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Pipes in an industrial setting

The Taming of the Steam Trap

August 15, 2022

Suppose you’ve been to a home or a facility that operates with a boiler system. In that case, it’s no surprise that a natural gas steam boiler system is monitored and maintained internally and externally. Through the miracle of engineering, many safety mechanisms are put in place so that steam stays within the boiler system and everything else is processed out. So, how do we equip systems to navigate the exchange of liquids and gases? And most importantly, how do we ensure that nothing leaks?

That’s where steam traps come into play.

But first, let’s think about a typical modern steam system. The boiler is the hub, powered by a burner that sends heat into the tubes. From there, the steam circulates several times. It is essential to ensure that the steam leaving the boiler is delivered to the process in a suitable condition. The pipework that carries the steam will typically incorporate a series of strainers, separators, and, most importantly, steam traps.

A steam trap is an automatic valve that expels liquid condensate, air, and other non-condensable gases (such as CO2) from a system while keeping – or trapping – the steam to ensure minimal loss. Effectively, the traps separate the liquid condensate from the mixture within the system. They retain the steam within the process, which helps with the best use of heat and increases energy efficiency.  The steam trap is essential for any steam system in industrial or commercial facilities; they need efficient construction, so they don’t quickly wear while maintaining minimal steam loss and corrosion resistance.

There are multiple types of steam traps and detailed national and international guidelines to ensure proper implementation, monitoring, and maintenance. Businesses often don’t know when a steam trap has malfunctioned or failed, which would look anything from a slight increase in boiler room temperature to pressure changes within the system to steam leakage. Yes, one little valve is responsible for the safety of steam in a whole system!

Performing regular assessments to ensure that steam traps run safely and efficiently is crucial. Otherwise, facilities risk all-around loss of efficiency, which goes without saying, is worse than a leak. We at Energy Sciences have included such assessments as part of our services and our mission to promote energy-conscious options. We have also worked with DTE Energy to create their Find & Fix Gas® Program purely for steam trap maintenance and efficiency.

If you want to know more about how we can help with your steam traps, let’s chat!

Categories: Blog, Industry Insights, Sustainability