Yeshiva University in New York City was hindered by an obsolete burner system that was expensive to operate and prone to downtime. Administrators recently approved the installation of a breakthrough, energy-saving control system on one of their many industrial combustion (IC) burners. A large reduction in burner fan speed was immediately apparent, which led to direct savings on electricity from day one. 

Aging boiler rooms can result in high costs and end-user headaches. To solve the problems posed by these obsolete systems, many boiler professionals are making the move to an efficient and easy-to-install system for retrofitting that is “linkageless.” A linkageless control strategy provides microprocessor-based independent control for fuel and air, enabling the system to operate more efficiently. A successful implementation of this technology was recently accomplished at Yeshiva University.

Founded in 1886, Yeshiva University is the world’s premier Jewish institution for higher education. It consists of four campuses across New York City, serving more than 3,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff members. The university urgently needed to reduce the electrical and fuel consumption of its aging boiler system, but a full boiler replacement simply was not a feasible solution. As an institution of higher learning, administrators prefer to invest their funds (particularly their donation dollars) into programs that more tangibly benefit students. A massive investment in the school’s physical plant was not realistic. 

The university’s utility company was offering an incentive program for customers who could make substantial reductions in energy usage, and it realized that these incentives might offset any installation costs (while at the same time providing considerable savings in the long term), if they could find the right answer. So, administrators set an aggressive energy reduction goal — enough to qualify for the incentives — and researched administrators’ options for how to feasibly reach that goal. The answer? Linkageless controllers.

Yeshiva partnered with a linkageless system provider that designed a custom solution for it. This retrofit would not require the university to replace its boilers but would instead allow the old boilers to operate more reliably and economically. Administrators decided to install the technology on just one boiler to start, to test its effectiveness. 

The new linkageless controller does away with inefficient linkage systems with the use of microprocessor controls and direct-coupled servo actuators. With this controller, the fuel/air ratio can be adjusted independently, enabling the system to operate more efficiently, resulting in reduced fuel and electrical costs.

This solution offered a less costly, less time-consuming retrofit in the boiler room. Leveraging an industry-leading platform, it can be used in new installations or easily retrofitted into existing jackshaft control panels that use supported common flame safe guards. This solution is about half the price of a complete replacement with similar benefits, and a trained technician can install this new system in just one day. Any fully modulating burner can use the linkageless control as its primary controller.

Some of the benefits of this system include higher efficiency and improved monitoring and communication. Fuel savings are accomplished with parallel positioning combustion control with provisions for oxygen trim and draft control. Electricity savings are provided by the ability to control a variable-speed drive for the forced draft (FD) fan.

“We are encouraged by everything we’ve seen from this linkageless system in all our applications, particularly at Yeshiva,” said Joe Wallace, who works as a senior applications engineer for the system installer. “This technology, with the automatic adjustments and remote monitoring, could conceivably make emergency service and energy waste a thing of the past.”

Yeshiva University and its installation partner have been monitoring energy use of this boiler since the installation. In the past, with the standard controls, the fan was running at 60Hz 100% of the time from low to high fire. With the linkageless controller, the fan modulates from 30Hz at low fire to 48Hz at high fire, representing a substantial drop in energy consumption. Thanks to the reduced consumption of fuel (5% overall), the university was able to qualify for a range of energy incentives, and these incentives alone covered almost the entire cost of the new control system. 

David Pianko, energy manager, Yeshiva, reports that the system was quick and easy to install, and he especially appreciated the intuitive operator interface. Because of the substantial energy savings the school has already experienced, university leaders plan to install the new linkageless control system on all of its burners in the near future.