4 ways to minimize steam costs

Operating and maintaining a reliable steam system can have significant cost impact on a plant's annual budget.

By Ven V. Venkatesan

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Operating and maintaining a reliable steam system is vital to processing plants and can have significant cost impact on a plant's annual budget. Typical profit drainers in operating and maintaining a steam system include excessive fuel cost, inefficient steam generation, less-than-optimal steam utilization and poor condensate recovery. Ensuring adequate supply of steam often results in excessive capacity usage, expensive fuel choices or condensate draining to grade, leading to compromised efficiency levels and higher steam cost. Because steam system dependency is unavoidable, addressing those three issues is crucial to minimizing steam costs.

Optimize steam generation capacity. A chemical processing plant in upstate New York operated all six of its boilers to meet its frequently surging steam demand. After analyzing the normal and peak steam demands of its several processing buildings, engineers concluded that one boiler could be stopped during the day with the help of a steam demand controller and another during the night shift. Successful results from multiple trials stopping one boiler during the night shift paved the way for operating personnel to stop the second boiler during the day. 

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