December 2, 2022
  • December 2, 2022

Specification of fans and blowers for biomass applications

By on April 21, 2022 0

Using smart technology can reduce maintenance and energy consumption costs, as well as cumulative cost savings over time through continuous monitoring and optimization.


Specifying blowers for biomass energy applications requires finding the best value between initial capital expenditure and ongoing operating costs. Biomass applications are inherently tough on fans, with temperature extremes of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius), high vibration, and heavy dust loads that can quickly wear out components. Meanwhile, fan reliability is paramount, as the equipment supports many critical functions.

The harshness of the environment, coupled with stringent energy and environmental standards, can make it difficult to specify industrial fans and blowers that can both withstand the demands of biomass applications and avoid exorbitant costs.

It’s a delicate balance: trying to reduce upfront costs can result in excessive energy consumption due to inefficient fan operation, financial risk due to safety risks and maintenance costs and high repair costs. In many cases, specifications for biomass applications come with outdated requirements or do not allow for inexpensive options and newer technologies.

find the balance
Fortunately, cost-effective options exist and the challenges posed by outdated methods are no longer inevitable. Instead, smart technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming industry and making possible what was once unimaginable. Today, there are many ways to achieve high standards of equipment reliability, safety and efficiency while reducing equipment installation, operation and maintenance costs. The key? Leverage IoT technology to reduce maintenance and energy consumption costs, and realize cost savings over time through continuous monitoring and optimization. Here are the steps to achieve these goals.

Reduce maintenance, repair and replacement costs
Generating electricity from biomass creates a hot and polluted environment for air blowing equipment. For this reason, the first step to reducing costs is to specify industrial fans suitable for the environment to avoid the need for frequent repairs or replacements. For example, induced draft (ID) fans for boiler applications should be constructed of hard-wearing materials like heavy-duty carbon steel. In addition, particularly wear-sensitive surfaces should be coated with coatings or covering materials as an additional layer of protection. Fans used in boiler applications must also be able to withstand high heat, including normal operating temperatures and short bursts of very high heat, up to 1800 degrees, to ensure that major fan components can survive in the event of a boiler malfunction.

In addition to temperature extremes, the presence of dust and debris should also be considered when specifying fans for cost savings. When dust particles collect on the fan, this buildup can reduce performance, efficiency, and reliability. Additionally, dust buildup on fan blades is rarely uniform and can lead to rotor imbalances, increased vibration, and early bearing wear and failure. A reputable fan manufacturer can help you select the correct blade geometry to limit particle buildup and protect the fan from costly damage.

Robust construction and ideal geometry are no longer enough for fans supporting critical power generation processes. Robust design must now be combined with IoT and predictive maintenance to ensure long-term reliability, reduce maintenance expenses and avoid costly downtime. For example, mechanical IoT sensors can be installed on the motor shaft to measure vibration and temperature changes in real time, comparing them to an established baseline to provide an early indication of potential mechanical issues. Particle sensors can also be used to monitor the volume of dirt and dust in the air stream. This real-time condition monitoring helps quickly identify acute problems that require immediate action, as well as monitor subtle performance changes that predict future outages so they can be avoided.

Reduce operating costs
Energy consumption is one of the largest expenses associated with the operation of air blowing equipment, so energy efficiency is essential. Much like fan specification for harsh environments, fan construction and geometry play an important role in determining fan efficiency. For example, centrifugal fans provide the highest efficiency and consume the least energy when built with airfoil blades (blades shaped like an airplane wing). However, with the emergence of IoT technology, geometry is far from the only way to maximize efficiency. Using cost-effective, battery-operated IoT sensors, users can measure airflow, pressure, and other fan efficiency metrics in real time, and adjust them as needed. Plus, users can be notified immediately when a fan is running inefficiently and using more energy than normal or needed, so the problem can be resolved before costs pile up. Since energy is a major expense, optimizing fan power consumption can significantly reduce costs and improve margins over time.

Cost savings compounded over time
The real-time visibility provided by IoT sensors cannot be underestimated, but the true value is realized when these technologies are used continuously over time. Not only does remote monitoring give equipment managers insight into fan performance and equipment health in real time, it also allows users to track trends over time to continuously improve efficiency . For example, historical data from condition monitoring sensors can be used to measure and improve overall equipment efficiency, which is a percentage value that represents the total availability, performance, and production quality of the equipment.

Additionally, IoT sensors can be connected to artificial intelligence, automatically enabling proactive readouts of machine status. With machine learning, IoT sensors can even become self-improving through fine tuning, faster reaction times, and increased accuracy and security. Ultimately, pairing heavy-duty fan gear with the latest smart technology keeps your gear operating at peak performance, and even improving over time.

Air blowing equipment without compromise
The old rules for specifying industrial fans are outdated. Today, many modern strategies and technologies are available to optimize efficiency and save on capital and operating expenses. Above all, it is essential to select reliable, high-efficiency equipment that can withstand the demands of biomass applications. This, coupled with IoT technology that can remotely monitor conditions in real time, proactively identify signs of wear and prevent premature failures, will keep your equipment running smoothly, ensuring efficiency and maximizing uptime. Finally, partnering with a knowledgeable and experienced industrial fan manufacturer that is ahead of the curve with next-generation capabilities can help you customize the right solution for your application.

Author: Daisy Wood
New York Blow Society
[email protected]
www.nyb.com