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Air vs. Steam Atomization Part 6 – Economics

Posted on September 7th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence

Air-Steam-Atomization-6

Previous posts discussed the incineration and atomization processes as related to air compressor capacity. It may seem that quite a bit of investigative work and thinking has been done without putting pencil to paper to determine if it makes economic sense to use air atomization instead of steam atomization. However, a number of economic issues have been bubbling just below the surface.

For example, atomizing with air reduces the mass flow through the incinerator as compared to atomizing with steam. Not only does this increase residence time and increase capacity (as previously stated), but it also reduces stack heat losses because the atomization air reduces combustion air by an equal amount as compared to atomizing with steam. This effectively eliminates the stack losses associated with the atomizing steam.

Plant air will be produced more efficiently when the compressor speed is reduced, because the compressor will continuously produce only the required plant air pressure and not the higher pressure produced when the existing compressor is loaded.

Atomization air can be substituted for steam on a mass basis – pound for pound. The amount of energy required to compress a pound of air is considerably less than the amount of energy required to boil a pound of water, so utilizing atomization air should be less expensive than atomizing with steam.

However, the question at hand is whether the efficiencies described above will offset the costs of the piping modifications, variable speed drive, associated controls and increased electrical energy consumption.

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All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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