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Steam: The Most Effective Way to Transfer Heat or Energy

With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, there has been a lot of talk about essential businesses. What is it that actually deems a business essential? In short, businesses that people rely on in everyday life are essential, while nonessential businesses are generally recreational in nature.

Many consumers may not understand the necessity of steam in everyday life, however, steam plays a major role in many industries including hospitals, food processing, refineries, and pulp and paper manufacturing. Let’s dive into exactly how steam is used in some of these processes.

Hospitals
One of the most obvious groups of essential workers right now are those in a hospital, and steam is utilized extensively in all hospital settings. There are five major uses of steam in a hospital: comfort heating, humidification of air, sterilization of surgical instruments and medical waste, laundry, and food preparation.  

Food Processing
Steam used by food processors commonly falls into two distinct categories: Clean Steam or Utility Steam. Clean Steam, also known as “sanitary” or “culinary” steam, is typically used for direct injection into a product or to clean and sterilize product contact surfaces. Utility Steam, also referred to as “plant” steam, can be used in most applications that do not involve direct contact with food products or the surfaces that the food might contact. It is often utilized to supply energy for heating, cooking, or mechanical work. 

Some other examples of where steam is typically utilized in food processing is the tomato canning process, deodorizing cocoa butter, puffing up cereal, and sanitization of yogurt cups.

Electricity Generation
Most of the electricity generated in the United States is from electric power plants that use a turbine to drive electricity generators, and many of these turbines are driven by steam. Steam turbines use high-pressure steam to rotate the blades of a turbine and create mechanical or rotational energy. As the steam turbine spins, the generator spins and creates electricity.

Pulp & Paper
Steam is used heavily in the production of paper products because energy drives the papermaking process. In fact, it is estimated nationally that steam accounts for approximately 43% of the total energy demand at a paper facility.

Most paper mills have a steam turbine to generate electricity. Steam is also used to cook wood chips and cook fibers for improved sheet strength, to evaporate moisture from pulp, to heat rotating dryer drums to dry the paper stock, and to heat chemicals for other processes. The steam from a boiler is also commonly used in other locations of the mill, like heat exchangers, steam-traced piping, and stock chests. Due to its usefulness, steam is the primary input used to evaporate moisture from a sheet, allowing for desirable and profitable sheet characteristics to be created.

Petroleum Refining
Petroleum refining is an energy-intensive process, with energy accounting for approximately 50% of refining costs. Steam is used in many ways in a refinery and is necessary to keep plants running.  Some uses include:

  •   - Steam turbines for electricity generation and running pumps and compressors.
  •   - Steam tracing and jacketing to keep viscous processes fluid in pipes.
  •   - As a heating source to break up oils and distribute for the manufacturing of different products.
  •   - As a heating source for lube oil systems for large pieces of equipment.
  •   - As a heating source for reboilers.
  •   - Plant cleanup.
  •   - Stripper column injection to aid in stripping separation of different processes.
  •   - Minor leak suppression by use of steam lances.
  •   - Steam flares to aid in complete combustion of processes.

Chemical Processing
Steam also plays a large role in chemical processing and is used as both a process fluid and a utility. Common uses include process heating, power generation, atomization, cleaning and sterilization, moisturization, and humidification. Because it is so versatile, there are some major advantages to using steam in chemical processing:

  • Control. By controlling the pressure of steam, you can control the temperature at which the heat is released. Having good control over the temperature is necessary in a number of chemical processes.
  • Efficiency. Steam is an efficient heat source because it has a high output per mass of utility at a constant temperature.
  • Safety. It is non-flammable, non-toxic, and inert to several process fluids.

Although steam is often hidden from our daily lives, it is the most effective way to transfer heat or energy and offers unique features that you just cannot duplicate with other systems. The simplicity and adaptability of steam makes it a reliable medium and first choice for many processing operations.

Nationwide Boiler takes pride in supporting many essential businesses with a reliable source of steam, whether for temporary or permanent use. As our own Walter Heussmann put it, “The heartbeat of America is driven by steam. The power industry, oil and gas, chemical, hospitals, food and beverage…. We are here to keep America going.”

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Guest — chola turbo
Really a very helpful article thanks for sharing and keep on sharing! Steam turbines extracts thermal energy from pressurized s... Read More
Saturday, 17 April 2021 11:29
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Steam: An Essential Utility, and the Rental Boiler Industry

Rental boilers are often overlooked as a necessity for many processing industries. However, in the midst of a crisis, the need for steam becomes much more apparent to the public eye. In the latest podcast episode from Inside the Boiler Room, ABMA President Scott Lynch discusses the rental boiler industry with Larry Day, Nationwide Boiler's President & CEO. Larry shares his insights on the world of rental boilers, which has significant relevance during the COVID-19 crisis with boilers near capacity at many hospitals and food processing facilities.

Larry and Scott discuss an array of topics, including the importance of rental boilers in times of crisis. As Larry stated, "Anytime there is a natural disaster, rental boilers are looked at almost like generators or air compressors. Steam is a utility, and that's where it comes in as an emergency condition. [Many businesses] need that utility to keep running." 

A rental boiler can provide added capacity for increased production needs or it can temporarily replace an existing boiler to keep a plant running. Specific information about the process must be known for the supplier to accurately quote a rental boiler application. This includes:  

  •    (1) Boiler Size / Steam Capacity Requirement (typically in HP or lb/hr)
  •    (2) Operating Pressure
  •    (3) Saturated or Superheated Steam Need (if superheat, what temperature)
  •    (4) Fuel Requirement
  •    (5) Any Auxiliary Equipment Needs
  •    (6) Emissions Requirements

Listen to the podcast now to learn more about rental boiler basics, the evolution of the rental boiler industry, and potential challenges with different technology and maintenance of rental boiler systems. Also, be sure to check out the ABMA’s Guideline for Rental Boilers, developed by members of the ABMA Rental Boiler Group, including Nationwide Boiler Inc.  

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National Board Shares Jurisdiction Regulatory Changes Due to COVID-19

Businesses across the globe are being affected by the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the National Board posted a supplement to NB-370, The National Board Synopsis of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Laws, Rules and Regulations, which contains temporary changes being made by individual National Board member jurisdictions.

The newly curated webpage provides important and up-to-date policies for installation and inservice inspections, for each jurisdiction that has implemented temporary changes. The database will be updated continually as the crisis evolves.

To learn about regulatory changes in your jurisdiction, visit the National Board website.
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CataStak SCR System Exceeds NOx Guarantee

Nationwide Environmental Solutions is a division of Nationwide Boiler, formed over a decade ago to provide emissions and efficiency solutions to our wide range of customers. In today's day and age, protecting the environment and reducing the production of greenhouse gases is more important than ever, which is why we are so proud to have a product that exceeds expectations time and time again. 

Most recently, we teamed up with MDH Boiler Serviced to supply a food processing facility in Southern California with a new burner and CataStak SCR system retrofit for their existing 475 hp firetube boiler. With lower than typical exhaust temperatures for an SCR application, a more robust system was designed to ensure adequate performance. We are happy to report that the system not only met the guarantee of 5 ppm NOx, but actually exceeded expectations and tested at just 1 ppm NOx and 1 ppm ammonia slip! Exciting news for the team, solidifying future orders that will support the end-user efforts in reducing their company's overall greenhouse gas emissions. Check out our latest press release for the full story.

If your facility is under an air district mandate to reduce the NOx and/or CO output from your boiler or other fired equipment, give us a call at 1-800-227-1966 to learn how we can help.

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