Swagelok Energy Advisors, Inc.
Document No. 31
COST OF STEAM
Knowing the correct cost o steam oers important insight onimproving a company’s bottom line by: A. Allowing or accurate evaluation o the economics o pro-posed steam system eciency improvement projects. Inac-curate or incomplete steam costs may result in many easibleenergy projects being missed or rejected, while uneasibleprojects may be approved or implementation B. Assisting in optimization o the steam generation system andreducing costs C. Providing a true cost to the production areas or account-ability o energy consumption.Steam cost is the rst benchmark o any steam system man-agement program. Unortunately, a high percentage o industri-al plants do not benchmark their steam costs. A loaded steamcost is the most important variable or any steam system man-agement program because it captures all aspects and costs orproducing steam.
What Affects the Cost of Steam?
Many actors in the steam system aect the cost o steam. They include:
A. Fuel cost
Lower-cost uels result in lower steam cost.
B. Operating steam pressure
Lower operating steam pressure results in lower steamcost. Higher operating steam pressure requires moreenergy to produce the steam. Steam pressure should bereviewed to ensure that it is at the optimum pressure tomeet the plant’s process requirements.
Knowing the Cost of Steam
C. Percentage o make-up water or percentage o condensate return
Normal condensate returns have a higher Btu contentthan make-up water. Today’s industrial benchmark orcondensate return is 90% i the plant is not injectingsteam or the process.
D. Boiler efciency
Higher boiler eciency lowers steam cost. Boiler e-ciency varies depending on the boiler operation ringrate or load demand. Lower ring rates or steam loaddemand lower boiler eciency. Understanding and doc-umenting the uel-air ratio is extremely important. Boilereciency is calculated by using PTC 4.1.
A proactive steam management program can improve alarge percentage of the above factors.Unloaded Steam Cost versus Loaded Steam Cost
There are two methods to calculate steam cost: unloaded andloaded. The simplest steam cost method calculates the unload-ed steam cost, which only reviews the boiler operation; steamBtu, eedwater Btu, boiler eciency, and uel cost. Loadedsteam cost captures all aspects and costs or producing steamwhich provides a truer steam cost.
Unloaded Steam Cost
The unloaded cost is a basic comparison between the amounto steam produced and the cost o uel required to produceit. The basic equation or calculating unloaded steam cost in-cludes the cost o uel, operating steam pressure, eedwaterBtu, and boiler eciency.
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