Saturday, June 15, 2024


Efficiency for the Future


Boiler technology meets demands for low-carbon, high-efficiency equipment

Liquid heating fuel powered boilers and accessories are being developed for a net-zero carbon, high efficiency future.

That fact, in itself, was put into question last year, when the EPA considered removing any non-electric heat pump equipment from the ENERGY STAR® program. When the comment period on these proposals opened up, the National Energy & Fuels Institute (NEFI) rallied members and partners, and generated more than 750 letters in opposition. This grassroots response had its desired effect, and oil or biofuel powered boilers and furnaces continue to earn ENERGY STAR® ratings.

One of the deciding factors for the EPA to continue to include liquid fuel equipment came from the Inflation Reduction Act. Again, thanks to NEFI’s efforts, the IRA includes up to $600 in Home Efficiency Tax Credits for high-efficiency renewable liquid heating fuel powered heating equipment. For installations made between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2026, boilers must meet 2021 ENERGY STAR® criteria with an 87 AFUE (85 for furnaces) and rated by the manufacturer for biofuel blends of 20 percent or higher. Beginning January 2027, all equipment must achieve at least 90 AFUE and be rated for blends of 50 percent or higher.

“NEFI has fought for the renewable liquid heating fuel industry alongside Main Street businesses, equipment manufacturers, and other partners. These are the people who are delivering fuel, building equipment, and installing and maintaining high-efficiency heating systems. We are proud of the difference we made in the final versions of both the Inflation Reduction Act and ENERGY STAR® criteria. In some areas of the country, boilers are installed in 90 percent of homes, thanks to their high efficiency and low electric consumption, and renewable liquid heating fuels are leading the way in boiler technology,” said Sean Cota, President of NEFI. “Our work is not done. We continue to strive to protect energy choice by supporting initiatives like the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act (H.R. 6192) and advocating for the industry every day. The only way to successfully reach a lower-carbon future is to include renewable liquid heating fuels and high-efficiency heating equipment in any roadmap,” he concluded.

The industry is way ahead of the DOE, jumping over the 2027 requirement for B50-compatible equipment, and is already producing B100-compatible equipment. Once UL updated standards for B100-compatible burners in late 2022, both Carlin and Beckett quickly modified their burners to meet the new criteria. By late 2023, all residential burners and accessories produced by these two companies were UL certified for B100. Both companies provide technician guidance for installing their burners in new equipment or retrofitting and upgrading installed units. (You can read more about the new burners and the support the companies provide to technicians in the April 2024 issue of Oil & Energy.)

Of course, with burners in hand, boilers and controls need to keep up. Meet the new wave of boiler technology!

Future-Proofing a Company

Taco is preparing for the future, with its NextGen Zone Controls and a long-awaited expansion to its production plant.

The NextGen Zone Controls were built in response to requests and suggestions from installers. The line includes switching relays, zone valve controls, priority zoning for circulators and pumps and fan controls. They feature simple wiring and grounding; priority protection, post-surge, pump exercise timers; diagnostic lights for all outputs; five programmable outputs, and added features through the Taco Control mobile app. The new zone controls are fuse-protected, 100 percent factory-tested, compatible with universal thermostats, and offer 24-volt output for hard-wired thermostats. Two pump end switches can control up to three pumps: system, secondary and DHW.

Gearing up to meet new demand, Taco is expanding its Fall River, MA, plant. The company started planning the expansion more than 10 years ago, and finally broke ground in September 2023. The $20+ million project will expand Taco’s ability to build larger tanks, heat exchangers and other products. Most importantly, it will add capacity and reduce lead times.

In announcing the project, Cheryl Merchant, President and CEO, Taco Family of Companies, said, “The expansion of Taco’s Fall River facility is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Taco team and our commitment to our customers. The need for ASME certified fabricated products has grown tremendously as well as many facets of our market. When our customers asked us to increase our capacity to fulfill their demand, we said YES! Our ability to innovate and grow with our customers and partners has been, and will continue to be, a key reason Taco has remained strong and innovative for 104 years.”

Energy Kinetics – First to B100

While every boiler manufacturer using Beckett or Carlin burners is receiving the new B100 units, Energy Kinetics is the first to have a full UL listing for use with biodiesel blends up to B100.

To earn the listing, Energy Kinetics boilers were tested with B100 and then switched to traditional heating oil (B0) without any changes to the units. All their boilers passed and ran cleanly with those fuels and the required transitions. The company also considered long-term operation, and have “industry leading performance” in operations from low to high excess air and cleanliness of burner heads after high cycling, according to Roger Marran, President of Energy Kinetics, Inc.

The equipment is also designed to deliver “industry leading efficiency” in combined heat and hot water systems, with non-condensing boilers delivering higher heat and hot water efficiency than condensing boilers. From the beginning, Energy Kinetics built their boilers around the burner. Many of the original boiler design concepts are still recognizable in the new B100 units.

“Efficiency is a force multiplier; it not only cuts emissions, but reduces fuel bills. Upgrading can often pay for itself. The combination of a simple B20 blend and our proven field savings of 25 percent when upgrading older systems cuts fuel bills and emissions by over 35 percent. It’s so powerful that upgrading 3 homes is like removing an entire home’s emissions from the face of the earth,” Marran said.

“The next logical progression is a sustainable planet, and we can play our role with sustainable fuel which I feel is an even higher calling than just carbon reduction. A good way to visualize that is that biodiesel is grown from the warmth and light of the sun, and then that heat and warmth are stored, transported, and then much later released in cold climates using our heating equipment to keep homes and businesses warm and comfortable,” he concludes.

Energy Kinetics and Taco are only two of the many companies in the industry looking at long-term manufacturing and growth. With a focus on efficiency, renewable fuels, and energy choice, we can all enjoy a cleaner, more successful tomorrow.

Software and Technology
Energy Kinetics
May 2024
Boiler Efficiency

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