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“Boiler industry is adopting advanced combustion technology”

The focus of the boiler industry is shifting from installed cost base to life-cycle cost base. This is driving customer preferences from low-cost, manually fired boilers to high efficiency automated boilers, says Rakesh Tripathi, Global Head - Heating Business, Thermax Ltd, in this interview with Rakesh Rao.
What is driving the demand for your boilers?
Thermax offers a wide spectrum of boilers. The capacity of a boiler is generally defined in terms of steam produced/hour. The lowest size offered by us is 50 kg/hr which is used by small hospitals/laundries, going up to 1000 tonnes per hour for process heating and/or power generation requirement. Boiler pressure ranges from 7 kg/cm2 to 175 kg/cm2 depending on applications. Apart from conventional fossil fuel-fired boilers, a large population of our boilers use renewable fuels such as biomass, agricultural residue, etc. We also manufacture boilers for recovering waste heat from exhaust gases. By construction, our boilers can be classified as smoke tube, water tube and hybrid. Choice of the construction type is based on working pressure, the capacity of the boiler and type of fuel used. Factors driving demand for the industrial boilers are environment for industrial investments; emphasis on the use of renewable fuels; focus on increased efficiency and reduction in operating costs; and emphasis on more stringent emissions. 
How is Thermax responding to customers’ energy efficiency needs? 
The focus of the industry is now shifting from installed cost base to life-cycle cost base. This trend is driving customer preferences from low-cost, manually fired boilers to high efficiency automated boilers. There is also a trend in the industry to add heat recovery equipment downstream of the boiler toenhance efficiency. The industry is moving towards higher efficiency levels by adopting advanced combustion technology. 
Thermax is committed to improving the efficiency of the boiler, reducing the life-cycle costs and meeting the pollution norms. And hence we invest substantially in developing better combustion technology, heat recovery solutions for flue gases and digitalisation to reduce the operational losses.  With state-of-the-art technologies deployed in our products, we are able to provide best-in-class and high-efficiency solutions to the market. 
What are the emerging trends in the boilers industry?
With the growing environmental concerns and stringent pollution norms, the industry is now shifting towards cleaner fuels such as natural gas. Development of gas distribution networks to various parts of the country and its affordability will remain the key drivers for the shift to natural gas.  
Also, there is an increasing trend to use biomass in place of fuels such as furnace oil, coal and pet coke. This leads to special focus on combustion technology and pollution abetment methods. The focus on emission is now shifting from particulate matter emission to gaseous emissions such as SOx and NOx emissions. This will bring in the significant change in the fuel patterns and technology use for boiler industry. 
The above is leading to distinct emerging trends in the boiler industry with higher focus on efficiency and total life-cycle cost; introduction of new fuels such as rice straw, RDF & MSW; and focus on automation, online connectivity, IoT systems, etc.
How do you plan to further grow the company's boiler business? 
We are the market leaders for many decades now. This leadership position has been possible due to the significant focus on developing solutions and creating value for customers. We would continue developing solutions to address our customer challenges. Additionally, we also work with best technology providers globally, to hasten the speed of product development or to acquire new technologies. With our vision to provide sustainable solutions in energy and environment, we are confident that with the support of our customers we would continue to grow consistently and sustainably. 

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