One of the most simple systems onboard a ship is the marine boiler. Though most mariners will agree on this, they also recognize that it is a complex machine requiring the strictest safety precautions and operating procedures.
Fremont, CA: Accidents on board ships involving marine boilers have previously caused significant property damage and even claimed human lives. Mariners are aware of the dangers of high-temperature steam and, as a result, do not take any chances when it comes to boiler operation and maintenance.
The following are some of the most important Do's and Don'ts that a marine engineer must keep in mind when operating a marine boiler safely and efficiently:
Operating Procedure: When starting the boiler from a cold state, follow the correct operating procedure. Ensure to pre-and post-purge after each firing, and keep the air vent open while firing and shutting down the boiler.
Blow Down: A regular gauge glass blowdown (at least once per watch) is required. The boiler should be blown down once a day to keep the chloride level as low as possible. Scum blowdown is required if floating impurities (oil, foaming, etc.) are suspected.
Soot Blow: Perform a soot blow on the boiler tubes to keep the heat exchanging ability of the boiler tubes active.
Smoke: On each watch, inspect the smoke from the boiler trunk coming out of the ship's funnel to determine the combustion quality.
Lubricate: All boiler mechanical parts and links must be lubricated and greased regularly.
Emergency Shut Down: Ensure that the boiler's emergency shut down, located in the ECR, is operational. This will be tested following the safety procedures outlined in the company's Safety Management System (SMS).
Untrained Operator: Never entrust a boiler operation to an assistant engineer or an untrained operator, especially when starting the boiler from a cold state.
Blow Down: Never do an excessive amount of blowdown because the feedwater system will compensate by adding cold water to the boiler drum, resulting in decreased thermal efficiency and stresses in the boiler.
Soot Blow: Never use a soot blow system when the boiler is under heavy load.
Unusual Observation: Do not ignore any unusual observations in the boiler, whether they are related to sound, smoke, flame quality, or other boiler parameters. Always address boiler-related issues as soon as possible.
Overload: Never run the boiler at full load regularly. At times, the boiler can be overloaded due to load demand, but frequent overloading will result in high stresses and tube failure.
Feed Water: Under no circumstances should seawater be used as feedwater. If the hot well is filled with seawater (due to condenser leakage), shut down the plant and fix the problem.