A college recently reported a major issue on their campus after it was determined that an internal explosion within the coal boiler caused permanent damage and shut the system down. The fire department was called in to deal with the contained fire, but problems remained long after they left. An investigation is underway to determine what caused the malfunction.
The explosion occurred shortly after campus employees started up the boiler for the first time this season. Fortunately, a backup system operating on natural gas, was in place to pick up where the other left off. Campus life continued as usual, except for those in charge of mechanical operations.
The report indicated that the explosion happened when the boiler was brought on line for the first time for the heating season. Many organizations were starting their own systems around the same time. Though January is generally considered very late in the season, the weather had been so pleasant throughout November and December, many systems were not started until after the first of the year.
This indicates that the explosion could have been caused by excessive fumes in the combustion chamber combined with a delayed ignition. Or, it could have been caused by reduced draft, which would not allow the combustible gases to properly exit the boiler. The SRP Control Systems Group provides a myriad of temperature and pressure control devices that can be re-installed, or implemented on a boiler like this to help prevent disasters like this, but also to replace the damaged temperature sensors and pressure sensors that were damaged due to the explosion.
For now, the college is pleased to announce that no injuries resulted from the incident, and classes will continue as planned. The fire department formally acknowledged that everything was stable and safe as it stands. Investigation will continue and then steps will be taken to rebuild the system and to ensure that there are not repeat malfunctions of this nature in the future.