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Steam - The Energy Fluid
© Copyright 2010 Spirax-Sarco Limited
SC-GCM-02 CM Issue 2
Steam - The Energy Fluid
The Steam and Condensate Loop
Depending on the pressure in the boiler. 1. it is a safe and efficient energy carrier. to the point of use. textile. London Fig. Steam today is an integral and essential part of modern technology.1 Steam .Block 1 Introduction Steam . where it can be efficiently and economically generated. Its use is popular throughout industry for a broad range of tasks from mechanical power production to space heating and process applications. 1.The Energy Fluid Module 1.The Energy Fluid It is useful to introduce the topic of steam by considering its many uses and benefits. Therefore as steam moves around a plant it can equally be considered to be the transport and provision of energy. In its gaseous form. Steam provides a means of transporting controllable amounts of energy from a central. Steam has come a long way from its traditional associations with locomotives and the Industrial Revolution. heating and transport industries could not exist or perform as they do. the water will evaporate at a certain temperature to form steam.1. Steam can hold five or six times as much potential energy as an equivalent mass of water. chemical.1.2 The Steam and Condensate Loop . When water is heated in a boiler.1. For many reasons.2 A modern packaged steam heat exchange system used for producing hot water Steam is efficient and economic to generate Water is plentiful and inexpensive. automated boiler house. Fig.1 An 18th century steam engine. power. before entering an overview of the steam plant or any technical explanations. it begins to absorb energy. The steam contains a large quantity of stored energy which will eventually be transferred to the process or the space to be heated. steam is one of the most widely used commodities for conveying heat energy. Photography courtesy of Kew Bridge Steam Museum. Without it. 1. medical. It is non-hazardous to health and environmentally sound. our food.
distribution and condensate return systems mean that many users choose to install new steam systems in preference to other energy media. using multiple passes and efficient burner technology to transfer a very high proportion of the energy contained in the fuel to the water. Centralised boiler plant can take advantage of low interruptible gas tariffs. The higher the pressure. 1. The increasing popularity of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems demonstrates the high regard for steam systems in today’s environment and energy-conscious industries. the lower capital and running costs of steam generation. This arrangement makes installation easier and less expensive than for some other heat transfer fluids.3 Steam can easily and cost effectively be distributed to the point of use Steam is one of the most widely used media to convey heat over distances. including combustible waste. expensive circulating pumps are not needed. More heat energy is contained within high temperature steam so its potential to do work is greater. because any suitable standby fuel can be stored for use when the gas supply is interrupted. with minimum emissions. Fig. The Steam and Condensate Loop 1. Due to the high heat content of steam.1. only relatively small bore pipework is required to distribute the steam at high pressure. electric and thermal oil systems. such as gas fired. which makes the steam boiler an environmentally sound option amongst the choices available for providing heat. the higher the temperature. The pressure is then reduced at the point of use. Overall. The boiler fuel may be chosen from a variety of options.Block 1 Introduction Steam .1. Modern shell boilers are compact and efficient in their design.1 It can be generated at high pressures to give high steam temperatures. return valuable condensate to the boiler house and add to the overall efficiency of the steam and condensate loop.The Energy Fluid Module 1. hot water. Highly effective heat recovery systems can virtually eliminate blowdown costs. Because steam flows in response to the pressure drop along the line. if necessary.3 .
designed for use on steam. requires only 0. The use of two-port valves. the amount of energy input to the process is easy to control. Fig.1.4 Typical two-port control valve with a pneumatic actuator and positioner Energy is easily transferred to the process Steam provides excellent heat transfer.The Energy Fluid Module 1. and may result in quality problems.a problem which is so often a feature of high temperature oils or hot water heating.4 is a typical two-port control valve and pneumatic actuator assembly. A modern packaged unit for steam heated hot water. Also. rated to 1200 kW and incorporating a steam plate heat exchanger and all the controls. which is easier to install and takes up less space in the plant. Because the heat transfer properties of steam are so high. in today’s competitive markets. The modern steam plant is easy to manage Increasingly.1 Steam is easy to control Because of the direct relationship between the pressure and temperature of saturated steam.1.4 The Steam and Condensate Loop .7 m² floor space. Steam can surround or be injected into the product being heated. industrial energy users are looking to maximise energy efficiency and minimise production costs and overheads. such as the Climate Change Levy in the UK. It can fill any space at a uniform temperature and will supply heat by condensing at a constant temperature. simplifies control and installation. The item shown in Figure 1. simply by controlling the saturated steam pressure. When the steam reaches the plant. Production costs can mean the difference between survival and failure in the marketplace.1. the organisation with the lowest costs can often achieve an important advantage over rivals. the required heat transfer area is relatively small. In comparison. Its accuracy is enhanced by the use of a pneumatic valve positioner. 1. The Kyoto Agreement for climate protection is a major external influence driving the energy efficiency trend. rather than the three-port valves often necessary in liquid systems. 1. a packaged unit incorporating a shell and tube heat exchanger would typically cover an area of two to three times that size. This enables the use of more compact plant.Block 1 Introduction Steam . the condensation process efficiently transfers the heat to the product being heated. and has led to various measures around the globe. and may reduce equipment costs. such as distortion of materials being dried. this eliminates temperature gradients which may be found along any heat transfer surface . Modern steam controls are designed to respond very rapidly to process changes.
5 A modern boiler house package With proper maintenance a steam plant will last for many years. the components of the steam system can also operate independently (standalone).1 Ways of increasing energy efficiency include monitoring and charging energy consumption to relevant departments.5 Fig. Name any well known consumer brand. such as in the case of a SCADA system or a Building/Energy Management System. where any leaks or blockages are automatically pinpointed and immediately brought to the attention of the engineer. Boiler Fig. it has been shown that it is far less expensive to bring a long established steam plant up to date with sophisticated control and monitoring systems. improve quality and cut downtime. If the user wishes. and in nine cases out of ten. This can be contrasted with the costly equipment required for gas leak monitoring. Indeed.6 Just some of the products manufactured using steam as an essential part of the process The Steam and Condensate Loop . when a steam system requires maintenance.1. The case studies refered to in Module 1. systematic maintenance. meaning that repairs may be carried out quickly. the relevant part of the system is easy to isolate and can drain rapidly. or the timeconsuming manual monitoring associated with oil or water systems. 1.Block 1 Introduction Steam . Todays state-of-the-art technology is a far cry from the traditional perception of steam as the stuff of steam engines and the Industrial Revolution. Most steam controls are able to interface with modern networked instrumentation and control systems to allow centralised control. When compared with other systems. than to replace it with an alternative method of energy provision.The Energy Fluid Module 1.2 provide real life examples. Variable overhead costs can also be minimised by ensuring planned. the planned management and monitoring of steam traps is easy to achieve with a trap monitoring system. and the condition of many aspects of the system is easy to monitor on an automatic basis. In numerous instances. 1. 1. such as a decentralised gas system. In addition to this. steam will have played an important part in production. steam is the preferred choice for industry today. This builds an awareness of costs and focuses management on meeting targets.1.1. this will maximise process efficiency.
For example. and thus popular for process use in the food. However. and heating and humidification of buildings. from direct injection to coil heating. The industries within which steam is used range from huge oil and petrochemical plants to small local laundries. They are also very ‘searching’ and high quality connections and joints are essential to avoid leakage.8 These brewing processes all use steam Steam is also intrinsically safe . may be used where high temperatures (up to 400°C) are required. such as mineral oils. 1.1. consequently large amounts of water must be pumped around the system to satisfy process or space heating requirements. and need replacing every few years . but where steam cannot be used. water has a lower potential to carry heat. curing rubber. It is therefore ideal for use in hazardous areas or explosive atmospheres. 1.1. Many petrochemical plants utilise steam fire-extinguishing systems. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. which follows.it cannot cause sparks and presents no fire risk. An example would include the heating of certain chemicals in batch processes. Different media are compared in Table 1.The Energy Fluid Module 1. steam is used in a variety of ways during different stages of the process.1. and will be best suited to certain applications or temperature bands. However thermal fluids are expensive. It is also widely used in hospitals for sterilisation purposes. which will be different for each user.Block 1 Introduction Steam . 1. steam remains the most practical and economic choice.6 The Steam and Condensate Loop . food production. practical and financial factors. pharmaceutical and health industries.1. it is also sterile. Thermal fluids. Other methods of distributing energy The alternatives to steam include water and thermal fluids such as high temperature oil. for commercial heating and ventilation.7 Clean steam pipeline equipment used in pharmaceutical process plant Fig.they are not suited to large systems. brewing. The final choice of heating medium depends on achieving a balance between technical. Broadly speaking. Many users find it convenient to use steam as the same working fluid for both space heating and for process applications. textiles. and industrial systems. in the brewing industry. Fig.1 Steam is flexible Not only is steam an excellent carrier of heat.1. Compared to steam. Further uses include the production of paper. water is popular for general space heating applications and for low temperature processes (up to 120°C) where some temperature variation can be tolerated.
welded or flanged joints usual Fire risk System very flexible System less flexible System inflexible The Steam and Condensate Loop 1.7 .19 kJ /kg°C Inexpensive Only occasional dosing Moderate coefficients High pressure needed for high temperatures Circulating pumps required Large pipes More complex to control three way valves or differential pressure valves may be required Temperature breakdown more difficult No steam traps required High temperature oils Poor heat content Specific heat often 1.1. Temperature breakdown more difficult No steam traps required Condensate to be handled No condensate handling No condensate handling Flash steam available No flash steam No flash steam Boiler blowdown necessary Water treatment required to prevent corrosion Reasonable pipework required No fire risk No blowdown necessary No blowdown necessary Less corrosion Searching medium.1.1 Comparison of heating media with steam Steam High heat content Latent heat approximately 2 100 kJ /kg Inexpensive Some water treatment costs Good heat transfer coefficients High pressure required for high temperatures No circulating pumps required Small pipes Easy to control with two way valves Temperature breakdown is easy through a reducing valve Steam traps required Hot water Moderate heat content Specific heat 4.69-2. welded or flanged joints usual No fire risk Negligible corrosion Very searching medium.The Energy Fluid Module 1.1 Table 1.Block 1 Introduction Steam .93 kJ /kg°C Expensive Relatively poor coefficients Low pressures only to get high temperatures Circulating pumps required Even larger pipes More complex to control three way valves or differential pressure valves may be required.
The Energy Fluid Module 1.8 The Steam and Condensate Loop . humidification Sterilisation Space heating Range of industries 1. pumps.1.Block 1 Introduction Steam .a summary: Table 1. no balancing Two-port valves . compact size and less weight No pumps.1 The benefits of steam . fully automated boiler houses fulfil requirements such as PM5 and PM60 in the UK Low noise Reduced plant size (as opposed to water) Longevity of equipment Boilers enjoy flexible fuel choice and tariff Systems are flexible and easy to add to Environmental factors Fuel efficiency of boilers Condensate management and heat recovery Steam can be metered and managed Links with CHP /waste heat Steam makes environmental and economic sense Uses Steam has many uses chillers.cheaper Maintenance costs lower than for dispersed plant Capital cost is lower than for dispersed plant SCADA compatible products Automation. fans.2 Steam benefits Inherent benefits Water is readily available Water is inexpensive Steam is clean and pure Steam is inherently safe Steam has a high heat content Steam is easy to control due to the pressure /temperature relationship Steam gives up its heat at a constant temperature System benefits Small bore pipework.1.
How does steam give up its heat? a| By cooling b| By radiation c| By conduction d| By condensation 6. The Steam and Condensate Loop 1: c. 4: c. Which of the following is true of steam? a| It carries much more heat than water b| Its heat transfer coefficient is more than thermal oil and water c| Pumps are not required for distribution d| All of the above 3.1.Block 1 Introduction Steam . Approximately how much potential energy will steam hold compared to an equivalent mass of water? a| Approximately the same b| Half as much c| 5 to 6 times as much d| Twice as much 5. 6: c Answers 1. 3: a.The Energy Fluid Module 1. Which of the following statements is not true? a| Steam is less searching than high temperature oil or water b| Steam pipes will be smaller than water or high temperature oil pipes c| Temperature breakdown of water and oil is easier than steam d| Steam plant is smaller than water plant.9 . 2: d. 5: d.1 Questions 1. The amount of energy carried by steam is adjusted by a| Controlling steam pressure b| Controlling steam flow c| Controlling condensation d| Controlling boiler feeedwater temperature 4. How does the heat carrying capacity of steam compare with water? a| It is about the same b| It is less than water c| More than water d| It depends on the temperature 2.
10 The Steam and Condensate Loop .1 1.Block 1 Introduction Steam .1.The Energy Fluid Module 1.
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