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Consider Alternate Fuels To Cut Costs

By Thomas F. McGowan, TMTS Associates, Inc. |

    Fuel costs rose sharply in 2005 because of hurricane damage to U.S. interests in the Gulf of Mexico, and international developments in the oil supply market. Competing fuels — coal and natural gas — rose in price in lockstep. Natural gas has risen in cost, and has been reported to be as much as $17/MM Btu in December 2005 for industrial use in the northeastern U.S. As operating firms that devote a high percentage of their expenses to fuel are seeing profit margins erode, the use of alternate, sometimes overlooked, fuels is becoming more and more attractive. There are many fuels available as alternatives to gas, oil and coal. These include used/recycled oil, used cooking oil, tires, wood and solid waste. Some combustion systems are already set up for multifuel firing, while others can be refitted and adapted to new fuels. Heat recovery is another attractive option, which includes adding heat exchangers to current processes, or changing over to new types of equipment, such as from an elevated flare to a thermal oxidizer with a heat-recovery boiler to recoup useful heat. This article covers the heating value and other properties of alternate fuels, the changes required to fire them, and options for heat recovery.…
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