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Using CFD to achieve lower emissions

Oilon is northern Europe’s leading manufacturer of oil, gas, and multifuel burners for power plants, industrial processes, district heating units, ships, and domestic heating systems. And is increasingly focusing on environmentally aware projects involving biogas, bio-oil, and coal-to-gas conversion. Oilon has used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for years to help ensure clean combustion and lower emissions.
Oilon International Oy

Oilon has always prided itself on its expertise in lower emissions and clean combustion processes, and particularly in cutting NOx emissions.

For a long time, expensive and time-consuming laboratory or field tests were the only way to identify the best structures and settings for burners, which is why Oilon uses advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) technology to help it calculate the optimum settings for its burners.

CFD technology models flow and combustion behaviour in the combustion chamber very effectively and produces data that can be used in an iterative development process. Data from initial CFD computations is compared to laboratory calculations to provide input for Oilon’s engineers on how combustion chamber and burner parameters can be adjusted for optimum performance. When the first set of adjustments have been made, a second series of CFD simulations are run and compared again. And so on. Working like this has helped Oilon achieve excellent combustion performance.

With the help of CFD and other product development work, Oilon has been able to cut NOx emissions in systems using its burners by as much as 50% over the last 10 years.

Long experience

Oilon collaborated with Finland’s leading universities and CFD experts prior to incorporating the technology into its product development process, and it now plays a crucial role in this work and providing customers with better burners.

The use of CFD allows Oilon’s burners to be pre-adjusted accurately even before they are installed, accelerating the start-up of systems and reducing initial costs. It also makes predicting emission levels more reliable, and cutting them easier as well. This is a particular benefit with large burners, and Oilon can now compute fluid dynamics parameters in line with specific customer or site needs.

Integral to the design process

Oilon has combined CFD techniques with CAD software in its core design process – to simulate cold flows, such as flow channels and air distribution conduits, during product dimensioning and engineering. This makes it easier to accommodate burner flames in boilers, including those where space is particularly constrained.

A solid understanding of practical issues is still important when it comes to fine-tuning burners. The best results are achieved by combining computer simulations with actual measurements and Oilon’s decades of experience in designing burners.

Combining CFD and laboratory data has proved very valuable for Oilon in designing its clean-burning burners.
> Pasi Pekkola
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)