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Ask the Experts Metals

Why do people use oxygen for combustion when air is free?


Russell Hewertson
Manager of Combustion Technology

Air contains almost 80% nitrogen, which doesn’t burn; it heats up and removes heat from the process as it exits in the form of hot flue gases. Combustion with oxygen eliminates this waste and provides faster melting, lower fuel usage, lower carbon dioxide generation, reduced NOx and particulate emissions and higher flame temperatures. Oxygen also efficiently burns lower quality fuels and wastes. The economics of using oxygen depend on the process and the needs of the manufacturer. Oxygen benefits are greatest for manufacturers who need extra production, have higher temperature processes (glass, steel, etc.), lack heat recovery, or have emissions issues or undersized baghouses. Oxygen is generally less attractive for just fuel savings, especially for lower temperature processes like boilers, unless fuel costs are extremely high or there are other drivers.

Can your process benefit from oxygen? Call us at 800-654-4567.

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