Most boilers now depend on mechanical draught equipment rather than natural draught. This is because natural draught is subject to outside air conditions and temperature of flue gases leaving the furnace, as well as the chimney height. All these factors make proper draught hard to attain and therefore make mechanical draught equipment much more economical.
There are three types of mechanical draught:
- Induced draught: This is obtained one of three ways, the first being the "stack effect" of a heated chimney, in which the flue gas is less dense than the ambient air surrounding the boiler. The denser column of ambient air forces combustion air into and through the boiler. The second method is through use of a steam jet. The steam jet oriented in the direction of flue gas flow induces flue gasses into the stack and allows for a greater flue gas velocity increasing the overall draught in the furnace. This method was common on steam driven locomotives which could not have tall chimneys. The third method is by simply using an induced draught fan (ID fan) which removes flue gases from the furnace and forces the exhaust gas up the stack. Almost all induced draught furnaces operate with a slightly negative pressure.
- Forced draught: Draught is obtained by forcing air into the furnace by means of a fan (FD fan) and ductwork. Air is often passed through an air heater; which, as the name suggests, heats the air going into the furnace in order to increase the overall efficiency of the boiler. Dampers are used to control the quantity of air admitted to the furnace. Forced draught furnaces usually have a positive pressure.
- Balanced draught: Balanced draught is obtained through use of both induced and forced draught. This is more common with larger boilers where the flue gases have to travel a long distance through many boiler passes. The induced draught fan works in conjunction with the forced draught fan allowing the furnace pressure to be maintained slightly below atmospheric.
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