At times referred to as generators, steam boilers are devices used to produce energy by applying heat energy to water. These are devices that have been used for decades and are perhaps the most simple energy producers to set up. Their functionality is to combine heat and water to produce pressurized vapor that can be used in varies applications including indoor heating, production of electricity (where the vapor is used to turn turbines) and powering engines amongst other applications.
A boiler’s simple set up is made possible by the few components. A tank is one of its main components. Because it must be air-tight, the tank is in most cases made of wrought iron. It is the tank that holds the water to be vaporized. Heating system is the other very important component. Heating is in most cases through the use of coal, wood, oil or gas. A boiler also features a vapor valve at its top, a valve that is usually connected to a pipe. There are tanks designed with chimneys for the purpose of removing any excess heat from the boiler system.
Operating a boiler requires that the heating system be started. As water in the tank reaches its boiling point, it produces vapor that is let to build up in the dome (the upper part of the tank usually left free when the tank is filled with water). The build up of vapor creates a very high pressurized environment. Depending on boiler size, the pressure is then let free by opening an outlet valve. It is the pressure (energy) that is let free that is manipulated in several ways depending on application.
A modern boiler may however have additional features that enhance its functionality. There are those that feature super heaters that re-heat the already produced vapor thus increasing energy output. There are also others that do not feature a tank. Instead of a tank, they feature a series of tubes filled with water. These are known to produce vapor at very high pressure, meaning more energy.
Although very useful in producing efficient energy that can be used in varies operations, a boiler is one of the most risky devices to work with. The fact that it yields high pressure and temperature makes it highly susceptible to explosions and fires. Unlike those used in the past however, modern ones have enhanced features that enhance their security. Such include safety valves, computerized pressure monitoring systems and fusible plugs amongst many bother safety features.