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Industrial boilers have to be ‘greener’

A substantial portion of natural gas consumption in the Netherlands goes to fuelling industrial boilers. These are large boilers that produce steam at temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius with capacities of up to 5 megawatt or more. They are used by hospitals, the dairy industry and the processing industry, among others. In the years ahead, the burners of these boilers have to become ‘greener’ by burning hydrogen or green gas. University of Twente (UT) has received a research budget of 925,000 euros from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to come up with the ideal design. The focus will be on preventing acoustic vibrations, which can cause serious damage to the boiler.

The UT project – named DYNAF – uses numerical modelling to predict the level of acoustic vibrations produced by large steam boilers. These vibrations are caused by the high megawattage burners that heat the boiler. These vibrations must be prevented because they can develop into massive proportions, ultimately damaging the boiler.

Pressure fluctuations

One of the most significant risks when the installation shuts down is acoustic pressure fluctuations caused by the burning dynamics. Flames are an extremely powerful sound source that can amplify sound to dangerously high levels. Pressure fluctuations have to be prevented in order to avoid mechanical failure. The installation’s sensitivity to pressure fluctuations depends on the type of fuel used and the accompanying burner design.

Sustainable fuel burning

For the coming transition from ‘tried and true’ natural gas to other types of fuel that are more sustainable, such as hydrogen and green gas, the industry needs instruments to analyse a boiler’s performance. The DYNAF project will be dedicated to researching flames and acoustic phenomena.  

Expertise Centre

The models for these phenomena will be validated in UT’s lab and tested on a large industrial boiler. Measuring equipment will be developed at an expertise centre on the UT campus and subsequently made available to the industry.


Total funding for the project is 925,000 euros, made up of a grant from the NWO of 750,000 euros supplemented with support from the Dutch business sector. Two doctoral candidates from UT will be appointed to the project, as well as a doctoral degree candidate from Technical University Eindhoven. UT will also be working in partnership with Dutch industry, Oxford University and the Barcelona Super Computing Center.

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
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