Advantages And Disadvantages Of Water Tube Boilers

In this article, I will share the advantages and disadvantages of water tube boilers.


In case you missed my previous article on the advantages and disadvantages of fire tube boilers, you can check the article below.


You might like this: Advantages And Disadvantages Of Fire Tube Boilers


You have to know the advantages and limitations of water tube boilers for you to know if it fits your needs or not.


Water tube boiler work in this principle; the water that is supposed to be heated is routed within tubes while the combustion gasses heat these tubes to generate steam.


Without wasting time, let me share with you what you need to know about water tube boilers.


Advantages of water tube boilers

1. Water tube boilers have higher efficiency.

This is the first essential advantage of using water tube boilers. They are known for their high efficiency when it comes to their operations.


You may ask, why are water tube boilers known for their efficiency?


The water that is supposed to generate steam it’s within tubes, and the heat is transferred to these via conduction and convection within the tubes.


Also, the tubes containing water are heated by the combustion gasses at a right angle, which increases the heat absorbed by the tubes.


This aids the steam pressure build-up within the tubes and this results in a very high steam pressure of about 160 to 250 bar.


The result is that the steam contains high pressure and high thermal energy thus increasing the efficiency of the overall boiler.


All this contributes to the efficiency of about 90%, which is way better than fire tube boilers(75%).


2. It can be used in a large plant.

This is another advantage of using water tube boilers. Due to its higher efficiency, it’s suitable for usage in big plants.


What you need to know is that large plants usually contain processes that need steam of very high pressure.


It’s possible to produce very high steam pressure using water tube boilers and that is why it’s preferable.


The rate of steam generation in water tube boilers is higher and that is why it can work sufficiently in large plants.


The type of steam produced by water tube boilers is considered to be of very high quality because of the pressure and thermal energy it contains.


If you want the water tube boiler to be used in plant processes that you know will require a heavy load of steam, then you should select a water tube boiler for that work.


3. Respond rapidly to load changes and heat input.

It’s easier for the water tube boiler to respond rapidly to load changes and heat input.


The main reason why water tube boilers respond rapidly to load changes is because of the small water content within the tubes.


It’s very different when you compare it with fire tube boilers since they have a large water capacity.


Since the volume of water in the tubes is small it’s easier to respond to load changes by increasing the heat input.


Also, considering that the tubes are small in size, this makes it easier to generate steam of any quality and quantity when there is a spike in demand.


For instance, if there is a process that needs a high demand of steam, this is going to be handled easily in a water tube boiler since there is no limitation when it comes to steam production.


4. Steam generation is quicker.

This is another advantage of using water tube boilers. Steam can be generated quicker in water tube boilers since the volume of water within the tube is lower.


It’s very different when you compare it with fire tube boilers that have large storage capacities of water.


This advantage makes the water tube boiler amazing when it comes to keeping time and increasing productivity in an industry.


The quicker the steam is generated the quicker the work is done.


You won’t have to wait longer for your processes to be complete when you are using water tube boilers.


This is an important factor to consider especially if your products or services within the industry are strictly tied to time.


5. It can use any type of firing method.

With water tube boilers, you don’t have to scratch your head thinking of the firing method you should use.


This type of boiler can use any firing method as long as it produces enough heat to keep the steam generation going.


This is possible with water tube boilers because the fire is located outside.


So, the size and design of the furnace can be built and shaped in any way one pleases.


This makes it easier to choose any firing method that is economical and efficient.


You might like this: Pulverized Fuel Burner: Components, Types, Requirements and Working Principle and Overfeed & Underfeed Stokers: Classification and Working Principles


6. It occupies less space

This is another advantage of using water tube boilers. The size of the boiler matters when it comes to installation and movement.


If the boiler occupies less space it’s going to be a lot easier when building its foundation.


You might like this: Factors Influencing The Choice Of Machine Foundation


Also, huge space can be saved for other industrial components that can be used in a similar plant.


This brings about the economic usage of space in the industry which is good for saving money and amazing plant layout.


The other benefit that comes with the smaller size of the water tube boilers is that it’s going to be easier to move them from one point to another.


This saves so much time and resources that would otherwise have been used to relocate the water tube boiler.


7. Sediment deposition in the water tube boilers is lower.

Another advantage of using water tube boilers is that sedimentation in the boilers is not going to be something that will stress you.


The movement of the steam within the tubes is of a very high pressure compared to fire tube boilers.


The pressure at which the steam moves within the tubes will hardly allow sediments to be formed.


The other thing is that the circulation of water in the water tube boiler is positive which is one of the factors that prevent the deposits from attaching themselves to the heating surfaces.


Disadvantages of water tube boilers

1. High initial cost

Water tube boiler has a high efficiency than fire tube boiler, it’s used in large plants and it responds quickly to load changes and heat input, do you expect it to be cheaper?


Water tube boiler is expensive to purchase because of the amazing qualities that it possesses.


If you want something efficient you have to break your bank account for it.


We all want a boiler that can fulfil our needs but the downside is the amount of money we will have to spend on it.


The cost of installation is also going to be probably higher. But, when it comes to installation costs, it will depend on the company that you will select to install that boiler.


If you have a low budget, then you should go for a fire tube boiler since it’s cheaper.


2. They are affected by thermal stresses.

Water tube boilers are easily affected by thermal stresses which is a downside.


If the water tube boilers are affected by thermal stresses this means that the tubes can easily crack and result in leakages.


Also, when it gets worst, the tubes will eventually stop working because of the faults along the lines.


This is an issue that you should keep in mind if you want to go for water tube boilers.


This problem of thermal stresses is less experienced in fire tube boilers.


If this happens to be an issue in water tube boilers then repairs and maintenance issues will be needed frequently to ensure that the effects of leakages, broken joints and failed tubes don’t happen.


3. The maintenance cost of a water tube boiler is higher.

The maintenance of the water tube boiler is essential for its operation. Water tube boilers will always need to be maintained.


With the issue of thermal stresses, which I talked about in the above paragraph and other issues with the tubes.


The tubes used in water tube boilers are special because of how they are designed.


It’s harder to find these tubes because they are not easily available.


You will have to spend so much money when the tubes fail to ensure that the water tube boiler keeps on working.


Don’t forget about the time you will waste trying to find these tubes and replace them.


This is one of the disadvantages that you should keep in mind when you are considering using water tube boilers in your plant.


4. The water needed for the water tube boiler should be pure

With water tube boilers you have no excuses, there is no way you will be able to use ordinary water in this type of boiler.


Water to be used in the water tube boiler should be treated effectively.


This is different from fire tube boilers, you can just decide to neglect that part and use ordinary water and your system will be just fine.


Since the water is transported within small diameter tubes in water tube boilers, sedimentation can eventually result in clogging the tubes and affecting the entire boiler unit.


Feed water should be treated sufficiently before it’s fed into the boiler.


You might like this: Feed Water Treatment: Types And How They Work


These treatments are going to increase the overall cost of operation.


Final thoughts


These are the things you should consider when choosing water tube boilers for your operations.


Water tube boilers have higher efficiencies but they are expensive, and their operation and maintenance cost is high.


If you must use water tube boilers then you have to ensure that the output of the products is going to give you higher profits.


Otherwise, you will encounter a huge loss that is going to drag your operations behind.


If your plant has heavy processes then you should select water tube boilers but you should be aware of the limitations of these boilers.


Thanks for reading, if you have any questions you should leave your comment. See you in my next article.


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  4. Wet Steam Accumulator: Design, Requirements, Operation and Advantages
  5. Feed Water Heaters: Functions, Types, Advantages And Operation

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