The age-old warning – don’t play with fire – doesn’t seem to apply to ClearSign Combustion Corp. In fact, the manufacturing industry is quite lucky that they decided not to heed this cautionary warning. That’s because ClearSign Combustion Corp. has developed a new technology for the combustion region, dubbed Duplex Tile Technology. This new combustion technology could change the industry entirely by eliminating industrial emissions by a staggering 95 percent, reducing downtime and maintenance costs all while increasing profitability and fuel efficiency for manufacturers and plant operators.
The Duplex Tile Technology is completely unique and one of a kind. ClearSign developed it with the intent of preventing industrial pollution, while also simultaneously creating energy efficiency. In order to accomplish these seemingly impossible goals, ClearSign has completely altered the process of industrial burning and the flame itself.
Co-founder Geoff Osler explains, “If you think of an industrial burner, obviously there is a flame, and you have process tubes inside of the chamber that the heat is transferred to. In our case, rather than simply having a great open flame, that flame is used to heat a tile which is approximately 6 inches [in width] and several feet away from the end of the nozzle. We then switch off the main flame and then all of the combustion happens within that tile itself.”
To see a visual representation of how the tile works check out ClearSign's video below.
By implementing ClearSign’s new Duplex tile a plethora of problems that commonly occur with large industrial burners can be avoided. For example, traditionally when working with large scale industrial burners manufacturers run into issues controlling the size of the flame, what the flame comes in contact with and fireballs in the combustion region. These challenges make the system as a whole quite difficult for manufacturers to operate safely, and can force manufacturers to turn the system down or entirely off to avoid safety issues. With the Duplex tile technology, this down time is completely avoidable and allows systems to run at full capacity, which significantly increases profitability as a user is getting more product out of the systems run time, while also avoiding shut down expenses. Osler explains this is possible because the combustion all happens within the tile and energy radiates out from the tile in a much more controllable and elegant fashion.
Another major benefit to the Duplex tile technology is increased fuel efficiency. Because ClearSign was able to create a system that manages the heat transfer to process tubes better than traditional burners less fuel is required to achieve the same results, resulting in fairly significant fuel economy savings.
But finally, the most important benefit, and the reason this technology is so important right now is its ability to reduce emissions. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies 6 major air pollutants — Ozone, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxide — that need to be governed by the National Air Quality Standards in order to protect the environment and people’s health. Nitrogen Oxide and Carbon Monoxide are the two major pollutants linked to the use of industrial natural gas making them a significant problem for the industrial sector, as the level permissible is decreasing in the United States.
Regulations and Demand
In November, the EPA announced that it will aim to lower the threshold for ozone pollution between 65-70 parts per billion, a fairly significant decrease from the current standard of 75 parts per billion set in place by President George W. Bush in 2008. Which according to Osler could “be estimated to cost something in the realm of 3.4 trillion dollars to industry across the country.” These new regulations also pose a significant challenge to the manufacturing sector because current technology simply cannot run and produce an acceptably low level of pollutants — until now.
Osler explains that by focusing the combustion in the Duplex Tile and controlling the radiation of heat it is possible to “bring down Nitrogen Oxide and Carbon Monoxide, the major pollutants, and really the only pollutants for natural gas down to virtually nothing.”
Such a solution is completely unheard of until now. In fact, according to Osler, “There is no other solution in the world that a plant operator can invest in that allows them to not only attain, but in most cases dramatically exceed, the air quality standards while also paying for itself in 18 months.”
With such an attractive product and solution, it is no wonder that demand for ClearSign’s technology is off the charts. The company began their initial deployments in the United States, but are now also beginning significant efforts in Northern Canada, Alberta. They have also seen major interest in from China, because most of the pollution is found in the form of smog, which is created by Nitrogen Oxide.
The company also makes it fairly easy for manufacturers to integrate ClearSign’s technology into existing or new operations, which further drives demand for the product.
“For a solution like ours, we think the time is perfect,” says Osler, and it seems he couldn’t be more right. Not only will ClearSign’s Combustion Corp. address pollution control soon to be mandated by the government, but it will also serves as an investment in capital equipment that will increase profitability for manufacturers. So in the end, manufacturers should breathe a sigh of relief that ClearSign decided to play with fire.