Scotlands' Micro Employer of the Year


Energy Efficiency Award - JBC


Energy Losses - Flue Gas Losses


Quick Step Boilerhouse Efficiency Guide


Benefits of CEA membership - CEA Endorsement


Industrial Gas Accreditation Scheme I-GAS


Case Studies


Lay up procedure - Byworth Boilers


The safe operation of boilers - who's responsible?


Emerson patented combustion solution


Reducing boiler pressure saves energy – myth or fact?


Environmental sustainability has never been so important and this pressure is leading many plant engineers to explore ways they can reduce boiler house energy consumption. A common idea is to reduce boiler pressure to save energy, but does it work? Chris Coleman, Marketing Product Manager at Spirax Sarco, explains how steam system pressure and fuel economy are interlinked. 

The pressure for companies to reduce their environmental impact is growing daily. Consumers, investors, governmental bodies, the media and many other groups are all increasingly focused on the need to lower emissions. This is leading many boiler operators to review their boiler house energy consumption with a view to reducing total carbon emissions and saving energy costs. 

One question we’re often asked is whether it’s a good idea to run a steam boiler at lower than its design pressure to save energy.

The answer is not always a simple yes or no; there may be bigger issues to consider other than relatively minor adjustments to boiler pressure. In particular, it’s vital to ensure that all condensate and flash steam is recovered and its heat re-used efficiently.

Ultimately, what really counts is ensuring that the steam distribution system is as energy efficient as possible.

Higher distribution pressure is more efficient

Generating steam at a higher pressure will require more fuel. However, at its simplest level, the same amount of energy is used whether the boiler raises steam at 4 bar g or 10 bar g. This is because it’s the connected load and not the boiler output that determines the overall energy consumption of a building or industrial plant.

We have to also consider losses around the system. Within the boiler itself these losses depend on the boiler’s combustion efficiency, the heat transfer efficiency of its combustion chamber and fire tubes, and flue losses, which are likely to be higher at higher boiler pressures. However, these rises are marginal when compared to the benefits of distributing steam at a higher pressure.

The most efficient way to run steam plant is to operate the boiler at higher pressures, with pressure reducing equipment to lower the system pressure at the point of use. Using higher pressures increases the boiler’s thermal storage capacity, helping it to cope more efficiently with fluctuating loads and minimising the risk of wet and dirty steam being carried over into the distribution system. It also cuts the cost of materials, insulation and labour, since smaller bore steam mains can be used.

Consider all losses

There will also be losses from the steam distribution system, including heat loss from pipework and fittings to the surrounding atmosphere, as well as steam leaks. Again, all of these losses will be greater at higher distribution pressures.

Potentially though, the most significant losses occur after the steam-using process, whether space heating for a building, or process heating in an industrial plant. Once the steam gives up the amount of heat that the process demands, condensate is released. In most cases, flash steam is also produced.

Now it gets interesting. If the condensate system is effective in recovering all or most of the heat in the condensate, and the flash steam is used by another process or fed to a recovery system, then losses will be minimal. In this case, the boiler operating pressure will not have much impact on the overall losses, and any efficiency gains may be offset by other considerations, such as the risk of wet and dirty steam being carried into the process.

On the other hand, if the hot condensate is not recovered effectively, or the flash steam escapes, then the losses will be large. In this case a lower operating pressure will produce lower losses. However, this would be an inefficient steam system and, rather than adjusting the boiler pressure, much greater savings could be made by improving the plant’s energy performance.

Achieving optimum steam distribution pressure

The optimum pressure within a system varies from plant to plant and depends on the maximum safe working pressure of the boiler as well as the minimum pressure required by steam-using equipment around the site.

Deciding on the optimum initial distribution pressure can be complex, taking in to consideration the application, equipment and safety issues. Allowances must also be made for steam pressure loss as the steam passes through the pipework to ensure the minimum pressure is met at the point of use. So it’s important that the pressure is not altered in a misguided attempt to reduce fuel consumption.

There are other considerations too, such as whether the existing control valves and heat exchangers are adequately sized if the pressure is dropped.

It can take a degree of expertise and experience to successfully balance conflicting factors and arrive at the optimum pressure for a steam system. That’s why many boiler operators would be better off getting advice from a steam system specialist.

Other ways to reduce fuel consumption

There are many effective ways to save fuel. It is estimated that industries could save up to 30% of the fuel feeding its boilers by combining established good practice with improved technologies.

Recover all condensate

Condensate can contain up to 20% of the energy in the steam from which it came. Returning water to the boiler feedtank typically recovers about half this energy, while the rest can be recovered by installing a flash steam vessel or pressurised condensate return system.

The benefits of condensate recovery do not end with energy savings, though. It also saves water and treatment chemical costs, and even effluent charges may be reduced because less water is discharged to drain.

Install automatic boiler blowdown

All boilers need to be periodically purged by blowdown, the key to which is removing only enough water to maintain contamination at an acceptable level. Dumping any more than this is a waste of energy and treated water.

Many boiler houses use blowdown valves that are manually opened at regular intervals and dump water down the drain. An automatic TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) blowdown controller is a better option. By continuously monitoring TDS build-up in the boiler, the controller opens the blowdown valve only as required. It is often cost effective to recover the heat from the necessary boiler blowdown using a simple flash vessel and heat exchanger system.

Creating the right boiler feedtank conditions will also reduce the amount of fuel needed to produce steam from hot feedwater. Using returned condensate, for example, to raise the feedwater temperature by 6°C gives a fuel saving of 1%. Ideally, feedwater should be maintained at 90°C.

Taking the next step

These are just a few of the factors that can determine whether a steam system operator is paying over the odds by running their plant below its optimum efficiency. A full energy audit can identify where energy is being wasted and suggest ways to win significant savings, however we know that some companies don’t have the necessary steam system expertise in-house. Therefore calling in an external provider like Spirax Sarco is often the best option. You can get in touch on


Scotlands' Micro Employer of the Year

Highland company Boiler and Valve Engineering was named as Scotland’s Micro Employer of the Year at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards 2018. The specialist engineering firm recruited two apprentices in one year because of its belief in the value they bring to the business. Managing Director Andrew Macdonald believes apprentices bring energy and enthusiasm that can only benefit his business, which provides maintenance services for major distilleries and public sector organisations across Scotland.

 Micro_Employer_of_the_Year.jpgPictured: Andrew MacDonald with apprentices Kenneth Murdoch, Connor Brown and Skills Development Scotland chairman John F McClelland CBE.

Nairn-based Boiler and Valve Engineering Ltd has been named Micro Employer of the Year at the 2017 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

The specialist engineering firm has recruited two engineering apprentices to its five-strong workforce since forming 18 months ago and both are studying towards a qualification at Inverness College UHI as part of its modern apprenticeship programme.

Second year apprentice Kenneth Murdoch has been with the firm since the outset and attends Inverness College UHI one day per week, studying for an HNC in Engineering Systems.

Connor Brown is a first-year apprentice who joined the firm this year. He attends Inverness College UHI two days per week and is studying towards an SVQ2 in Performing Engineering Operations.

Boiler and Valve Engineering Ltd, which specialises in industrial steam and hot water boilers for major distilleries and public-sector organisations, was nominated by the university in recognition of its strong commitment to the apprenticeship scheme and the belief in the value they bring to a company.

The awards took place at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday 16th November.

Read More


Energy Efficiency Award - JBC

Prestigious Award for Energy Efficiency won by JBC!JBC2.jpg

JBC are proud to announce that they are the winners in the prestigious ‘Motion Control Industry Awards’ in the Environmental & Energy Efficiency Award Category with their Oilon burners and Ecosafe electronic digital control system.

There was some stiff competition as JBC was up against strong finalists such BOGE high speed turbo compressors, direct air and pipework compressor systems and X-Design Pheu-Saver compressed air recycling.

Numerous case studies, product information and testimonials had to be submitted to the judging panel, along with a strong evidence criteria and valid reasons to be considered in order to qualify as finalists. 

JBC scored highly in this category, showing substantial savings and efficiency in each case, as well as its excellent customer service levels. 

The winners were announced at the Plant & Asset Management Exhibition at the NEC on10th April and was presented to Pete Nicholls of JBC and Kari Palo of Oilon.


For information on how we can save you energy and money email or visit our website



Energy Losses - Flue Gas Losses

The fact is the number one area of energy loss is the stack. Flue gases leaving the chimney above ambient temperature waste huge amounts of energy. You don’t have to try hard to get a feeling for the scale of problem facing the user.

In every household there’s a hair dryer, usually rated at around 1.5 kW, producing a warm gentle breeze which adds up to 12,000kWh when run for 8,000hrs. This is miniscule when compared to the hot exhaust gases being discharged from the average industrial chimney. In comparison, the hair dryer hardly produces sufficient output to scare off a cabbage white butterfly from your prize runner beans!

Anyone standing near the top of a stack, or even at ground level, when the plant is operational, cannot fail to appreciate just how much energy is contained in the huge volume of hot air racing through the flue and into the atmosphere, thus costing the operator a small fortune.

Flue gases are a fact of life and the reasons for excessive temperatures are varied but much of the heat contained within them can be harnessed by a variety of different methods.

These will be dealt with in later bulletins but suffice to say there are enormous savings to be made in this area.


Using yesterday’s technology to burn tomorrow’s energy

The savings potential for flue gas energy losses is often gigantic.

Calculation example:

Flue gas losses from a 10 MW oil-fired combustion plant operating at 15 bar with a flue gas temperature of 250°C under 24hr operation:







Click here for tips worth consideration.


Quick Step Boilerhouse Efficiency Guide

Go greener and boost the efficiency of your boilerhouse with Spirax Sarco’s new quick step guide

In the current economic and political environment, businesses are under increasing pressure to save on fuel costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Spirax Sarco has launched a new guide that will show you how to increase efficiency and productivity whilst raising your company’s environmental profile.

In this guide, author and boilerhouse specialist Chris Coleman talks about five key measures which can help you lower energy consumption, reduce maintenance and carbon emissions, promote cleaner steam and ultimately lower your bottom line.

Learn the benefits of the magic five:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • TDS controls
  • Flash steam recovery
  • Exhaust gas heat recovery
  • Steam conditioning

Click Here to learn more about how these five key measures can help you save money and help the environment.


Benefits of CEA membership - CEA Endorsement

A retired industrial Engineer who is now working as a competent person inspecting Heritage Steam Plant and equipment.


I have found individual membership beneficial to myself along with BOAS accreditation. BOAS accreditation was an important part of professionally proving my competence to operate and look after steam plant. I found that maintaining membership was useful in assisting to keep me up to date with changes as they happened around the steam industry.

The Combustion Engineering Association Conference and workshop programme allows you to absorb legislation and your responsibilities with a group of likeminded people and together improve your knowledge and understanding of the subject. All the speakers know their subject and you get the chance to interact with them and get advice in plain English. The sessions are practicable and relevant with a chance to interact with others operating steam equipment where you can also share your experiences.

Membership also gives you the chance to get involved with the C.E.A. and help to make a difference. Their work on the Boiler Operator Accreditation, Boiler Feed Water (BG04) and Industrial Gas Accreditation Scheme (I-GAS) which needed members to get together and write and set up the system and documents. This needs input from experts in their respective fields as well as some input from the intended recipients. If we put nothing in ourselves to CEA we will get nothing out, so attending and taking part will help you, others and the C.E.A.


Keith Hawkins

Eng Tech MSOE MIPlantE



Industrial Gas Accreditation Scheme I-GAS

The CEA I-GAS scheme provides a comprehensive qualification for Maintenance fitters, Technicians, Engineers and Designers of Industrial Gas Systems.

People in factories often think they are exempt from the ‘Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998’ (GSIUR) but they are wrong, the paragraph in blue is key to helping people understand compliance with the regulations.

Guidance to Regulation 3 of the GSIUR states:

“Gas work for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations should only be undertaken by a person who has successfully completed an appropriate full training course followed by an assessment of competence”.

The CEA’s Industrial Gas Operations Accreditation Scheme (I-GAS) was officially launched in March 2017 and has been created to fill this gap, it was created in collaboration with industrial gas training providers/centers, manufacturers of combustion equipment, and employers.

It is the only formal training and accreditation scheme currently available that is specifically designed for maintenance staff and technicians working with gas in industrial premises.

For further information on the I-GAS course please click here

I-GAS Training Providers

Level 1

Combustion Engineering Association – 01740 625538

NETPark, Thomas Wright Way, Sedgefield, Co. Durham, TS21 3FD


Level 2 & Level 3

Blue Flame Associates

Nick Evans, - 0845 1949 040 (if calling from mobiles 01782 576810)

Unit 8 High Carr Network Centre, Millennium Way, High Carr Business Park, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 7XE


Steve Johnston, - +44 (0)1253 697078

Unit 8 Broughton Way, Off Thompson Rd, Whitehills Business Park, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 5QN


Paul Nolan, - +44 (0)23 92333813

Langstone Technology Park, Langstone Road, Havant, PO9 1SA

Kiwa  - Level 2 only

Andrew Mathews, - T: +44(0)1242 508790 M: +44(0)7718 570566

Kiwa House, Malvern View Business Park, Stella Way, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, GL52 7DQ, UK


Upcoming Courses

Click here for Level 2 & Level 3 courses


Case Studies

Watkins Hire have provided CEA with some interesting case studies, click on the links to view What they did, How they did it, the result and the equipment used.

1. End User: A Major Utility Company

The Challenge

Due to a unforseen breakdown, a major utility company working on strict timescales had the urgent requirement for a 15,000kg/hr steam boiler to operate at 8 barg working pressure.

Read More Here...


2. End User: Luxury Apartments in London

The Challenge

A call was taken via Watkins Hire’s 24/7 Emergency Hotline regarding the urgent need for assistance due to the failure of an existing boiler at a prestigious residential block of 134 apartments in London

Read More Here...


3. End User: Luxury Apartment Building Management Company

The Challenge

A management company required a temporary boiler installation to assist during the planned replacement of existing site boilers for a block of 330 luxury apartments and swimming pool in the centre of London

Read More Here...


Lay up procedure - Byworth Boilers



With many businesses closing for Christmas, Byworth’s Chief Technician, David Tilleard, discusses how to prepare a boiler for short term storage. David reports: “A boiler left idle for an extended period of time is likely to suffer corrosion as the normally low levels of oxygen scavenger are depleted. Any boiler that’s going to be left for a few days should be ‘laid up’.”

Read more of this story here. 

Visit for further case studies and news stories. 


The safe operation of boilers - who's responsible?

If you are reading this, then the likelihood is you're an engineer with responsibility of the boiler plant in your organisation. Now that could be a factory, a hospital, a chemical plant, a prison or in fact anywhere with a boiler.

So, is the boiler plant your responsibility? Yes; you say, it is my responsibility.

The fact is, the over-riding responsibility for the safe operation of the boilers within your organisation sits with the head of your organisation. It may be the MD or the CEO or some other such title but for this exercise we will call him/her the MD. The chances are, they're not from an engineering background and possibly don't even know where the boilerhouse is, but they cannot get away from it, in law, they are responsible.

So what are their responsibilities?

Read Derry's Article Here 


Emerson patented combustion solution

Take a look at this video which was the subject of the CEA's David Gunn Memorial Lecture, 19th October 2017, delivered in the House of Lords by Chip Rennie - Director, Global Industrial Energy Solutions. Whilst explaining "The "Art" of Combustion - Then and Now" Chip talked about the previous technologies of controlling fuel and air ratios and then discussed the modern way of controlling this air fuel mix and a new algorithm for controlling it, all of which is in the attached video just released by Emerson Process Management.


The CEA's Honorary President Dr Pete Waterman said "the presentation was extremely informative and has answered some very important questions for [him] and [his] guest Matt Conway, on recent developments in combustion technology". It was also very informative for many of the guests attending. For those that may not know, Pete Waterman has and still is very heavily involved in many aspects of Engineering from Heritage Railways rebuilding and renovation of steam locos through to the design, build and infrastructure for HS2 and all aspects of Engineering in-between, and it goes without saying, his passion for music.


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