In February this year, an automotive upholstery manufacturer in North Carolina announced that it was going to cut costs by installing Miura boilers to produce steam. Six Miura LX Series boilers were installed at NC-based Viscotec Automotive Products. The Japanese Miura Boiler was founded in 1927 and today is one of the largest industrial steam boiler manufacturers in the world. In 2006, Miura sold more boilers in North America than ever before in its history.
Miura boilers are environmentally-friendly as they produce 60 per cent less nitrous oxide or NOx emissions levels compared to conventional boilers. Recent technological innovations by Miura will reduce NOx emissions to near zero on future models.
Automotive Industries spoke to Mark Utzinger, vice president of Miura Boiler’s USA operations.
AI: Please tell us little about how Viscotec Automotive Products decided on Miura boilers for its plant?
MU. Viscotec knew of Miura Boilers out of Japan. They understood the concept of fuel savings and how Miura achieves this. Since this was a new plant, the size of the boilers was also a consideration. The smaller footprint requirements meant a much smaller boiler room size and associated construction cost savings.
AI: How popular have your boilers been with automotive manufacturers? Please give us some examples.
MU. Miura has always been a preferred choice of automotive manufacturers. Automotive clients include Chrysler, Ford, Honda, and Toyota. In addition, many automotive parts manufacturers such as Viscotec chose the benefits that the Miura Boiler design has to offer.
AI: Please tell us a little about how Miuras strong presence in North America – how did the company gain this position and what do you do to maintain it?
MU. Historically Miuras sales were primarily due to its compact size. It is among the smallest footprint for the output in the industry. However energy savings now dominate sales, since fuel prices have more than tripled in the last three years. We offer the most efficient, in-service system available for the industrial and commercial markets. We back this up with cutting edge, diagnostic capabilities not offered by any other boiler manufacturer.
AI: What are some of the factors that Miura has to take into account when selling to automotive manufacturers?
MU. Automotive plants and their suppliers have a broad range of steam requirements. Miura steam systems provide the flexibility for all these requirements, especially for sudden changes in load demand. We also provide state of the art multiple installations which insure steam is produced only when required – for maximum reliability and minimum fuel consumption.
AI: What are some of the new technologies Miura is working on to further reduce fuel and time consumption?
MU. Probably the single most important challenge in todays boiler industry is the reduction of fuel and time consumption?
This is what Viscotec had to say about the Miura LX Series boilers that were installed at Viscotec’s NC facility “We chose
Miura boilers because the quick start-up time and their ease-of use. We believe in the technology so strongly that we’ve been a Miura customer from the day we opened our doors. The reduced time to produce steam means that our fuel costs are lower, which is another major benefit we’ve gotten from these boilers,“ said Will Fritz, plant engineer at Viscotec Automotive Products.
Miura’s LX Series boilers feature the exclusive floating header design, which serves as the cornerstone of gas and oil savings by being able to produce full steam output within five minutes from a cold start.
Standard firetube boilers require over an hour, which contributes to their consuming up to 20 per cent more fuel per month. “With the cost of fuel higher than ever, and conservation of resources a priority for everyone, the savings on gas and oil made possible by Miura’s LX Series boilers are an extremely valuable advantage for Viscotec.
Over the course of a year, at the current price of USD 0.90/therm for natural gas, Miura’s Super LX Series boilers can save approximately USD 200,000 in fuel costs,“ says Miura. The company says that in a multiple installation such as Viscotec’s, Miura boilers can be turned on or off as needed, allowing the company to meet peak demand hours while operating at greater efficiency throughout the day and reducing wear and tear on the boilers.
Miura boilers also require less space and feature an online maintenance system with a sliding window feature that records an event four seconds before it occurs, so it can be diagnosed and corrected faster. “I initially had my reservations about them, because I had previously worked with coal-fired boilers, and the idea of producing steam in five minutes seemed too good to be true. But once I saw what these boilers could do, and how well they did it, I knew that going with Miura was the right decision. The boilers have performed wonderfully,“ says Viscotec’s Fritz in a press release. is to provide green technology, without sacrificing efficiency.
Many boiler technologies which try to go green, reduce the efficiency of the boiler itself. This defeats the purpose of reducing emissions if you have to burn more to make up for lost efficiency. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. The other method of reducing emissions AND raising efficiency is too expensive. The best systems are simple. Eliminate thermal stress, create steam only when required, and reduce flame temperatures without finicky control apparatus. This is the Miura design. Future models will provide simple controls, with realistic, practical technology to reduce NOx emissions to almost zero – without sacrificing any efficiency.