Fuel-oil additives may be used in boilers to improve combustion efficiency, inhibit high-temperature corrosion, and minimize cold-end corrosion. In addition, additives may be useful in controlling plugging, corrosion, and the formation of deposits in fuel-handling systems. However, caution should be used in establishing the need for and application of any additive program. Before selecting an additive, clearly identify the problem requiring correction and the cause of the problem. In many cases, solutions may be found which would obviate the need and expense of additives. Also, be sure to understand clearly both the benefits and the potential debits of the additive under consideration.

Additives to fuel-handling systems may be warranted if corrosion problems persist due to water which cannot be removed mechanically. Additives are also available which help prevent sludge and/or other deposits from accumulating in equipment, which could result in increased loading due to increased pressure drops on pumps and losses in heat-transfer-equipment efficiencies.

Additive vendors claim that excess air can be controlled at lower values when catalysts are used. Although these claims appear to be verifiable, consideration should be given to mechanically controlling O2 to the lowest possible levels. Accurate O2 measurement and control should first be implemented and then modifications to burner assemblies considered. Catalysts, consisting of metallic oxides (typically manganese and barium), have demonstrated the capability of reducing carbon carryover in the flue gas and thus would permit lower O2 levels without smoking. Under steady load conditions, savings can be achieved. However, savings may be negligible under varying loads, which necessitate prevention of fuel-rich mixtures by maintaining air levels higher than optimal.

Other types of combustion additives are available which may be beneficial to specific boiler operating problems. However, these are not discussed here since they are specific in nature and are not necessarily related to improved boiler efficiency. Generally, additives are used when a specific problem exists and when other conventional solutions have been exhausted.

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