Owing to growing global demand for a cleaner and more sustainable environment, boiler and environmental solutions provider John Thompson has, over the past few years, carried out a series of tests by firing a variety of biomass fuels on boilers installed at the company’s Boiler Development and Training Centre, in Bellville, Cape Town, to test for combustion efficiency and boiler output.
“The tests have shown that these fuels can be burnt effectively on existing chain-grate stoker coal-fired boilers, which do not need much modification . . . this offers fuel cost savings, compared with traditional fuels such as coal,” says John Thompson business consultant Roger Dawson.
Wood pellets, woodchips, wood-pucks, grape pomace, nutshells, sunflower seed husks, corncobs, dried hops and torrefied biomass were among the biofuels that were fired during the tests.
The burners installed on the company’s oil- and gas-fired boilers are imported from leading European manufacturers and the burner design complies with the latest international emission regulations.
Dawson states: “The stoker that is installed in the company’s coal-fired boilers has been developed in-house to suit the coal types available on the local and international markets.” He adds that all the company’s package fire tube boiler designs incorporate spiral-tube technology, which enhances heat transfer, improves the overall efficiency of the boilers and reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission.
The company’s Air Pollution Control business unit provides plant and services to counteract emissions in the boiler and general industrial industries. Dawson tells Engineering News that the unit can provide air-pollution reduction solutions for various industries, with a particular focus on the mining and minerals sectors.
“Products such as pulse-jet collectors, cyclones, reverse air baghouses, shaker collectors and wet scrubbers supplied by the Air Pollution Control business unit have experienced positive uptake in the local and international markets,” he notes, adding that the unit can provide equipment for industrial plants – from engineered systems to unit dust collectors.
In terms of the company’s service contracts, Dawson says the company maintains, services and retrofits State-owned power utility Eskom’s coal-fired utility boilers and has been a major service provider to Eskom since the 1960s through its then sister company International Combustion Africa. Since then, John Thompson has installed more than 25 boilers for Eskom and local municipalities.
Commenting on the company’s product offerings, Dawson says John Thompson’s package fire tube boiler designs, with steam outputs up to 40 t/h, include coal or biomass-fired boilers with chain-grate stokers, wood-fired boilers with fixed grates, oil or gas-fired boilers and custom-designed waste-heat boilers.
Further, he points out that the company’s industrial water tube boiler designs – suitable for cogeneration, with steam outputs up to 350 t/h – include coal-fired boilers with travelling grate and continuous ash discharge (CAD) spreader stokers and biomass-fired boilers with CAD spreader stokers for dual-fuel firing, as well as pinhole and dump grates, industrial oil-or gas-fired boilers and waste-heat boilers.
John Thompson has become a leading boiler manufacturer in South Africa and aims to grow its share of boiler and associated equipment sales in the local and international markets.
Dawson mentions that the company is planning on increasing investment in research and development in the medium term to continuously improve product design, performance and efficiency.
“The company will continue to strengthen its technology base and support the power generation market in Africa,” he concludes.