KEH Energy Expertise


KEH semi-retirement Change in status
Cycling Spreadsheet in Excel" Boiler Operator's Handbook
Harvard Technology Middle East KEH Boiler Log program
Mystery of the missing water KEH published online with Control Engineering
KEH adds K-pipe flexibility analysis KEH testimony helps recover $286,536.00
MDE Approves Computer Based NOx Training Don't Preserve Oversized Antiques
Back-flow Prevention Isn't Simple FE - the novel
Economizer Decreases Boiler Efficiency! CYCLING EFFICIENCY
Operator Examinations Lead to Big Savings RIF's can be Rough on Revenues
Recycling Chemical Plant Condensate Economizers Economically Replace Air Heaters
Are Our Schools Safe? One Plant, $750,000 in Energy Savings
What's a WADITW Worth? Return to KEH home page

July 21, 2016


Consistent with other organizations, KEH has increased fees for consulting and serving as an expert witness, seminars, and boiler operator training.

KEH Semi-retirement, updated in spurts

November 2016

Settled on a new home in Port Saint Lucie, Florida and began the process of unpacking and setting up our new home with an attached mother-in-law suite for Sue's sister who is deaf. Spending every day working on making the new house a home. Elected to retire my professional engineering licenses.

June 17, 2016

Ken and Sue sold their house in Maryland and started the search in Florida for a new home while full timing in their motorhome. This will be more fully retired but not without serving the special requests of some customers.

January 2008

No matter what your age, after you entered the work force you've said it, "I'm going to see that, visit there, etc." Those of us that have been doing that for more than forty-five years finally realize there's only a little time left to do it and that list of things and places is so long that we had better get started. So, as of now Ken Heselton is officially semi-retired and starting do things and go places. For the few wiseacres who'll say "he's been semi-retired for the past 12 years," it will be different. "I'll still work on the interesting stuff, boiler and burner failures mainly, just to keep from going stale. And I'll conduct seminars for anyone that wants to learn. But, that's all." It's been a great ride, but it's time to really smell the roses.

December 2007, updated August 2018

Change in status

KEH, after dedicating over 50 years to the improvement of boiler efficiency and performance, has started stepping down. Memberships in ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), AEE (the Association of Energy Engineers) and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Regrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) and CEM (Certification as an Energy Manager) are all discontinued. Efforts to produce the boiler log program are also terminated because the computer software industry is changing so fast Ken can't keep up with it.

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August 2004

Boiler Operator's Handbook Available

KEH has just finished preparing a boiler operator's handbook which will be published by Fairmont Press. In writing it Ken made every effort to avoid the normal criticism of operator's handbooks. This one was written by a boiler operator for boiler operators, even though the author is an engineer. Every effort to address the operation of the plant not its engineering; you of course, will be the final judge of that.

The book includes the typical graphs and charts but tuned to boiler operator's needs. There's a steam table but the pressures are listed in gage pressure, not absolute. That's just one of the ways Ken has tried to make this book operator friendly.

Save 10%, the Handbook is available by using Order Code 0532 at AEE Center

One person's opinion of the handbook:

Dear Mr. Heselton

First of I would like to thank you for compiling such a comprehensive book which hardly leaves out anything to imagination or an unknown phenomenon. Avanceon (my company) offers performance improvement solutions for steam systems and we use your handbook as a bible for any reference. Our design besides using open protocol or standard control systems also utilizes our own proprietary performance monitoring and optimization systems. ....

Bakhtiar H. Wain
640 Rice Boulevard, Exton, PA 19341
P: 610.458.8700 Ext. 222
F: 610.458.0606
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December 2003

Harvard Technology Middle East

KEH Energy Engineering has gone international with the presentation of seminars on boiler water treatement for Harvard Technology, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. Serving as a seminar instructor for Total Boiler Control Ken Heselton has conducted two seminars in the Emirates and has developed a respect and understanding of the people of that region. Another seminar is scheduled for December of 2004.

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June 2002

KEH Boiler Log program

Note added 1/1/2008; this concept is probably no longer a reality. The program was actually up and running at the Maryland House of Correction for several years as a DOS based program. Ken just hasn't kept up with the changes in software design and, with the advent of Vista, realized he probably won't. If someone's interested in working on a modern log program, Ken will be glad to provide input.

The modern age of computers may provide lots of data to analyze but the costs of installing data acquisition systems in boiler plants is frequently considered too high. The truth is, you have data acquisition and getting into a computer data format doesn't have to cost a fortune. KEH is developing a boiler log program that allows you to build a database using information collected and input by your boiler operator as his log. The operating program is in Beta testing and has the following features: (1) The program will run on almost any computer, even those that are not Y2K compliant, so the cost of putting a computer in the boiler room for the operator to use is about $50. (2) The screen display looks just like a log book, simplifying the operator's learning to use it and translating his log data to the computer [I don't recommend you abandon the written log] (3) Meter calculations are performed automatically and a shift (or daily) report is displayed to show how much steam was generated per quantity of fuel burned [if steam and fuel meters are provided] or other measures of plant performance (4) Fuel oil inventory maintenance is included for those that can't afford the expensive tank monitoring equipment or question the performance of what they have (5) Generates an operating hour report for equipment where hours are input to facilitate maintenance scheduling and insure you aren't operating so everything wears out at once (6) Produces graphic displays of data to allow the operator to check trends by simply pressing the "G" key (7) Provides a search engine for finding text in the operator's notes (8) Comma delimited data files can be output for analysis using other programs or incorporation into another database (9) Operator active provisions can be incorporated to send out an alarm if the boiler plant operator hasn't actively used the program for a set period of time [requires addition of a modem and phone line connection but could save an operator's life]

The log setup program, which creates the computerized boiler log to match your plant and systems is now in development. KEH will need some Beta testers to check the validity of that program in the future (about November of 2007)

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May 2001

Mystery of the missing water

When a customer is suddenly shocked with a $21,000 quarterly water bill that's normally less than $7,000 he calls KEH to find out why. To make a long story short, the disappearing water is still a mystery. Checks of the water company's calculations, the meter itself and all plant operations showed water usage to be normal. The only condition related to the water loss was the short term employment of a maintenance man, in a period consistent with the excessive water use, who can not be found.

The moral of this story is to do what KEH recommended the customer do thereafter. Take regular readings of your water meter and compare the usage to normal so you can detect any major problems with water consumption. Water is not an inexpensive utility that can be ignored, especially when we're facing potential drought conditions.

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May 1, 2000

KEH published online with Control Engineering

An article describing Ken Heselton's encounters with unique situations of incomplete combustion is published online in Control Engineering magazine as their May 2000 Web exclusive. This is one example of the many stories Ken can tell that will help young engineers learn from the mistakes of others.

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June 1, 2000

KEH adds K-pipe flexibility analysis

KEH Energy Engineering now provides computerized piping flexibility analysis using the CAEPIPE (prounounced "K-pipe") program prduced by "SST Systems of San Jose, California">. This program allows rapid assessment of the flexibility of piping systems and produces a large volume of reports that provides all the essential information about the movement, forces, and moments within the piping system.

More importantly, the program develops precise values of forces and moments at equipment connections so forces at pump, turbine, and pressure vessel nozzles are known. This information proves to be even more important than the stress in the piping because the loads allowed by API-610 (for pumps) and Sm-23 (for turbines) are considerably lower than loads imposed by a system with moderate pipe stresses. Also, all hazardous material piping systems are supposed to be subjected to analysis according to OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management of Hazardous Chemicals

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December 1, 1999

KEH testimony helps recover $286,536.00

KEH Energy Engineering provided expert testimony in a case involving the inadequate performance of two new boilers at an apartment complex in Washington D.C. He was able to convince the arbiters that the contractor had assembled the boilers improperly and show how that led to poor performance and fire side explosions. The attorney for the plaintiff claimed KEH was "instrumental in achieving this result."

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April 14, 1999

KEH computer based NOx training approved by MDE

KEH Energy Engineering received acceptance from MDE to provide the computer based training program as the second installment (follow-up) of a multi-part course. This will permit compliance with the regulations for training at three year intervals at a lower cost. The operators can review the course at home on their own computer or in the plant on the plant's IBM compatible. Cost of overtime for training will be reduced dramatically. (KEH does suggest the employer offer the operator's one or two hour's overtime for successfully completing the course.)

The computerized training can only be implemented after the owner's operators take the initial NOx training.

The operators will be able to learn the material at their own pace and review it whenever they want to. If someone is having difficulty with the program he, or she, will be able to call or e-mail KEH with questions. The class on disk will remain the property of the owner and can be reviewed as often as desired.

To receive their certificates operators will be required to take a quiz, also conducted in computer software. It will cover the content of the class and will be no problem to anyone who has reviewed the computer course. A certificate will be issued for each operator that returns a passing quiz disk.

Plans are in the works to produce another software package to serve as a complete review of the first class. It should be available early next year.

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August 1999

Don't preserve oversized antiques

During a recent study of an office building heating plant KEH discovered repairs and upgrades in progress on the two largest and oldest boilers in the plant. When the loads were analyzed it was clear that the two new boilers in the plant were capable of carrying the plant at any time. The two old units should have been abandoned. A new, substantially smaller boiler could be added to increase the operating efficiency of the plant and lower the overall life cycle costs.

That was yet another example of the persistence of "outsized" boilers which KEH has addressed with cycling efficiency and other means of analysis. It's interesting to note that since KEH introduced the term "outsized" the EPA's Energy Star program is now calling for "rightsizing."

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FE - The novel

FE is a contraction of the abbreviation FJEPPTV, for Fluidic Jet Engine Powered Personal Transportation Vehicle, pronounced "fee." Within the first eight years of the 21st century it replaced the automobile as the primary means of transportation in the United States. It is a rapid means of transportation that runs on imaginary highways laid out in the sky by digital electronic signals. The first FE's transported one person with minimal cargo, a maximum payload of 300 pounds, between two "docks" at 360 miles per hour except for docking and undocking.

A dock provides direct communication between the vehicle and a central computer that serves as the flight controller for the entire transportation system used by the vehicles, providing an electronic flight plan to each vehicle before it leaves the dock. The dock also serves as a frame that holds the lightweight FE on the ground when it isn't airborne.

A human interface is required to inform the system where the person using the vehicle wishes to go and, because people need a sense of control, to respond to that person in a deferential and informative manner. Man and machine communicate conversationally.

To get from point A to point B a person simply steps into the FE at point A, says where he (or she) wants to go and receives an audible response from the on board computer when the flight plan is loaded. The person then relaxes, sleeps, reads, watches television, or whatever can be done while reclining as the vehicle leaves the dock, flys along a prescribed route through the "Skyway," then settles into a preassigned dock at the destination, point B.

The complete automation eliminates any need for training people to operate the vehicle. If someone wishes to use an FE to travel to destinations that do not contain a dock, that person is required to obtain a pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Manually controlled flight is limited to landing and taking off from the site that doesn't contain a dock.

The mode of power for an FE, (the fluidic jet engine) and its on-board computer, represent technology the United States Military considers top secret, so use of the FE abroad was delayed until 2010. Unauthorized tampering with an engine or the computer will result in self destruction of the vehicle. Not an explosion with a big fireball and injury to the person, or persons, doing the tampering; the engines simply shatter to dust and the computer overheats and burns up.

The FE has revolutionized transportation. However, at any instant the system has complete control over millions of people's lives so it qualifies as a target for terrorism. The first threats were, quite obviously, from the many companies and people who foresaw the FE as eliminating them and their jobs. Those problems were stemmed in the first few years after development and transportation by the FE has been safe and reliable since.

Now it's 2012 and a new threat to the FE suddenly appears. The computer system that controls the docks suddenly locks up for several hours, leaving people suspended in their vehicles up in the air all over the country. Some run out of fuel and drop to the ground on the automatically deployed parachutes. While the public is informed that it was just a rare and corrected computer glitch, authorities are told it was intentional and similar incidents will be repeated if a ransom isn't paid. The Director of the FAA calls in a team of specialists, including her old boyfriend that worked with her when she was an administration police officer. The team grows to include the men who implemented the concept of the FE, a son of one of them, and the young woman that provided the tools that blocked all hacker attacks on the system - until now.

The blackmailer decides to prove his point by creating a few accidents, something that the FE system had virtually eliminated. One of the little vehicles crashes into FAA headquarters while our investigative team is meeting, barely missing the Director's office. Having demonstrated he, or she, can bring the system down, the blackmailer sets a deadline and the FAA team expends considerable effort to prevent the blackmailer carrying out the threat and catching him, or her.

The characters are involved in a variety of situations. The Director and her former boyfriend are unsettled, they were in love but she advanced quickly and he left the Agency. The young, very bright programmer left the development team suddenly and had refused to return until now. Why she agreed to return now is not clear until the end. When they finally realize the blackmailer is one of her old boyfriends, one she dumped and had shared much of her knowledge of the computer programs with, (including her passwords) there are only a few minutes left to prevent him forcing all the FEs in the air to crash into the ground at full speed.

Download the novel in WordPerfect format
Download the novel in Word format

January 1999

Back-flow prevention of hot water boilers isn't simple

The incident at the school in Baltimore (see are our schools safe, November 7, 1997) was one of many that has provoked legislation to install back-flow prevention on the cold water lines feeding potable hot water heating boilers. The problem with those requirements is they will provoke other failures. If your plumbing or boiler code now requires back-flow prevention you should include an expansion tank.

A true back-flow prevention device on the feed to a potable water heating boiler will operate regularly because there will always be times after a heavy draw of hot water when there is no use of it. Since the boiler is bottled up between closed faucets and the back-flow device the pressure will rise until the back-flow device operates. Inertia prevents the boiler heating the water the instant it enters; therefore, the cold water added to the system is heated. And, as it is heated it expands. The expansion is minimal but with no place to go (it used to squeeze back into the cold water line a few inches) it increases the boiler pressure. An expansion tank is necessary

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November 10, 1998

Economizer decreases boiler efficiency!

During investigation into opportunities for more energy savings in an existing building KEH discovered the common economizer was actually generating a load resulting in an overall decrease in boiler efficiency. One large economizer sized to accommodate the three connected boilers actually cooled the boiler feedwater from 227 degrees F down to 215 degrees F because tramp air leakage through the two idle boilers (plant load was less than half the capacity of the one operating boiler) actually did the cooling. Do you have a common economizer? If so, you should be monitoring it.

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June 18, 1998

Cycling efficiency from Energy Engineering

How efficient is a boiler that cycles? Is that old boiler that's two, three, or four times larger than necessary operating efficiently? How much can we save by replacing that fixed fire burner with a lo-hi-lo or modulating burner?

To answer those questions KEH has developed a computer model that calculates the efficiency of a cycling boiler. To date it has proven that an office building owner can replace his existing 35 horsepower heating boiler with a 12.5 horsepower unit and pay for that new boiler out of fuel savings in less than 5 years. That's a 20% return on the investment!

The spreadsheet is described in Volume 95, No. 4 of ENERGY ENGINEERING and can be obtained free from KEH but we ask you to share the savings. Click below to get a complete description of the spreadsheet and download it. It's now available in an Excel Version

Cycling Efficiency Analysis Spreadsheet
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May 15, 1998

Boiler Operator examinations lead to big savings

Training of your boiler operators can produce big dividends. For one customer more than $100,000 per year. KEH Energy Engineering has produced many hours of operator training courses to convert personnel into profit protectors and contributors to safety and the environment.

January 20, 1998

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RIF's can be Rough on Revenues

The boiler was down for an hour and the entire campus was in an uproar. How much of the money saved (by reducing the boiler plant operating staff) was lost in that hour remains unknown. It is possible the loss exceeded the savings - dramatically. If you're considering eliminating positions in operating and/or maintenance positions don't do it without a full risk assessment and analysis of what can be done to mitigate that risk. You don't want to find yourself explaining to the boss why production was lost due to a steam outage or a major equipment breakdown.

Can you reduce an operating staff or combine responsibilities to increase productivity without incurring unnecessary risk? Yes you can, but it takes more than simply leaving positions vacant and laying people off. Spend a couple of years' savings on personnel training, automatic control, low maintenance replacements, and building monitoring systems so the remaining people can be as productive as the original staff.

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December 27, 1997

Recycling Chemical Plant Condensate

A customer is about to realize energy savings of over $30,000 per year by simply recycling condensate. The potential hazards of contaminated condensate compel most chemical manufacturers to discharge it to waste rather than return it to the boilers. Despite the energy losses KEH Energy Engineering knows from experience that it is a prudent practice. There are, however, possible uses for that condensate.

This customer was heating 20 gpm of city water to 120 degrees to feed a scrubber that cleans atmospheric exhausts. At the same time 16 gpm of steam condensate at 180 degrees was discharging to the waste treatment plant. KEH recommended the condensate be pumped to the scrubber, eliminating the heating load and reducing the waste water treatment plant load by 16 gpm.

In addition to the energy savings the customer will save on treatment chemicals at the boilers and the waste treatment plant plus a significant reduction in the water bill. The project to install the pump, wiring, piping and insulation is estimated at $13,000 for a payback within five months.

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November 7, 1997

Economizers replace air heaters economically on industrial boilers

At least two plants have discovered it's beneficial to replace a regenerative air heater with an economizer on small industrial boilers. Regenerative air heaters have the potential to save more thermal energy because the inlet air temperature is so much lower but higher maintenance costs, problems with blockage, and higher power costs to overcome the additional pressure losses and pump leakage air are significant on industrial boilers. One customer is replacing his four air heaters and another is contemplating replacing his unit.

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Are our schools safe?

The failure of boiler components in June of 1996 at a Baltimore City School resulted in the scalding injury of a very young girl. The boiler operating control, high limit, and safety valve all failed such that boiling hot water backed up the cold water lines to be relieved through the flushometer of the toilet the youngster was using. KEH was consulted by the local newspapers and an organization that handles insurance risk for area schools regarding the incident. There were several prior warnings before the injury and the boiler continued to fire for a considerable period after the incident before someone with a grain of intelligence finally turned off the switch.

It's almost impossible for an operating control and two safeties to fail simultaneously. Subsequent inspections by the Maryland State Boiler Inspectors revealed boilers with defective controls and safeties in a number of other schools. All that despite the fact the contracted inspection agency had issued operating certificates for those boilers. This experience shows that all the normal safeguards do not always do the job. This is evidence of inadequate maintenance driven by a combination of political pressure to keep taxes down and teacher's salaries up. If you're an engineer with children in school you should make it a point to insist on inspecting your child's school to ensure the heating equipment is not neglected.

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Study reveals potential $750,000 in savings

KEH Energy Engineering just finished an analysis of the boilers and auxiliaries in a major chemical plant in the Baltimore area. Potential savings of more than three quarters of a million dollars are possible if all the alternatives revealed by the report were implemented. Periods of return on investment varied from less than a year to seven years. The largest savings potential, $425,000 per year, could be recognized by cogeneration. Other annual savings included benefits from insulation - at least $3,500, procedure changes in operating pumps - $16,000, new controls $80,000, and a condensing heat exchanger for make-up water -$160,000.

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What's a WADITW worth?

$5,000 TO $14,000 a year at least. That's what I saved two customers recently by digging up WADITWs. They're pesky things that control much of what is going on and we usually don't recognize them for what they are; unless we're looking for them. They're catching - even employees that have been with a firm for less than a year are using them. So what's a WADITW? It's an acronym (as if we really needed another one) for that excuse that works so often -"We Always Did It That Way." Do you have some of them lurking in your operation that could be dug up and discarded to realize a savings?

I forgot that I coined that acronym a few years ago. Then it turned up on two recent projects; that's where the values come from. Procedure Analysis is one of the services KEH Energy Engineering offers that is specifically designed to dig up WADITWs and their relatives - then eliminate or alter them to save energy. The analysis in a typical plant takes about four days for document review and employee interviews. At $120 per hour that's a cost of $3,840; not a bad investment considering the potential returns. If someone questions my ability to find enough savings to justify the fee I'm more than willing to conduct the analysis for half the annual savings - and I'll wait to get paid until they're proven to exist.

See complete article in Strategic Planning for Energy and the Environment, Volume 17, No. 2 - 1997.

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