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Energy Saving in Steam System


Most common medium for heat transfer and power generation with following advantage

Easy to generate
Easy to use Most economic method for heat transfer. High heat content. High specific heat Highest heat transfer coefficient Easy to control & distribute Cheap & inert Due to this Steam is prevalent in many manufacturing facilities

According to the U.S. DOE Office of Industrial

Technologies Best Practices, Over 45% of all the fuel burned by U.S. manufacturers is consumed to

raise steam. Unlike traditional utilities, the cost of

steam is not typically measured or tracked. A typical industrial facility can realize steam savings

of 20% by improving its steam system.

The total steam system must be considered for energy saving.Upstream inefficiencies will affect process heating and cost of producing steam, while downstream inefficiencies (leaks, bad traps, poor load control) can also affect process heating and have severe effects on the boiler and cost of producing steam. In general savings are found in:
Steam Generation through cogeneration applications, boiler

controls, and water treatment.

Steam Distribution through checking steam leaks, installing insulation and proper steam trap maintenance. Steam End Use through heat exchanger maintenance. Steam Recovery through condensate return.

Energy Loses in an Inefficient Steam System

Energy Loses in an efficient Steam System

Energy saving opportunities in steam

1. Monitoring of Steam traps : Steam traps proper function is required as
If condensate, air & non condensable gases accumulates in pipe line it reduces the capacity of lines ,equipment and heat transfer

Excess condensate also causes "water hammer," and can damage pipes. Non-condensable gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, cause corrosion.

Steam that passes through the trap provides no heating service.

Types of Traps
Thermodynamic Steam Traps

Thermostatic Steam Trap

Inverted Bucket Steam Traps

Ball Float Steam Traps

Trap monitoring can be done by Trap man. Watching steam outlet. Hearing sound. Observing trap temperature. Observations for condensate discharge: Thermodynamic traps : Intermittent condensate discharge Float type traps : Continuous condensate discharge Inverted bucket traps : Intermittent condensate discharge Thermostatic traps : Continuous condensate discharge / Intermittent discharge based on load

2.Timely arresting steam leakages

3 mm hole leaking steam at 5 bar is having approx. 15

kg/hr of steam loss.( i.e 120 tones of steam or 0.6 laces of rupees) 3 mm hole leaking steam at 20 bar is having 60 kg/hr of steam loss.( i.e 480 tones of steam or 3.8 laces of rupees)

3 mm hole leaking steam at 40 bar is having 100 kg/hr of steam loss. ( i.e 800 tones of steam or 8.0 laces of rupees)

3. Providing dry steam for process

For industrial process heating dry saturated steam to be supplied as :

Wet steam reduces total heat value of steam. Condensate water forms a wet film on heat transfer surface. Condensate overload the traps & condensate system. Super heated steam gives up heat at a rate slower than the condensation heat transfer of saturated steam

4. Utilizing Steam at the lowest acceptable pressure for the Indirect heating process
Proper selection of steam pressure is important as Latent heat reduces with increase in steam pressure Only latent heat takes part in the heating process. Lower the steam pressure , lower the temperature & less heat transfer

Steam should be always generated & distributed at the highest possible pressure & utilized at a lowest pressure as possible.

5. Correct Insulation of steam pipelines & Hot process equipment

Proper insulation is very much important to avoid losses. Condensate inside the insulation is dangerous. Cladding sheets should be proper. Cladding joints should be at the bottom of pipeline. Condition of insulation may be monitored by measuring surface temperature.(<50 degree C). Bare flanges should be covered ( If required detachable insulation cover can be used)

The effective insulation of a steam system can bring down the heat losses to less than 75 Kcal/m2/hr


Difference in Surface temperature with ambient Heat Loss

Deg C 50 100 200 400

Kcal/m2/hr 500 1350 3790 13640

6. Proper Utilization of directly injected steam for heating

Silent points

No condensate recovery system is necessary Heating is quick & the sensible heat of the system is also used along with latent heat. Not useful where agitation is not acceptable. Ideally injected steam should be condensed completely( steam pressure between 0.5 to 1.0 kgf/cm2) as the bubbles rise through the liquid. If pressure are high, the velocity of the steam bubbles will also be high and they will not get sufficient time to condense before they reach the surface.


Steam pipes should be laid by the shortest possible distance. Provision for proper draining of condensate. The pipes should run with a fall (slope)of not less than 12.5 mm in 3 meter in the direction of flow. Large pockets in the pipes to enable water to collect Drain pockets should be provided at every 30 to 50 meters and at any low point in the pipe network. Expansion loops are required to take care of the expansion of pipes when they get heated up. Automatic air vents should be fixed at the dead end of steam mains, which will allow removal of air, which will tend to accumulate. .

Proper sizing of steam pipelines help in minimizing pressure drop. A higher pipe size will reduce the pressure drop and thus the energy cost. However, higher pipe size will increase the initial installation cost.
By use of smaller pipe size, even though the installation cost can be reduced, the energy cost will increase due to higher-pressure drop.

Pressure drop change is inversely proportional to the 5th power of diameter change.

Hence, care should be taken in selecting the

optimum pipe size.

8. Reduction of Scaling and Soot Losses

Soot buildup on tubes side or Scale on water side Acts as an insulator against heat transfer Elevates stack temperature and heat loss 1% efficiency loss with 4.4oC increase in stack temperature Indicated by high exit gas temperatures at normal excess air level Water side deposits require review of water treatment procedures and tube cleaning It is time to clean soot deposits when flue gas temperature rise 20oC above temperature for newly cleaned boiler Check and record stack temperature regularly

0.25 mm thick air film offers the same resistance to heat transfer as a 330mm thick copper wall A 3mm thick soot deposition on the heat transfer surface can cause in fuel consumption to the tune of 2.5% A 1mm thick scale (deposit) on the water side could increase fuel consumption by 5 to 8%

9. Reduction of Boiler Steam Pressure

Lower steam pressure gives a lower saturated steam temperature and without stack heat recovery, a similar reduction in the temperature of the flue gas temperature results. Potential 1 to 2% improvement. Steam is generated at pressures normally dictated by the highest pressure / temperature requirements for a particular process. In some cases, the process does not operate all the time, and there are periods when the boiler pressure could be reduced. Adverse effects, such as an increase in water carryover from the boiler owing to pressure reduction, may nullify any potential saving. Pressure should be reduced in stages, and not more than a 20 percent reduction should be considered.

10. Condensate Recovery

Ensure condensate is returned or re-used in the process . For every 60c rise in the feed water temperature by condensate recovery corresponds to approximately 1 % saving of fuel consumption in the boiler .


Thermodynamic traps

Unaffected by steam temperature and pressure fluctuations No adjustment is needed, robust & simple Only one moving part Can withstand water hammer & vibration Compact & light weight Do not work well with low inlet or high discharge pressure Noisy operation

Disc steam trap

Float type traps

Continuous discharge of condensate at steam temperature Ideal for application with large condensate load Can be worked as automatic air vent. Susceptible to damage with water hammer Not suitable with superheated steam.


Valve is fully open on start up allowing air to be discharge freely & maximum condensate removal. Suitable for tracing line application due to large capacity. Element susceptible to damage by water hammer. Not suitable with superheated steam.

Float and thermostatic steam trap

Inverted bucket steam traps

Can withstand high pressure. High tolerance to water hammer. Small discharge hole at top of bucket means that air discharge is low. Water seal is necessary hence require priming.