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How to argue that a grease pan on fire is or is not a good oil burner?

cowdog
cowdog Member Posts: 18
Today I did some experiment with silica gel heavy oil burner, and it indeed burns if the silica gel is preheated to red hot before adsorbing the heavy oil. Silica gel is a good wick for heavy oil.

Smokes a lot though, but I suppose this can be improved by leaner oil/air ratio and an insulated firebox.

However, my friend watching the experiment argued it's nothing different from a grease pan on fire, the flame does not even look like oil burner flame.

So, why is a "grease pan on fire" not a good oil burner? What are the key characteristics / performance measurements of a good oil burner?

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,344
    My first reaction was "say what?"! But on reflection, it's not as off the wall a question as one might think. In fact, at the risk of oversimplifying, I think one could sum it up in one word: control.

    That is a little simplistic, I'll grant, however by control I mean that the heat output of a good oil burner is known and constant, or if variable, variable over whatever range is available at will. That the air to fuel ratio is controlled at all times to maintain a close relationship, and one that is as close as reasonable to optimum for most efficient conversion of the energy in the fuel to heat. That the combustion flame characteristics (overall size, dimensions, etc.) are reasonably constant.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,711
    edited September 15
    Also, how would you shut down such a device quickly if something went wrong, as the safety controls on standard oil burners do?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • cowdog
    cowdog Member Posts: 18
    Steamhead said:
    Also, how would you shut down such a device quickly if something went wrong, as the safety controls on standard oil burners do?
    Shut down both oil drip and air supply?
    I think for slightly larger burner we need to blow air into the silica gel, so air supply is the constraint here, we can design the burner so outside air don't easily flow into.

    Standard oil burners shut off oil flow. 
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,711
    cowdog said:


    Steamhead said:

    Also, how would you shut down such a device quickly if something went wrong, as the safety controls on standard oil burners do?

    .........................Standard oil burners shut off oil flow. 

    Standard burners shut off oil flow, air supply and (where ignition runs all the time burner is running) ignition if something goes wrong.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,428
    To be a "good" oil burner the fuel has to be atomized (broken up into small droplets) by some method, pressure atomization for light oil, air atomization, steam atomization or centrifugal force (rotary burner) for heavy oil or a vaporizing "pot type burner" which vaporized the oil with heat

    Once it's atomized it has to be mixed with air before it is ignited, the better the mix the better the burn.

    You can't just dump it in a pan and set it on fire. Will it burn without being mixed with air first? Yes.

    But it will make more soot and smoke than heat.

    The only burner that used heat alone to atomize (actually vaporize) the oil which was marginally successful and never popular was the "pot type" burner

    And even those could only burn kero or #1 oil
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,344
    To follow up just a little on @Steamhead 's comment -- which is a critical part of control. You need to be able to shut the burner off -- completely -- virtually instantaneously in the event of a problem. As has been noted, in "standard" burners one shuts off the fuel and air flows, but it must be noted that not only is the fuel flow shut off -- but there is no remaining fuel. I have an impression that your silica gel arrangement is going to have considerable fuel in it after the drip or other flow is shut off. It might be possible to design a fail safe system to also completely remove access to additional air -- but it would have to be such that it activated on loss of power.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BDR529
    BDR529 Member Posts: 195
    Now put it in a sealed vessle and see what happens.
  • cowdog
    cowdog Member Posts: 18
    edited September 16

    I have an impression that your silica gel arrangement is going to have considerable fuel in it after the drip or other flow is shut off.

    You are right, because silica gel is porous and will adsorb oil on its surface, 10-20% to its own weight, so there will be some oil left in there after drip is shut off.

    The best work condition is not to saturate the silica gel, rather keep the silica gel relatively dry so air and oil will react on its surface, which requires drip speed control and maybe mechanical stirring of the silica gel. In this condition, not much oil is left on the silica gel.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 453
    edited September 16
    When you say heavy oil, are you speaking of Bunker C or #6 oil. If so, how do you get these 2 oils to drip? I would like to ask what are you trying to accomplish or invent? When burning oil as a fuel you need to vaporize the oil first as a wick can do, then add a controlled amount of air to mix with the flame to produce a "clean burn" with the least amount of excess air. When it comes to burning oil with a wick to produce heat or light, my only memories are being with my Grandfather at his camp in the 1950's, and him using his wick stove to cook dinner and his lantern for lighting.