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Standard burner configurations use modulated combustion, in which the amount of

gas and/or air admitted through all the burners in the same zone is adjusted by a
proportioning valve driven by an actuator motor, which is in turn driven by the output
of the zone's loop controller. The burners can be set up with constant excess air
(only the gas is modulated), or the gas and air can be separately modulated in
tandem, in an attempt to preserve a given flame stoichiometry. When the demand is
low, the gas+air is also low, as is the flame size at the burners, and the flame size
(and velocity) increase with increasing demand as the proportioning valve is opened.
Pulsed combustion replaces this "amplitude modulation" approach with "frequency
modulation". In a pulsed combustion setup, the burners are always run at 100%
capacity (and thus also at their highest output velocity), and varying energy demand
is accommodated by changing the amount of time the burners are kept at high-fire.
For example, a 40% demand is achieved by having the burners fire at 100%
capacity, but only for 40% of the time in any given interval, with the balance of the
interval being either off, or at a minimal-energy low-fire setting. This results in the
same amount of overall energy delivery as would be obtained from modulated
burners running at 40% of capacity, but the characteristics of the overall combustion
from the two approaches are quite different, and pulsed combustion provides many
advantages which have motivated (and justified) the adoption of pulsed combustion
in the United States over the past 15 years.
TYPICAL PULSED BURNER INSTALLATION
Combustion air is led to the burner through the air pulse valve. When the air pulse
valve is closed, a low-fire bypass tube provides sufficient air flow to maintain a
small, stable pilot flame; when open, the burner operates at maximum output. The
burner alternates between these two combustion settings, with an on/off duty cycle
determined by the PID loop controllers % output demand for that combustion zone.
High-fire control impulses, generated by the Kiltel supervisory system and burner
control panel, are typically 3-5 seconds duration.

A cross-feed air line is led from the burner air inlet (downstream from the air pulse
valve) to the gas ratio regulator, and the regulators gas throughput is modulated by
the pressure in this line. When the air pulse valve is open, the regulator passes its
maximum gas flow, which is adjusted by the limiting gas valve so the burner
produces its greatest high-velocity output at a defined flame stoichiometry. When the
air pulse valve is closed, the amount of gas flow is adjusted at the regulator to
maintain a small stable pilot flame. Modern high-velocity burners designed
specifically for pulsing typically have turn-down ratios (ratio of high-fire to low-fire
output energy delivery) of 20 or more (ie, the burner can maintain a stable low-fire
setting at 5% or less of the burner's maximum output).
The flame safety unit (fsu) monitors the presence of a flame with its flame sensor
(UV or flame rod), and controls gas flow to the burner via a blocking valve which
shuts in case of flameout. A dedicated ignition transformer performs automatic
light-off when the fsu is enabled from the supervisory control system. FSUs are
required for all burners on periodic kilns, and for any tunnel kiln burner where the kiln
temperature is less than 1400F and will not ensure autoignition of admitted gas in
the event of flame failure at the burner.
Since the burners operation is limited to high- and low-fire only, the flame
characteristics and burner tuning can be optimized precisely, resulting in the highest
possible combustion efficiency (vs. conventional modulated operation), as well as
the lowest possible NOx production (for a given burner design). All of Kiltels
pulsed combustion installations have reduced fuel consumption by at least 12%,
many over 20%.
Multiple burners in the same control zone are all pulsed with same duty cycle, but
each burner is assigned a different firing phase. Staggered pulsing ensures an even
kiln pressure, while high-velocity burner outputs produce the greatest kiln
atmosphere circulation and ensure uniform heat penetration throughout the load.
COMPLETE SUPPORT FOR PULSED COMBUSTION
Kiltel's supervisory system includes complete support for pulsed combustion,
including the logical association of burners with control zones as well as the physical
sourcing of electrical burner-enabling signals. This capability means that pulsed
combustion can be implemented from a Kiltel system without any additional pulse-
control electronics, for considerable savings in cost and efficiency. Pulsed
combustion can be used with both continuous and periodic kilns.
In pulsed combustion, the burner is always run at its maximum high-fire output, and
variable levels of energy deposition are achieved by repeatedly switching the burner
between 100% full-on and nearly-off (typically the smallest stable pilot flame), for
precise amounts of time, combustion "pulses". This requires special fuel and air
valves which can be quickly and repeatedly pulsed, to follow a pulsed electrical
control signal. The Kiltel system translates the controller's output demand into
switched pulsing output signals with on/off timing computed to provide the needed
level of output.
KILTEL's pulse generation algorithm re-evaluates the controller demand each minute
and sends a new set of pulse-timing instructions to each of the pulse generating
modules. Burner pulse control is divided into four regimes, depending on the output
demand level:

The resulting on/off waveforms are generated as a continuous pulse train by each
Kiltel burner control module. This output is generated at the hardware level, without
requiring further intervention from the supervisory program until a change in demand
necessitates new timing instructions.
Multiple burners in a single control zone (ie, which are controlled together to match
the single demand level for that zone) can be pulsed either together or in a
staggered sequence to achieve some degree of randomness. Burner phasing in
this manner can be used to enhance the degree of mixing and load penetration of
the multiple burner flames.
Since each pulsed burner has its own control valves, with independent access to fuel
and air, design considerations such as the assignment of burners to control zones
and the firing order of multiple burners within each zone, are now made as a setup
specification in the control software rather than a permanent design choice executed
in (expensive) plumbing. Burner arrangements and kiln zoning are thus totally
flexible and can easily be modified to achieve optimum performance; this flexibility
also permits kilns to be instantly re-zoned to accommodate changes in ware or in
throughput.
Each burner is assigned a burner number which must be unique and not duplicated
by any other burner on the same or any other kiln in the system. This is used mainly
as a housekeeping quantity within the program (ie, has no operational significance),
but is very useful for burner maintenance, as it will indicate which burner may need
attention in case of any problems.
Each pulsed burner is assigned to a control zone by selecting a burner control pv
from a list of PVs which are all zone controller outputs. By this means, burners can
easily be (re)assigned to any available zone of control. The pulsing output for this
burner (and all others in the same control zone) will be determined by the dynamic
output demand requirements from the loop controller for that zone.
Pulsed burners may or may not be fitted with a Flame Safety Unit (FSU). An FSU
ensures that gas is only supplied to the burner while there is a stable flame; this also
typically includes the capability for auto-ignition (or automatic relight on flame
failure), wherein the FSU will switch on a high-voltage arc to light the flame. All
periodic kiln burners are required (by considerations of engineering safety as well as
legal insurability) to have FSUs; FSUs are optional for tunnel kiln burners in regions
where the temperature is above 1400F which will ensure that any gas admitted
through the burner will auto-ignite, regardless of whether the burner's flame has
gone out. Tunnel kiln burners in preheat zones are thus required to be (retro)fitted
with FSUs. FSU installations provided by Kiltel are always wired on-up-one-down (ie,
each burner's FSU operates independently on that burner's fuel source, and each
burner has its own ignitor).
If the pulsed burner is fitted with an FSU, the FSU is represented by an enable
output which serves as the master light-off permission for that burner (ie, enabling
the FSU may result in light-off; disabling the FSU will stop the burner and shut off the
gas flow), as well as a pilot-on status signal returned from the FSU's flame
detector.
Each burner also has a phase assignment, which specifies how the firing of this
burner will be staggered with respect to other burners in the same control zone; in
most setups each burner in a zone is assigned a separate phase. All burners in a
control zone will have the same output pulsing duty cycle, but it is preferable to
stagger the actual firings to even out the gas delivery into the kiln, as well as to
ensure a degree of randomness in the firing to avoid generating standing patterns of
flow which may allow temperature gradients to be maintained. Having multiple
burners fire in a psuedo-random manner ensures excellent mixing and consequently
high firing uniformity throughout the volume of the kiln.