The textile care industry is increasingly keen to maximise margins by driving down costs, and energy is one area where it is relatively easy to generate savings.

Heating water is perhaps the highest single energy cost in a laundry, but equipment is now available that makes boilers more efficient and can reduce unnecessary firing.

Many technologies exist that can help reduce energy consumption, and any saving has a direct impact on profits.

Vertical boilers are traditionally used in the small high street cleaners because the footprint is small and the efficiency is acceptable at this level of operation.

Horizontal boilers are the choice for industrial laundries, certainly from 1,000kg/hr of steam demand upwards, because of their greater efficiency and reliability.

According to Byworth Boilers, laundry equipment is very taxing on a boiler because the demand rises from 0 to 100% almost immediately. The large water surface area of a horizontal boiler can cope with this easily, unlike the smaller surface area of a vertical.

Although more floor space will be required this is a small price to pay for the vastly increased efficiency.

The horizontal boiler traditionally comes in two types, the reverse flame and the three-pass wetback. The reverse flame boiler will be the most common choice for industrial laundries and has been tried and tested over many years. It is so called because the flame reaches the end of the furnace then returns on itself. The hot gases then pass through boiler tubes through the water space before waste gases leave through the flue.

The three-pass wetback is the ultimate in traditional boiler design, says Byworth, with the hot gases flowing into a reversal chamber at the end of the furnace before travelling towards the front of the boiler through the first pass of tubes and back through a second pass before exiting.

This design will withstand arduous workloads, often working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 20 to 30 years, turned off only for essential inspections and routine maintenance. For industrial sized laundries wishing to invest in the most efficient boiler along with reliable operation, this is the most suitable choice.

The more efficient a boiler is, the more steam is produced per unit of fuel. Heat transfer from the hot gases in the furnace and tubes to the water to raise steam is therefore critical.

The less heat that is left to go up the chimney the better as far as efficiency is concerned.

The evolutionary XiD boiler tube, with spirally augmented internal walls can increase heat transfer by over 80%. Rigorously tested by Leeds University in conjunction with Byworth Boilers, this tube has been proved under both test and field conditions over 2 years. The overall effect is a typical efficiency improvement of up to 3% over another new boiler, and perhaps up to 20% over an old inefficient boiler. That could mean a 20% cut in fuel bills for the next 20 to 30years. Currently there is only one boiler range available in the UK with XiD, the Yorkshireman2.

Reviewing requirements

Bellview Textile Services has just reviewed its boiler requirements with a close eye on efficiency and reliability. This successful, forward thinking company specialises in bed and table linen services to high class hotels and restaurants in the Merseyside area.

Mark Slater, managing director and chief engineer, opted for a Byworth 2,000kg/hour, 200psi three-pass Yorkshireman boiler, well suited for the arduous workload and a good investment for a growing company.

Slater says that the solution offered by Byworth of having the boiler and ancillary tanks fully installed in a self-contained boiler house off-site was perfect for his company. It avoided the time consuming project of building a boilerhouse and the disruption of a boiler installation on site. The boilerhouse was delivered complete, offloaded, installed and commissioned very quickly indeed.

Fulton Boiler Works claims to offer a steam boiler to suit most budgets and applications in the laundry industry.

For the larger laundry, Fulton’s RBC horizontal wetback fire tube boiler range was developed in response to a demand for higher capacities than the practical maximum of 960kg/h for its vertical range. With capacities from 957 – 4,787kg/h, the RBC is ideal for larger laundry installations and can be specified with gas, oil, dual fuel or higher specification ECA approved burners.

These burners meet current and anticipated legislation, have been engineered to provide a substantial performance margin and are constructed to BS2790, 1992 Class 1 standard with a maximum working pressure of 10.34 bar.

Fulton’s popular Series J vertical steam boilers are suitable for the medium-sized laundries. Of tubeless design, they are capable of covering outputs from 96 – 960kg/h and operating pressures up to 10.34 bar, and can raise full steam output in just 20 minutes.

For smaller laundries and drycleaning applications, Fulton produces a range of compact electric steam boilers. The fully packaged, eight-model Electropack range is designed for steam loads up to 160 kg/h. It offers unrivalled flexibility in a compact unit with an attractive gloss paint finish that allows the boiler to be sited conveniently to provide “point of use” steam, even in retail outlets.

The heating elements are individually switched to allow the boiler to respond quickly and efficiently to variable steam demands.

For steam loads up to 104kg/h the extremely compact eight-model Dragon range is used extensively in the drycleaning and garment industries. It is fitted with low watt density “Incoloy” elements that can be operated independently to allow boiler output to match steam demand.

The smallest boiler, which is designed for positioning under normal-height working surfaces, is the Mini Compack with four sizes delivering between 14 and 27kg/h.


Fulton recently responded to a call from Top Dry Cleaners to replace its existing 25 year old Fulton 30E with a new gas-fired 20J, which was delivered and installed in only eight working days.

The original 30E steam boiler was maintained and regularly serviced by Fulton throughout its life. However, despite providing them with a continuous source of steam for their drycleaning and garment finishing operation for over 25 years, the boiler was finally replaced.

Managing director Brian Povey called Fulton to discuss the replacement. After discussing his current steam requirement, which is now 30% less than that provided by the original boiler, Fulton was able to provide an ex-stock 20J.

Povey says: “Twenty-five years of service is excellent for a vertical steam boiler, but I understand that’s typical for a Fulton. The fact that it is exceptionally well built and has always been serviced by Fulton must be a contributory factor in its longevity.”

With over 100 years of experience in steam, Controlled Flame Boilers has changed its range of boilers to keep abreast of the latest technology. With today’s advances in combustion and electronics, Controlled Flame Boilers has developed a system to increase efficiency, to help optimise fuel consumption even further.

Controlled Flame Boilers’ very popular range of Series 4VT uses 30% less fuel and considerably less time to reach full pressure.

A common problem encountered in the drycleaning sector relates to a boiler’s inability to maintain the required pressure during the course of the day.

This problem often results in work having to stop whilst the steam regenerates. To overcome this problem, Controlled Flame Boilers (CFB) has designed the steam chamber of its 4VT range of steam boilers so that it is approximately 30% larger than that in most other vertical boilers, therefore enabling it to respond more effectively to peaks and troughs in demand.

Two common problems encountered in this industry sector are wet steam, which contains water droplets and effectively insulates the heat transfer surfaces, and priming, when a sudden surge in demand causes an abrupt drop in boiler pressure and the entire contents of the boiler become a foam. This can flow into the steam main and so bring the entire plant to a halt.

CFB says the increased capacity of the CFB 4VT boiler virtually eliminates the possibility of priming and avoids excessive amounts of moisture being carried over in the steam-creating dryer stream.

CFB developed its CFB4VT series with the aim of cutting fuel and maintenance costs. The design makes it possible to produce steam with a very good dryness fraction, so avoiding problems caused by excessive amounts of water being carried over in the steam.

Drier and crisper

This produces a much drier and crisper finish on textiles. Dry steam also avoids the deterioration of both the plant’s pipe work and the steam batteries that convert the steam to heat. As the generated heat is passed over the water-heating surfaces four times, by means of four specially engineered ports and fins, the 4VT is able to make best use of combustion gases.

Drycleaners with limited shop space can opt for the Slim Jim, part of the 4VT series that can fit through standard doorways and fit into corners, so making it much easier to install.

TIGHT SPACE: The compact Slim Jim from Controlled Flame Boilers slim jim boiler