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Are your energy savings trapped?

Steam traps are automatic valves designed to remove condensate, air, and other non-condensable gases (such as oxygen and carbon dioxide) while retaining live steam. Condensate and air causes the energy transfer of heat to become less efficient by reducing the temperature and pressure of steam. Steam that passes through the trap reduces the heating capacity of the steam system or increases the amount of steam that must be generated to meet the heating demand.

Implementation of a formal steam trap management program can have significant energy savings, and improve both product quality and safety. A steam trap management program includes assessment via steam trap surveys, which determine equipment problems or failures.

Traps that fail open do not return condensate and cause direct economic loss as a result of increased boiler plant costs due to steam and energy losses. Traps that fail closed reduce heating capacity efficiency and can even damage equipment.

Using 20% steam loss as a benchmark, energy savings recovered through proper maintenance and operational efficiency can easily justify the costs associated with implementing a trap-management program. The FEMP asserts that an average steam trap maintenance and management program can reduce these losses to around 6%.

That said, proper diagnosis of steam trap operation is critical. Steam trap surveys should be conducted by experienced professionals with the right testing equipment like ultrasonic and contact temperature measurement (conductivity) testing devices to conduct and steam trap surveys for your facility.

Don’t trap your energy savings. If you aren’t proactively managing your steam traps, you’re letting them literally go up in smoke.


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