An air-preheater is a device designed to heat air before another process in order to increase thermal efficiency. They are often found in large boilers in thermal power stations producing electric power.
An air preheater (APH) is a general term used to describe any device designed to heat air before another process (for example, combustion in a boiler) with the primary objective of increasing the thermal efficiency of the process. They may be used alone or to replace a recuperative heat system or to replace a steam coil. In particular, this article describes the combustion air preheaters used in large boilers found in thermal power stations producing electric power from e.g. fossil fuels, biomass or waste. The purpose of the air preheater is to recover the heat from the boiler flue gas which increases the thermal efficiency of the boiler by reducing the useful heat lost in the flue gas. As a consequence, the flue gases are also conveyed to the flue gas stack (or chimney) at a lower temperature, allowing simplified design of the conveyance system and the flue gas stack. It also allows control over the temperature of gases leaving the stack (to meet emissions regulations, for example).
Source: Wikipedia - Air preheater