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Wednesday, March, 29 | 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Session: B1: New Technologies | Track B: Advanced Technologies and Renewable Energy

Luke Nilsson

Youngstown State University | Student

Presentation Title:

Optimizing Central Boiler and Steam Plant Operations with Data Analysis and New Qualitative Tools


Operating legacy industrial energy systems efficiently is challenging due to original equipment constraints, changed operating environments, and economic realities. The analytical methods presented in this paper made for no-cost operational changes that allow for cost savings of over $500,000 annually, significant carbon emissions reductions, and water savings for a 60-year-old industrial boiler house facility. While this facility operates high-pressure steam turbine generators and burns multiple fuels, the methods discussed offer optimized operating strategies for any industrial central steam generation facility, with or without power generation.
The applied methods utilized both quantitative and qualitative analysis tools. The quantitative methods include analyzing and confirming philosophies for configuring turbines versus motors using free DOE-developed modeling software, creating KPIs (key performance indicators) for turbine heat rates, and considering the combined combustion and thermal efficiencies of different boiler combinations.
The qualitative tools developed included a software auditing app and a low-cost $400 infrared iPad tool. The auditing app allows for more meaningful and complete inspection rounds when operators are conducting regular field inspections. The infrared imager allows operators to screen equipment conditions against reference images. Overall, this allowed paper logs to be converted to iPad apps providing valuable real-time operating decision information for the staff.


Luke Nilsson of Youngstown State University is a senior mechanical engineering student pursuing a bachelor’s degree. His focus is on heat transfer, power, and thermal systems. He is a student member of the Association of Energy Engineers. Nilsson has previous work experience in the construction environment as a project manager intern at ARCO National Construction in Canton, Ohio. His work in planning and proficiency in excel also taken him to conduct assessments of power plant operation data sets and boiler log optimization.

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