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Boiler Technologies: Firetube and Watertube Boilers

Most boilers can be classified as either firetube boilers or watertube boilers. Both styles are compact, easy to install, can be set up for dual fuel capability and last many years.

A firetube boiler is a vessel where the flame is contained in the furnace and the hot combustion gases pass through straight tubes. Combustion occurs within the furnace and the flue gases exhaust through the tubes to the exhaust stack outlet. The furnace and tubes sit in a Iarger shell which contains the boiler water. Firetube boilers are built similarly to a shell-and-tube heat exchanger.

The furnace and tubes transfer heat to the water. The large number of tubes results in more heating surface and greatly improves heat transfer and efficiency. Firetube boilers are available for low or high-pressure steam and hot water applications.

In the watertube boiler the tubes contain the boiler water and the products of combustion pass around the tubes. Typically, watertube designs consist of multiple drums. A steam drum (upper) and mud drums (lower) are connected by the tubes, which form both the convection section and the furnace area. Commercial watertube boilers typically produce hot water for commercial or modest-size applications.

Capacity/Energy Input
Firetube Boilers - Up to 3000 hp
Watertube Boilers - Small packaged systems up to about 7,500 hp

Efficiency
Ranges from 75% - 85%