Fire Tube Boilers 5 Types, Advantages, Disadvantages & Applications [PDF]

In this article, we shall learn the advantages, disadvantages, and applications of fire tube boilers. We have also provided a PDF for the same.

Fire Tube Boilers
Photo from GrabCAD

Introduction of Fire tube boilers

A fire tube boiler is a type of boiler that has been in use for centuries and is still widely used today due to its simplicity and effectiveness. It is a cylindrical vessel with horizontal tubes that run through the center of it, containing hot gases and water. The heat generated by burning fuel in the furnace is transferred to the water through the tubes, producing steam.

Fire Tube Boilers
Photo from GrabCAD

Fire tube boilers were one of the first types of boilers to be developed and were initially used for steam locomotives and steam engines. Today, fire tube boilers are used for a variety of applications, including heating buildings, providing hot water for domestic use, generating steam for industrial processes, and powering steam turbines for electricity generation. Understanding the advantages, disadvantages, and applications of fire tube boilers is essential when selecting a boiler for a particular application.

Types of Fire-tube boiler

These are the different types of fire tube boilers

Horizontal Return Tubular (HRT) Boiler

  • Traditional fire tube boiler
  • Horizontal cylindrical shell
  • Combustion gases travel through tubes to the front before exiting

Lancashire Boiler

  • Two-pass fired boiler
  • Cylindrical shell with a large number of fire tubes
  • Combustion gases pass through tubes twice before exiting
Fire Tube Boilers
Photo By FangKuai Boiler

Scotch Marine Boiler

  • Popular fired boiler for marine applications
  • Cylindrical shell with multiple fire tubes

Vertical Fire Tube Boiler

  • Simple and compact boiler
  • Typically used for low-pressure steam generation
  • Vertical cylindrical shell with fire tubes running vertically through the shell

Immersion Fired Boiler

  • Unique type of fired boiler
  • Combustion chamber located inside water-filled tubes
  • Faster steam production and more efficient heat transfer

Advantages OF Fire Tube Boilers

  • This has a simple design and low maintenance cost.
  • Less skilled operators are sufficient for efficient operation.
  • They can be used in small industries.
  • Treatment of feed water is not essential in fire tube boilers.
  • No pure feed water is required in FTB, So the cost can be minimized.
  • For the same power output, the cost of a fire tube boiler is less than compared of a water tube boiler.

Disadvantage OF Fire Tube Boilers

  • The maximum working pressure is up to 20 bar.
  • Overall efficiency is up to 75%
  • It requires more floor area for a given output.
  • Load fluctuation cannot be easily handled.
  • The rate of steam generation and quality of steam for suitable power generation are not much better than the water tube boiler.
  • This is used in small power plants.

Application OF Fire Tube Boilers

  • They are mostly used in railways, marines, and industrial sectors.
  • Heating buildings and homes
  • Providing hot water for domestic use
  • Generating steam for industrial processes
  • Powering steam turbines for electricity generation
  • Providing steam for marine propulsion systems
  • Supplying steam for agricultural processes, such as grain drying
  • Operating as a backup or emergency boiler in case of equipment failure in other systems.
Fire Tube Boilers
Photo By AliBaba


In conclusion, fire tube boilers offer several advantages such as their compact design, low capital cost, and ease of maintenance. However, they also have some disadvantages, including lower efficiency and lower pressure ratings compared to other boiler types. They are widely used for various applications, such as heating buildings, generating steam for industrial processes, and powering steam turbines for electricity generation.

When selecting a boiler for a particular application, it is essential to consider both the advantages and disadvantages in light of the specific requirements and constraints of the application. Ultimately, a careful evaluation of the available options can help ensure that the most suitable boiler is selected for the job, taking into account both the technical and economic factors involved.


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