Condensate – Liquid Gold in Steam Systems
One of the benefits of steam is that as it cools it becomes liquid, or condensate. This liquid can be used again and again as long as it can be returned to the boiler. The benefit of condensate return is, while it has cooled, it is still hot and thus requires less energy to return it back to steam. Additionally, condensate is typically very high-quality water and as a result does not require as much chemical treatment as bringing make up water into the boiler. Similarly, condensate is water that has often already been treated by a softener and/or reverse osmosis system. Returning condensate means lower demand on these treatment assets which results in lower salt, energy and water usage.
Very few systems return 100% of their condensate. However, one of the most effective ways to improve your steam system efficiency is to increase the amount of condensate returned to your boiler.
Condensate Return Savings
The table below shows the benefits of increasing the condensate return of a typical system from 55% to 65%.
| Savings Area
| Make Up Water
| Blowdown Water
| Chemicals Used
| Make Up Energy
| Blow Down Energy
*The opportunity for savings is dependent on plant specific equipment and processes and will vary.
Improving Condensate Return
Improving condensate return can be easier said than done. Primary causes of reduced condensate return are:
- Incorrectly sized, poorly installed or failed steam traps
- Leaks in the steam and condensate system
Steam traps are the first step of recovering condensate from a steam system. Since steam traps are piped to the condensate system it can be difficult to identify when they have failed. The best way to ensure steam traps are working is to have survey done by a qualified company. Once failed traps have been identified and repaired a routine maintenance program should be developed to identify new failures as they occur. Steam leaks can happen throughout your steam system due to corrosion in condensate piping, water hammer, valve packing failure, pump seal failure, and the use of threaded piping to name a few. A regular review of your steam piping should be part of your routine maintenance program. Identifying and fixing failed steam traps and leaks provides a very fast return on investment.
Reach out to Watertech at 414-425-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a steam trap survey to help maximize your condensate return.
Jon has over 16 years experience in the water treatment industry. He has served as an operator of industrial wastewater facilities and sold wastewater equipment. He is currently the Vice President of Watertech and has been with the company for 11 years. Jon holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration from UW-Whitewater.