BNL brings back Oilheat Technical Workshop

Written on: November 1, 2012 by ICM

Brookhaven National Laboratory, after a long hiatus, has brought back the popular Oilheat Technical Workshop. BNL has, for many years, conducted oilheat-related research projects at its Energy Conservation Group, which is located in the Oilheat Research Lab. Run by Dr. Tom Butcher, the lab—relocated to new facilities on the sprawling Department of Energy’s BNL campus—researches not only oil heat, but other fuels and has been commissioned by NORA, NYSERDA and other agencies to examine methods of utilizing fuel as efficiently as possible.*
*A report on BNL’s Solar Thermal Project appears in the June 2012 issue of Indoor Comfort Marketing.
The Workshop
On October 8-9, 2012, the lab convened the Oilheat Technical workshop, with nearly 60 guests seeking to learn what BNL is up to regarding its ongoing projects.
Technical presentations by both staff and invited guests filled most of the first day and part of the second, which concluded with a tour of the new laboratory facilities.
Key topics included an update on NORA by its President, John Huber, followed by a look at advanced venting research by Roger Marran of Energy Kinetics.
Elmar Schraeder, of Wöhler (Germany) explained his company’s approach to Evaluating the Efficiency of Boilers in the Field. His company makes test instruments.
Then Chad Korach, of the National Biodiesel Board, updated attendees on the feasibility of biodiesel/heating oil blends above 5% (B5), including B20 to B100. The issue is evaluation of legacy equipment in the field, a continuing research project to see if long term use can affect seals primarily on equipment installed before the advent of biodiesel.
An update on Ultra Low Sulfur and Corrosion of Condensing Heat Exchangers and new control technologies was provided by Butcher and J. Wong of BNL explained the concept of Self Powered Heating Systems using Thermophotovoltaic and Thermoelectric Conversion. Put simply, the heat and light created in an oilfired burner could be used to generate electricity, enough to possibly run the burner itself. Not exactly perpetual motion, but enough to allow a heating system to run even in the event of a power failure.

Lightning round
A traditional event at these workshops is the lightning round, with presenters providing five-minute updates on the latest technologies they have been working on or involved with. Most are being tested in BNL’s lab.
Bola Kamath (HeatWise) provided an update on Smart Burners, Gerry Dwire of QHT described his company’s condensing boiler (manufactured in Ireland), and BNL’s Rebecca Trojanowski described the exotic work being done on Flash Atomization.
The status of the Babington Burner, which is used extensively in military field operations, is being developed—or rather, redeveloped—as a burner for home heating systems, was presented by Mr. Babington.
A webinar from California showcased new technologies, including a varable burner, from Future Heat.
On the following day, George Hall of Sid Harvey presented his company’s research on oil treatment in light of ULSD, biodiesel and bacterial contamination (as well as remedies).
The German counterpart to NORA is OWI, and a webinar from Aachen, Germany, where OWI’s labs are located, was also presented. New and cutting edge technologies were described, as well as continuing research into conventional fuels.
Rebecca Trojanowski also described her research in using polymer heat exchangers in lieu of metal, with some interesting results. The key issue seemed to be the ability of the polymer to transfer heat efficiently enough. Finally, Steve Howell of the National Biodiesel Board, explained the role of the National Biodiesel Board and the need for everyone to take a closer look at biodiesel for the heating oil industry.
Lab tours of the new facilities followed.