freed hydrogen atoms bond with oxygen in the combustion chamber and form water. The combustion efficiency can be measured by the inspector, which might prompt you to take action and contact your natural gas supplier.