The primary purpose of a steam end-use system is to make the most out of the heat contained in the steam that is transmitted to end-use equipment. According to best practices guidelines promoted by the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program, key components of such a system include three main components:
  • The end-use equipment, such as heat exchangers, unit heaters and other process-specific steam-use equipment.
  • Steam trap systems to drain condensate from the end-use equipment.
  • Piping, which transmits steam through the end-use equipment and condensate out of the end-use equipment.
Crucial inputs include steam conditions (pressure and quality) from the distribution system and process inputs. Outputs include product produced, steam and condensate resulting from specific end-use applications.

On its web site, the DOE notes that it is important to understand how much steam is used per unit of product produced. System operators can compare this information with other data, either within their own company or with that used by the competition, to determine where the steam operation might be improved.

The DOE's web site urges users to select, size and maintain steam traps for specific end-use applications. Blowdown of noncondensables from condensing equipment is critical. If they are not removed, the condensing equipment will quickly cease to function. The rule of thumb is that for every 1 percent of noncondensables in steam, the heat transfer coefficient decreases by 10 percent.

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