Cleaver-Brooks - Complete Boiler Room Solutions

Biopharmaceutical Company Installs ClearFire®-C Boilers to Meet Tough Emissions Requirements

Case Study

  • Company: Biopharmaceutical Company
  • Industry: Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Manufacturing, & Commercial Heating
  • Location: San Francisco Bay Area
  • Profile: Large biopharmaceutical company needed to comply with new Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) regulations.
  • Challenge: BAAQMD regulations required the company to lower the flue gas temperature and NOx emissions of its boilers.
  • Solution: Replace half of the company’s FLX boilers with nine low emissions, ClearFire-C® fully condensing boilers. A hybrid boiler system management control was also incorporated to ensure maximum operational efficiency.
  • Results: The boiler systems outperformed expectations, saving the company more than 30% in fuel costs.

Emissions regulations in the San Francisco Bay Area are some of the most stringent in the country. Just a few years after a large biopharmaceutical company in the Bay Area installed Cleaver-Brooks FLX boilers in several of its buildings, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) issued more rigorous regulations. BAAQMD lowered the allowed flue gas temperature on boilers, decreased the level of NOx emissions permitted, and imposed regulations on small boilers ranging in size from 2,000 – 5,000 MBTU/hr.

To meet the new regulations, management at the biopharmaceutical company considered their options. They could install heat recovery units on the boiler exhaust systems to meet the flue gas temperature requirement and change to an electronic combustion control system from the current mechanical linkage system, as well as replace their existing burners with low NOx units. Or, they could purchase new, low emissions boiler systems.

Company management evaluated their choices and the associated costs of each. They decided to replace half of their FLX boilers with equivalent-capacity, condensing boilers, even though the FLX boilers were fairly new.

They considered boilers from a number of manufacturers and selected the Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire®-C fully condensing boiler due to their positive experience with the company’s products, as well as the local support available from area representative R.F. MacDonald Co., in San Francisco.

At the time, the largest ClearFire-C fully condensing boiler available was 2,500 MBTU/hr, so to replace one of its existing boilers, the company had to install two or three ClearFire boilers. [Note: ClearFire fully condensing boilers are now available to 12,000 MBTU/hr.] Installing multiple condensing boilers improved system turndown capability while also adding maintenance redundancy, which was appealing to the management team.

Early in 2011, nine ClearFire-C boilers were installed in four research buildings on campus. The company added two 1,800 MBTU/hr ClearFire boilers in two buildings, three 1,800 MBTU/hr boilers in a third building, and two 2,500 MBTU/hr boilers in a fourth building. In each of the buildings, the company was allowed to keep one of its existing FLX boilers. Under the BAAQMD standards, a company can keep a legacy boiler on site if it is not used for more than 10 percent of annual capacity.

A hybrid boiler system management control was also incorporated to ensure coordinated control of condensing and non-condensing boilers for maximum operational efficiency. The innovative control system from Cleaver-Brooks continuously monitors the heating/hot water loop and outdoor temperature to optimize the condensing capability of the ClearFire-C boilers, for maximum energy savings. The smart technology in the control determines the correct number of boilers and firing rate to optimize condensing performance as well as enable compliance with the 10 percent utilization limit on the legacy boiler. Due to compliance requirements, the company had to gather a year’s worth of data before BAAQMD would allow it to keep the existing FLX boilers, so the new boilers were installed during the winter, even though they are used for heating purposes. The installation process was seamless, and the units were up and running according to schedule.

Before the installation, the company conducted a financial analysis of its expected annual savings and anticipated a 5 to 7% fuel savings based on the combustion efficiency difference of the boiler designs. The boiler systems outperformed expectations, saving the company more than 30% in fuel costs. The company’s energy savings for one building alone was more than $90,000 the first year, and it will recognize a ROI for the equipment investment and installation costs in less than two years. In addition, the company is taking advantage of an incentive from its local utility that has enabled it to double its energy savings.

Company management is pleased with the performance of the Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire-C condensing boilers and control solution and has purchased additional ClearFire-C boilers and controls to install in other buildings on campus.