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Title:
FLUE GAS COMBUSTION APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/196705
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A flue gas combustion apparatus for processing uncombusted flue gas components utilizing a reactor body. The reactor body houses first and second spiral passageways for motivating flue gas and ambient air, respectively, in a countercurrent pattern. Heated ambient air feeds the flue gas in the reactor.

Inventors:
TORRES, Randolph (3689 Enea Drive, Pittsburg, CA, 94565, US)
Application Number:
US2017/031505
Publication Date:
November 16, 2017
Filing Date:
May 08, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TORRES, Randolph (3689 Enea Drive, Pittsburg, CA, 94565, US)
International Classes:
F23L15/04; B01J8/38; F23C10/00; F23J13/00; F23L15/00; F24B1/185; F24B1/188
Foreign References:
US4090558A1978-05-23
US20040058290A12004-03-25
US3509834A1970-05-05
FR2286345A11976-04-23
FR2717560A11995-09-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CALHOUN, Joe, D. (Calhoun Law Firm, P.O. Box 251504Little Rock, AR, 72225, US)
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Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED

1. A flue gas combustion apparatus receiving both flue gas from a burning unit and ambient air, comprising a reactor body having a first end portion, an opposite second end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween, said reactor body further comprising:

(a) a flue gas passageway having an entrance at said first portion and an exit at said second portion, said flue gas passageway extending through said intermediate portion of said reactor body between said first and second portions of said reactor body;

(b) an air passageway for conducting ambient air, said air passageway having an entrance at said second portion and an exit at said first portion; and

(c) an air shaft positioned adjacent said flue gas passageway, said exit of said air passageway feeding the air into said shaft, said shaft including at least one airway aperture providing fluid communication between said shaft and said flue gas passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein.

2. The apparatus described in claim 1 , said reactor body comprising a refractory body.

3. The apparatus described in claim 1, said refractory body comprising a ceramic refractory body.

4. The apparatus described in claim 1, wherein said flue gas passageway comprises a compact circuitous passageway and said air passageway comprises a compact circuitous route substantially parallel to said flue gas passageway and positioned to accept heat transfer from said flue gas passageway.

5. The apparatus described in claim 4, said passageways comprising spiral passageways.

6. The apparatus described in claim 2, said flue gas passageway positioned within said refractory body.

7. The apparatus described in claim 5, wherein said shaft is substantially surrounded by said spiral flue gas passageway, and said spiral flue gas passageway is substantially surrounded by said spiral air passageway.

8. The apparatus described in claim 7, further comprising an insulation layer at least partially surrounding said spiral air passageway.

9. The apparatus described in claim 1 , said reactor body comprising a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material defining said shaft and having a plurality of micropores as said airway apertures.

10. A flue gas combustion apparatus receiving both flue gas from a burning unit and ambient air, comprising a reactor body having a first end portion, an opposite second end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween, said reactor body further comprising a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material and comprising:

(a) a spiral flue gas passageway having an entrance receiving hot flue gas at said first portion and an exit at said second portion, said flue gas passageway extending through said intermediate portion of said reactor body and radiating heat therethrough;

(b) a spiral air passageway for conducting ambient air, said air passageway having an entrance receiving the air at said second portion and an exit at said first portion, and receiving heat radiated from said flue gas passageway;

(c) an air shaft positioned adjacent said flue gas passageway, said exit of said air passageway feeding heated air into said shaft; and

(d) at least one airway between said shaft and said flue gas passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein.

11. The apparatus described in claiml O, said refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material defining said shaft and having a plurality of micropores as said airway apertures.

12. The apparatus described in claim 1 1 , wherein the outer surface of said heat resistant and heat transferring material having micropores includes the inner wall of said flue gas passageway coiled around said shaft.

13. The apparatus described in claim 12, said air passageway coiled around said flue gas passageway.

14. The apparatus described in claiml3, further comprising a layer of insulation at least partially surrounding said air passageway.

15. A flue gas combustion apparatus receiving both flue gas from a burning unit and ambient air, comprising a reactor body having a lower end portion, an opposite upper end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween, said reactor body further comprising a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material and comprising:

(a) a flue gas passageway having an entrance receiving hot flue gas at said lower portion and an exit at said upper portion, said flue gas passageway extending through said intermediate portion of said reactor body and radiating heat therethrough;

(b) an air passageway for conducting ambient air, said air passageway having an entrance receiving the air at said upper portion and an exit at said lower portion, and receiving heat radiated from said flue gas passageway, said air passageway exit directing heated air into said flue gas passageway entrance; and

(c) at least one airway between said flue gas passageway and said air passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein.

16. The apparatus described in claiml5, said airway comprising a plurality of apertures between said flue gas passage way and said air passageway.

17. The apparatus described in claim 15, said airway comprising microporous material defining said flue gas passageway.

18. The apparatus described in claim 15 , comprising a plurality of alignable reactor bodies each of which comprises said upper portion terminating in an upper edge portion and said lower portion terminating in a lower edge portion, wherein said upper edge portion of one reactor body mates in functional alignment with said lower edge portion of another reactor body stacked thereon.

19. The apparatus described in claim 18, further comprising a plurality of said reactor bodies, each of which comprises:

(a) a cylindrical sleeve of microporous ceramic material defining said flue gas passageway and said airway, said sleeve including an upper margin converging inwardly and forming an outer ledge;

(b) a cylindrical shell of non-microporous ceramic material defining a cavity accepting telescopic insertion of said sleeve, said shell having an inner surface including a plurality of intermediate spacer elements assuring separation between said shell and said sleeve as said air passageway, said shell including an upper margin diverging outwardly and forming an inner ledge; wherein

(c) longitudinal expansion of said reactor body may be accomplished by stacking one reactor body atop another so that the lower edge of the top sleeve is supported upon the outer ledge of the bottom sleeve, and the lower edge of the shell is supported upon the inner ledge of the bottom shell.

Description:
INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION FOR UTILITY PATENT

UNDER THE PATENT COOPERATION TREATY

TITLE: FLUE GAS COMBUSTION APPARATUS

[001] This application is a continuation-in-part and claims the benefit of pending patent U.S. utility patent application No. 15/150, 101 filed May 9, 2016.

FIELD OF INVENTION

[002] The present application relates to a novel and useful flue gas combustion apparatus.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[003] Flue gasses generally emanate to the atmosphere via a flue or stack from fireplace, oven, furnace, boiler, steam generator, or the like. Flue gas is also often referred to as the combustion exhaust gases produced at a power plant. Flue gas exiting burning units consists mostly of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. However, a notable percentage of unburned hydrocarbons also exit flues.

[004] In the past, flue gas combustion recovery devices have been proposed to recycle particulate matter and to insure energy capture therefrom.

[005] For example, United States Patents 4,030,877, 4,449,51 1, and 4,558,689 describe waste gas heat recovery devices in which one or more heat exchangers are placed in the path of exhaust flue gases from a furnace to extract heat therefrom.

[006] United States Patent 4,981 , 1 1 1 shows a combustion unit in which exhaust fly ash is recovered according to particle size and where certain particles are used to control the temperature of the combustion zone of the reactor.

[007] United States Patent 4,392,610 shows a heat scavenger system in which the incoming air to a furnace is preheated by a heat exchanger which is connected to the exhaust flue of the furnace. [008] United States Patent 5,660, 148 shows a method for cooling the circulating material in a fluidized bed boiler which uses a heat exchanger to remove heat from the flue gas and recycle the cooled flue gases to the combustion chamber.

[009] United States Patent 3,302,683 shows a heat treatment apparatus in which incoming air to a burner cone is preheated by the use of an extraction cone. The incoming air and the exhaust air from the extraction cone pass against each other through a spiral heat exchanger.

[010] A flue gas combustion apparatus which recovers heat and energy from a burning unit would be a notable advance in the energy production arts.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[011] In accordance with the present application, a novel and useful flue gas combustion apparatus is herein described.

[012] The apparatus of the present application includes a reactor body having a first end portion, an opposite second end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween. A first spiral passageway for conducting flue gas extends from an entrance at the first end portion of the reactor body, through the intermediate portion of the reactor body, and exits at the second end portion of the reactor body.

[013] The reactor body further comprises a second spiral passageway for conducting ambient air. The second spiral passageway possesses an entrance at the second portion of the reactor body and an exit at the first portion of the reactor body. Thus, the first and second spiral passageways move counter-currently.

[014] The reactor body may include a refractory body housing the first spiral passageway. Also, a conduit may be mounted adjacent the refractory body and include the second spiral passageway. The first and second spiral passageway, in any case, would be positioned adjacent to one another to permit heat transfer between the first and second spiral passageways. [015] The reactor body also includes a shaft, plenam, or manifold which is centrally located within the first spiral passageway. At least one aperture is included for communicating air in the shaft to the first spiral passageway in the reactor body.

[016] It may be apparent that a novel and useful flue gas combustion apparatus has hereinabove been described. It is therefore an object of the present application to provide a flue gas combustion apparatus that is unitary in construction and permits the preheating of ambient air for secondary combustion of flue gas components exiting a burning unit.

[017] Another object of the present application is to provide a flue gas combustion apparatus that possesses a minimum number of moving parts.

[018] Another object of the present application is to provide a flue gas combustion apparatus which may be retrofitted to a burning unit to recover heat from secondary combustion of the flue gas components exiting the burning unit.

[019] Another object of the present application is to provide a flue gas combustion apparatus which utilizes counter- current flow to allow heat exchange between relatively cool ambient air and hot flue gases.

[020] Yet another object of the present application is to provide a flue gas combustion apparatus that recovers energy from unburned volatile hydrocarbons exiting a burning unit and uses the same for secondary useful processing.

[021] The invention possesses other objects and advantages especially as concerns particular characteristics and features 5 thereof which will become apparent as the specification continues.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[022] FIG. 1 is a sectional view of the reactor body of the present application.

[023] FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a portion of the reactor body of FIG. 1.

[024] FIG. 3 is a schematic drawing emphasizing the spiral paths of the first and second spiral passageways of the reactor body of FIG. 1 and 2. [025] FIG. 4 is a block diagram indicating the positioning of the apparatus of the present application with a hearth or furnace.

[026] FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a representative sample of a reactor body of an alternative embodiment.

[027] FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a representative sample of a reactor body of another alternative embodiment, with the refractory body including a central core having void network and the passageways in a spiral configuration.

[028] FIG. 7 is a bottom plan view of a representative sample of a reactor body of yet another alternative embodiment.

[029] FIG. 8 is a sectional view thereof at plane 8— 8 of FIG. 7, having a more linear vertical arrangement of passageways within stackable expansion units.

[030] FIG. 9 is a sectional view of two stacked reactor bodies, at plane 8— 8 of FIG. 7

[031] For a better understanding of the invention, reference is made to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments thereof which should be referenced to the prior described drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[032] Various aspects of the present application will evolve from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, which should be referenced to the prior delineated drawings.

[033] The apparatus as a whole is depicted in the drawings by reference character (10). Apparatus (10) includes a reactor body (12), which is shown as being cylindrical in shape, FIG. 4. Reactor body (12) includes a first portion (14), a second portion (16), and an intermediate portion (18). Reactor body (12) is also formed with a refractory body (20), which may be constructed of a ceramic or similar material. In addition, a conduit (22) lies adjacent refractory body (20) and essentially wraps around the outer surface or wall (24) thereof. Insulation layer (25) overlies conduit (22).

[034] A first spiral passageway (26) extends from first portion (14), through intermediate portion ( 18), and to second portion (16) of reactor body (12). Spiral passageway (26) is intended to carry and combust flue gas. Directional arrow (28) indicates the entrance to spiral passageway (26) for flue gas. Likewise, directional arrow (30) shows the exiting of flue gas from spiral passageway (26) through a stack (32). Consequently, openings (34) and (36) of spiral passageway (26) mark the entrance and exit, respectively, to first spiral passageway (26).

[035] Conduit (22) also serves to enclose a second spiral passageway (38), which serves to conduct ambient air through entrance (40), directional arrow (42), and out through exit (44), directional arrow 46. It should be noted that first spiral passageway (26) is in sufficient proximity to second spiral passageway (38) to allow heat transfer from first spiral passageway (26) to second spiral passageway (38). Such heat transfer is indicated by plurality of jagged arrows (48), FIGS. 1 and 2. Such heat transfer takes place chiefly by conduction through and radiation from refractory body (20).

[036] It should be further apparent that reactor body (12) includes a central shaft, plenam, or manifold (50), which communicates with the exit (44) of second spiral passageway (38) through a channel of conventional configuration (not shown). Directional arrow (52) indicates such movement of heated ambient air from second spiral passageway (38) to central shaft (50), which lies inside first spiral passageway (26).

[037] A plurality of apertures (54) connect first spiral passageway (26) with shaft (50). Such plurality of apertures (54) are best shown in FIG. 2 as apertures (56) a, (58), (60), and (62). Thus, heated air in central shaft (50) will pass through plurality of apertures (54) into first spiral passageway (26). Such movement would be motivated by the travelling of flue gas through first spiral passageway (26) and the sizing of plurality of apertures (48). An exit valve (63) may be employed to balance and/or initiate the flow of heated air through plurality of apertures (54) to first spiral passageway (38). In addition, a separate valve, such as a butterfly valve, may be employed to regulate the inflow of air to conduit (22) at entrance (40).

[038] FIG. 3 schematically represents the countercurrent travelling of ambient air through second passageway (38), shown by dashed lines, and flue gas travelling through first spiral passageway (26), shown by solid lines. In this manner, heat is transferred between the relatively hot flue gas passing through first spiral passageway (26) to the ambient air moving counter-currently through second spiral passageway (38).

[039] In operation, apparatus (10) is placed above a hearth or furnace (64), FIG. 4 to receive flue gas therefrom. Flue gas (66) includes combustible material such as unburned hydrocarbons. Combustion unit ( 10) receives ambient air, directional arrow (68). Flue gas (66) is directed to the entrance (34) of first spiral passageway (26) of reactor body (12) and moves in a spiral direction, as indicated by FIG. 3, to exit (36). At the same time, ambient air is passed into second spiral passageway (38) through entrance (40) and moves in an opposite spiral direction, FIG. 3, to exit (44). Heat is exchanged between the flue gas passing through passageway (26) to the ambient air travelling through second spiral passageway (38), via refractory body (20), jagged arrows (48). At this juncture, the heated ambient air is directed to central shaft (50), directional arrow (52). Heated ambient air is then fed into first spiral passageway (26) through plurality of apertures (54) to aid in the further combustion of hot flue gas within first spiral passageway (26). In other words, such combustion takes place in first spiral passageway (26) as the flue gas travels between entrance (34) and exit (36). A flame source may be added to insure such combustion but the heat of the flue gas entering first spiral passageway is generally sufficient for combustion. Flue gas exiting combustion unit apparatus (10) is then gathered from stack (32) and used for further thermal processing (70), such as heating a space, operating a turbine, and to fulfill any other thermal work. [040] In another embodiment, the first and second passageways need not have a spiraling configuration. For example, both passageways may have an undulating configuration, a curving configuration, a zig zag configuration or a straight configuration. What is important is that both passageways maintain close enough proximity with the other passageway to accomplish the heat exchange from the first (flue gas) passageway to the air in the second passageway, and be accompanied by the central shaft in close enough proximity to the first passageway for transfer of heated air to the first passageway.

[041] In another embodiment, the refractory body or portion thereof may be made of ceramic or similar heat resistant or resilient and heat transferring material, capable of being produced or formed with airways integral in the material. (As used herein, "heat resistant" includes heat transferring and resistance to thermal shock; essentially any material that can withstand the heat temperatures experienced in the context of usage, and radiate such heat without becoming damaged or materially degraded.) For example, the portion of the refractory body forming the wall and connection between the central shaft and the first (flue gas) passageway may be formed with such material in such a manner as to eliminate or reduce the need for air apertures connecting the central shaft and the first passageway. Moreover, portions of the first (flue gas) passageway within the refractory body that are adjacent or adjoining that wall may be formed of the same material. For example, ceramic or similar material requiring curing with extreme heat (such as firing in a kiln) may have mixed within it another void-producing material that will evaporate or burn away during such curing, leaving a void in the space occupied by that void-producing material before evaporating or burning away. When sufficiently and properly mixed with the ceramic or similar material, such void-producing material will form a network of voids functioning as airways between the central shaft and the first (flue gas) passageway. The connection between the central shaft and the first passageway may be accomplished with many microscopic airways that will allow the preheated oxidizer air to pass into the first passageway, yet maintain a pressure differential.

[042] FIG. 5 depicts a cross-section of a representative sample of an alternative embodiment of the flue gas combustion apparatus. Typically, the overall configuration is cylindrical or oval in shape, although any configuration may be used that satisfies the structural and functional requirements of providing a (preferably) compact arrangement for flue gas passageway to heat the air passageway, which directs the heated air back into the entrance of the flue gas passageway.

[043] FIG. 6 depicts a cross-section of a representative sample of another alternative embodiment of the flue gas combustion apparatus, having a central core that is essentially a microporous cylinder composed of ceramic, clay or other heat resistant and transferring properties, forming a network of microscopic airways.

[044] The outer surface of that core forms the inner wall of the first (flue gas) passageway that spirals upwardly around the core defining the central shaft or manifold. The remainder of the spiraling first passageway is solid ceramic, having no airways. Spiraling around the solid exterior wall of the flue gas passageway is the counterflowing second (ambient air) passageway, constructed of solid ceramic as well; it accepts the heat emanating from the flue gas passageway, thereby heating the ambient air traveling to the central shaft of the core. Depending upon whether it is more advantageous to shed the heat emanating from the flue gas passageway, a layer of insulation may cover the outer surface of the second (ambient air) passageway to lessen the effects of thermal radiation into the surroundings.

[045] Accordingly, when the heated ambient air moves from the second passageway to the central shaft (which is typically centrally located and surrounded by the heat-producing first passageway), the air will be further heated and expanded into and through the void network and into the first passageway. Such transfer of heated air from the central shaft to the first passageway will be further aided by the pulling of air into the first passageway by the travel of heated flue gas upward within the first passageway.

[046] One particular embodiment of the flue gas combustion apparatus, depicted in FIG. 1 , comprises a reactor body having a first end portion, an opposite second end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween. The reactor body further includes:

(a) a flue gas passageway having an entrance at the first portion and an exit at the second portion, the flue gas passageway extending through the intermediate portion of the reactor body between the first and second portions of the reactor body;

(b) an air passageway for conducting ambient air, the air passageway having an entrance at the second portion and an exit at the first portion; and

(c) an air shaft positioned adjacent the flue gas passageway, the exit of the air passageway feeding the air into the shaft. The shaft may further include at least one airway aperture providing fluid communication between the shaft and the flue gas passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein.

[047] The reactor body may include a refractory body which is resistant to heat (such as resistant to thermal shock, and heat transferring). Prime examples of material suitable for the refractory body include a ceramic or clay refractory body; however, any type of material is suitable so long as it satisfies the structural and heat transferring functions required for the invention described herein.

[048] In one embodiment, the flue gas passageway comprises a compact circuitous passageway and the air passageway. Ideally the air passageway will be arranged in a compact circuitous route substantially parallel to the flue gas passageway and positioned to accept heat transfer from the flue gas passageway. An example of one such arrange includes spiral passageways; however, any arrangement is suitable so long as it satisfies the heat transferring and air transferring functions required for the invention described herein. [049] The flue gas passageway is typically positioned within the refractory body, so that the heat of the hot flue gas may be transferred as radiant heat to the air within the air passageway. In one embodiment, the shaft is substantially surrounded by the spiral flue gas passageway, and the spiral flue gas passageway is substantially surrounded by the spiral air passageway (in counterflowing directions).

[050] The apparatus may further include an insulation layer at least partially surrounding the spiral air passageway. The amount of insulation coverage or thickness may be a manner of adjusting the amount of radiant heat provided by the apparatus by the surroundings.

[051] In another embodiment of the apparatus, depicted in FIG. 6, the reactor body includes a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material defining the shaft and having a plurality of micropores or other microscopic airways, as the airway apertures.

[052] One preferred embodiment of a flue gas combustion apparatus, includes a reactor body having a first end portion, an opposite second end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween. The reactor body further includes a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material and includes:

(a) a spiral flue gas passageway having an entrance receiving hot flue gas at the first portion and an exit at the second portion, the flue gas passageway extending through the intermediate portion of the reactor body and radiating heat therethrough;

(b) a spiral air passageway for conducting ambient air, the air passageway having an entrance receiving the air at the second portion and an exit at the first portion, and receiving heat radiated from the flue gas passageway;

(c) an air shaft positioned adjacent the flue gas passageway, the exit of the air passageway feeding heated air into the shaft; and

(d) at least one airway between the shaft and the flue gas passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein. [053] The refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material may also define the shaft, and have a plurality of micropores as the airway apertures (As depicted in FIG. 6). The outer surface of the heat resistant and heat transferring material having micropores may also form the inner wall of the flue gas passageway coiled around the shaft. The air passageway may be coiled around the flue gas passageway, especially in a counter-flow direction. The apparatus may further include a layer of insulation at least partially surrounding the air passageway, to prevent nearby people from getting burned, and to otherwise slow down the heat radiation into the surroundings.

[054] Another preferred embodiment of the flue gas combustion apparatus, depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8, essentially comprises a cylindrical, oval, oblong or regularly shaped wall (202) forming a flue gas passageway (201), which is telescopically received within a similarly-shaped outer shell (204) having a plurality of spacers (206) attached to or incorporated into the inner surface of the shell wall; the spacers cause separation between the outer shell's inner surface and the outer surface of the flue gas passageway, which spacing functions as an air passageway (21 1). Together, they form a reactor body. However, in an embodiment providing for segmented lengthwise expansion, the upper margin of the outer shell diverges outwardly, whereas the upper margin of the flue gas passageway diverges inwardly; together, they form a female end accepting insertion of the lower end of a second reactor body, for longitudinal expansion. In one embodiment, the divergence of the outer shell forms an inner ledge (208), that will support the lower edge of the outer shell stacked thereon; the convergence of the flue gas passageway forms an outer ledge (210), that will support the lower edge of the outer shell stacked thereon.

[055] The spacers may be any protuberance the satisfies the structural and functional requirements of assuring separation between the outer shell and the inner sleeve. The spacers may be separate blocks, shunts, studs, buttons, ribs or any other configuration satisfying those requirements. [056] In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8, the combined flue gas passageway nested telescopically within the outer shell essentially forms a reactor body having a lower end portion, an opposite upper end portion, and an intermediate portion therebetween. The reactor body further includes a refractory body constructed of heat resistant and heat transferring material, and includes:

(a) a flue gas passageway (201) having an entrance receiving hot flue gas at the lower portion and an exit at the upper portion, the flue gas passageway extending through the intermediate portion of the reactor body and radiating heat therethrough;

(b) an air passageway (21 1) for conducting ambient air, the air passageway having an entrance receiving the air at the upper portion and an exit at the lower portion, and receiving heat radiated from the flue gas passageway, the air passageway exit feeding heated air into the flue gas passageway entrance; and

(c) at least one airway between the flue gas passageway and the air passageway for passage of air for combustion of the flue gas therein.

[057] The apparatus ideally includes a plurality of apertures between the flue gas passageway and the air passageway. The airway may preferably include microporous material defining the flue gas passageway. (FIG. 8.) As hot flue gas is exhausted from a hearth or similar burning unit, it flows upwardly and into the flue gas combustion chamber (201 ) defined by the walls constructed of porous heat resistant material such as microporous ceramic. Heat radiates outwardly from the flue gas traveling up the flue gas passageway. Countercurrent air flowing down the air passageway (21 1) is thereby heated. The heat radiates through the whole unit; the oxidiser preheat section (air passageway) both extracts heat to preheat the air flow, and it cools the exterior portion of the refractory body.

[058] That heated air exits the bottom of the air passageway, and is directed into the flue gas passageway, where it adds heat to the hot flue gas to aid in further combustion of the non- combusted particles. Some of the heated air exiting the bottom of the air passageway may also be directed to the hearth, to aid in combustion of the fuel being burned.

[059] There is also an expandable embodiment of the apparatus, which includes a plurality of alignable reactor bodies. Each of the reactor bodies has the upper portion terminating in an upper edge portion, and the lower portion terminating in a lower edge portion. For expansion of length (and combustion of more of the non-combusted elements in the flue gas), the upper edge portion of one reactor body mates in functional alignment with the lower edge portion of another reactor body stacked thereon. For example, one end of the reactor body may have a "female end" (221 ), accepting insertion of the opposite end of an adjoining reactor body. See FIG. 9.

[060] Not always depicted are standard items or features known in the art. For example, connections between the hearth's flue gas exhaust and the flue gas inlet of the disclosed apparatus may be any form of connection known in the field. The same goes for the connection between the flue gas exhaust of the disclosed apparatus, and any other flue gas pathway thereafter (such as a stack). The same goes for the connection between any source of ambient air and the air intake of the disclosed apparatus. Similarly, the passageway for transferring heated air from the air exit of the disclosed apparatus and its central shaft may be formed in any manner known in the field.

[061] The apparatus may include a base unit, including a means establishing a fluid connection between the flue of the hearth and the flue gas passageway of the apparatus, and a means establishing a fluid connection between the air passageway and the flue gas passageway of the apparatus. The base unit may also include a means establishing a fluid connection between the air passageway exit and the hearth, for directing heated air to the burning unit.

[062] While in the foregoing embodiments of the invention have been set forth in considerable detail for the purposes of making a complete disclosure of the invention it may be apparent to those of skill in the art that numerous changes may be made in such details without departing from the spirit and principles of the invention.




 
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