Fulton Boilers: Innovative Heat Transfer for a Sustainable Future
Can condensing boilers play a role in reducing HVAC system emissions?
We recently sat down for a Coffee Break with Joel Southwell, vice president of sales for Fulton, to discuss the latest innovations in condensing boiler technology and how they contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
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What is driving decarbonization in the HVAC market?
It’s a confluence of several factors. States are issuing regulatory changes, including bans or limitations on fossil fuel-fired equipment. Corporations are working to comply with global regulations and voluntary green initiatives. New building designs prioritize fossil fuel reduction and minimizing infrastructure impact.
HVAC equipment accounts for 45% of the CO2 generated by a building, giving it the most potential for emissions reduction. Different fuel choices and HVAC design choices can help further lower emissions.
What are the advantages of a hydronic heating system?
There’s one central location for mechanical equipment and a smaller equipment footprint throughout the building (pipes are much smaller than ducts). Hydronic systems are future-proof (they can be upgraded as technology improves) and distribute no refrigerant, avoiding regulations, restrictions, and costly leaks. Hydronics is also comfortable for the user, with simple and precise zone control and a better temperature gradient.
How do condensing boilers contribute to decarbonization?
Condensing boiler technology offers high energy efficiency, but we must understand a few concepts to get the most benefit out of the design.
When air and fuel ignite and become flue gas traveling through the boiler’s firetube, the goal is to cool that gas to its dew point in the heat exchanger because the condensing process releases a considerable amount of latent heat — 8,340 Btu per gallon of condensate. That energy would have typically gone up the stack in a non-condensing boiler.
The more of this energy we can capture, the more the efficiency of the boiler increases. As efficiencies increase, carbon emissions are reduced because the boiler won’t operate as long to satisfy the heating load.
We want the coolest possible returning water temperature to get the highest efficiency out of a condensing boiler. The lower the return water temperature, the easier it is to get flue gasses to condense in the heat exchanger.
The newest boiler technology constantly adjusts the air/fuel ratio to respond to changes in outdoor air temperature and O2 levels in the combustion air, maintaining efficiency and decreasing carbon emissions.
What solutions does Fulton offer for limiting emissions?
Fulton has a full line of condensing boilers that range from 399,000 to 12,000,000 Btuh for natural gas and dual fuel configurations. They also offer flexible, hybrid solutions for hydronic systems because no one design fits every application.
For example, Fulton can package condensing boilers with electric boilers, skid-mounted together with piping, VFD, power supply, and header connections. In this setup, the natural gas-fired boilers would only be used when the load surpasses the capacity of the electric boiler (which has zero emissions and almost 100% efficiency).
Condensing boilers can also be paired with heat pumps. This reduces electrical infrastructure requirements compared to electric boilers and reduces energy consumption versus an all-heat pump system. The boilers would allow the system to gain temperature on higher-demand days, and the heat pumps could shoulder the remainder of the load.