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Best Practices 24

Best Practices 24

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Published by Andy Chong

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Published by: Andy Chong on Jun 11, 2013
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Swagelok Energy Advisors, Inc. Document No. 24
Steam and condensate leaks cost industrial plants millions o dollars in lost energy, whileincreasing emissions, creating saety hazards, and lowering the reliability o plant operations.Steam leaks result in the loss o both latent and sensible energy. While plant personnel would bewell advised to pay attention to all utility losses, greater attention should be paid to the costs andproblems associated with losses related to steam. Steam leaks result in higher energy losses thancomparable compressed air leaks, as shown in the ollowing example:
Steam leak = $3,591.00
100 psig1/8 in.$10.00 per thousand lbs. o steam
Compressed air = $2,095.00
100 psig1/8 in.$0.05 per kWhLeaks in the steam and condensate system can contribute to signicant energy losses—as greatas 19 percent o the overall energy consumption—in a plant’s operations. In act, due to the highcost o these energy losses, the correction o steam and condensate leaks oers very lucrativepaybacks. The greatest benet o a proactive steam and condensate leakage correction programis that most leaks can be corrected without expending capital.
What Are the Major Causes of Steam Leaks?
Swagelok Energy Advisors (SEA) has conducted hundreds o steam system audits and has oundthat the ollowing are the most common contributors to steam leaks in plants:
1. Threaded Pipe Connections
 The number one cause o steam and condensate leaks is the use o threaded pipe connections ina steam and condensate system. Pipe threads are prone to ail with the expansion and contractiono the steam and condensate during system startup, operation, and shutdown. Using dierenttypes o materials on the threaded connection to prevent leakage has limited success.
Use other connection methods in the steam and condensate system, suchas welded connections or tube-type connections.
Steam and Condensate Leakage –Costs and Solutions
2. Packing on Standard Type Valves
 Without a proactive maintenance program, standard packing on steam isolationvalves will ail and leak steam during operation.
Use other types o valves that have corrected the sealing problemsencountered in steam and condensate. Commonly used valves include ballvalves and buttery valves (in some applications).
3. Carbonic Acid
 The carbonic acid ound in most systems will attack the components o a steam andcondensate system. The carbonic acid deterioration will be noticeable at the thinnestpart o the pipe, which is the threaded connection.
Use other connections methods in the steam and condensatesystem, such as welded connections or tube-type connections that will resistthe carbonic acid or CO2 corrosion. In the condensate system, use stainlesssteel to provide maintenance-ree operation.
4. Water Hammer
  The water hammer in the steam and condensate system can produce pipeconnection ailures that result in system leaks.
Water hammer should not occur in the steam and condensatesystem. I water hammer exists, the issue must be resolved. Causes andsolutions to water hammer can be reviewed in SEA’s Best Practice No. 11“The Number One Problem in a Steam System – Water Hammer.”
How to Determine Losses from Steam Leaks
Steam ow through a leak can be calculated using an orice equation, which is basedon the diameter o the leak, pressure at the inlet o the orice, and pressure at theoutlet (atmosphere).
Steam Flow = f 
(orice diameter, inlet pressure, atmospheric pressure)However, SEA historically has identied the ollowing leak characteristicsin steam and condensate systems:
Swagelok Energy Advisors, Inc. Document No. 24
Swagelok Energy Advisors, Inc. Document No. 24
 The leak path is not a perect orice.
Determining the diameter o the passage is difcult because the leak is not a perect circle.
Pressure at P1 may not be measured and may have to be calculated basedon ows and pressure drops. 
How to determine the diameter of the leak path
— Even or most experienced plant personnel,determining the diameter o the leak path is difcult at best. Steam is extremely hot, and trying tomeasure the diameter o the path can be dangerous.SEA recommends that plant personnel be trained with dierent tools to help visually determinethe steam leak diameter rom a sae distance. To determine steam leak volume by plume length isextremely difcult and not very accurate.
How to Determine the Inlet Pressure (P1)
— P1 is determine by the steam system operatingpressure. I the pressure is unknown and the steam is saturated vs. superheated then the task o determining “P1” is accomplished easily by using inrared temperature measurement devices.Saturated steam at a given temperature directly correlates to saturated steam pressure.Using other SEA Best Practices regarding piping in steam and condensate systems will assist ineliminating leaks. Also, using SEA Best Practices on steam valves will help resolve valve ailures.
What are the Emissions?
 The table below lists emission levels or the most common pollutants derived rom ossil uels.Remember that in addition to saving money, a proactive program to resolve steam and condensateleakage will reduce emissions. I plant personnel calculate the total energy loss (in terms o BTU/hr)which results rom their steam losses, they can use the tables below to calculate the reduction inemissions that would result rom reducing the amount o steam leakage.
 How Much Do Steam Leaks Cost?
 Through its research and testing, SEA has ound that by adding a leak constant to the Napier oriceequation, it can estimate a conservative ow and energy loss rom steam leaks.
Roadmap for Steam Leaks1.
Correct all steam leaks in the plant
Reduce or eliminate threadedconnections
Eliminate any waterhammerissues
Review steam valve selectionprocess
Review material selection orcondensate systems

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