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Apparatus for converting a liquid to vapour. A boiler consists of a furnace in which fuel is burned, surfaces to transmit heat from the combustion products to the water (or other liquid), and a space where steam (or vapour) can form and collect. A conventional boiler burns a fossil fuel or waste fuel; a nuclear reactor may instead supply the heat. There are two types of conventional steam boiler. In a fire-tube boiler, the water surrounds the steel tubes through which hot gases from the furnace flow; easy to install and operate, fire-tube boilers are widely used to heat buildings and to provide power for factory processes, as well as in steam locomotives. In a water-tube boiler, the water is inside tubes, with the hot furnace gases circulating outside the tubes; water-tube boilers, which produce more and hotter steam, are used in ships and factories. The largest are found in the central-station power plants of public utilities; other large units are used in steel mills, paper mills, oil refineries, and chemical plants. See alsosteam engine.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on boiler, visit Britannica.com.