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The purpose of a power boiler is to create steam by applying heat energy to water. The necessary heat energy is produced by combustion. Fuel and oxygen are required for combustion to occur. Air, which is 21% oxygen, provides the oxygen, while the major fuels used in the power boiler are natural gas, fuel oil, coal, and biomass. Design characteristics of power boilers differ depending on the fuel burned. These characteristics include shape of the furnace, air system design, tube spacing, super heater design, and the type of air pollution equipment installed.
To ensure complete combustion of the fuel in the boiler furnace, enough air must be thoroughly mixed with the fuel. Each power boiler fuel requires a different amount of air for complete combustion, and the combustion controls must be designed to provide it.