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 also steam engine.
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