5 Ways A Little Extra Love Can Improve Steam Boiler Efficiency
Steam boilers are an important piece of equipment for many industrial and commercial facilities. How a steam boiler is maintained and operated has a direct effect on the amount of energy and water it uses, the cost of chemicals, and potentially early replacement if it is not well maintained.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to get the best results from your system. One of our customers has a sticker that reads “Have You Hugged Your Boiler Today?” What a great reminder that a little extra care can go a long way toward improving efficiency, reducing operating costs, and prolonging the overall life of your equipment.
Below are 5 ways to “Hug” your steam boiler:
- Feedwater Quality. It is important to make sure feedwater is properly treated and meets ASME Guidelines. High levels of impurities or total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water, will leave water deposits that act as insulators, reducing heat transfer and increasing fuel consumption. Too much oxygen will lead to corrosion. Installing pre-treatment equipment such as softeners, feedwater heaters or deaerators, and reverse osmosis systems, can reduce impurities and lower oxygen levels. Using good quality feedwater reduces scaling potential, corrosion, and blowdown, which conserves water, energy and chemical usage.
- Blowdown Automation. As the boiler produces steam, the TDS remain and accumulate in the boiler water. These dissolved solids need to be controlled using blowdown, which results in loss of energy, water and chemicals. Manual control of the continuous blowdowns typically results in either too much or too little blowdown. You can optimize conductivity control by implementing an automated, continuous blowdown control system. By properly controlling the boiler conductivity, a good automated system will improve efficiency and steam quality, and reduce energy and chemical usage.
- Maximize Condensate Return. Condensate return is often referred to as liquid gold. You have done a lot of work to treat and heat this water. It is good quality water, so you want to hold on to every drop. Steam traps remove air and CO2 from the condensate return system, improving overall efficiency and energy savings. The steam traps prevent the loss of steam and handle dirt and scale. A good steam trap program will ensure the traps are sized and working properly to maximize condensate return. Take the time to identify and fix any uncontrolled losses.
- Preventive Maintenance. One of the best ways to ensure boiler safety and efficiency is by performing the recommended daily checks by the manufacturer and/or your insurance company and tracking the data on a log sheet. Follow all recommended maintenance guidelines in the equipment manual for your specific system, especially in regard to low water cutoffs. If possible, make sure to keep a digital copy on file for easy access. A proactive approach will reduce operating costs, improve safety and potentially prolong the life of your system.
- System Monitoring. Regular monitoring of the water chemistry, whether manual or automated, helps provide a good baseline to track system trends and changes. The data you collect can provide insight on how the system is performing which will help identify areas to improve efficiency, preventing unplanned shutdowns.
The easiest and best way to do this is with an automated system. It can respond to changing system conditions to help meet increased demands for improved consistency. It also allows for alarm notifications so you can respond more quickly to anything that is out of range. Watertech offers WTLink, a cellular modem that provides 24/7 access to your water treatment controllers. Data is stored and accessible through WTeService where users can monitor trends and run reports.
Your facility’s system offers many opportunities to improve overall efficiency and reduce costs. Watertech can help ensure your water treatment and chemical program are optimized for your boiler, and provide automated controls to monitor your system 24/7. If you have questions, or would like to learn more about how to improve your boiler’s efficiency, reach out to us at 414-425-3339.
Here is to wishing you and your steam boiler a long and happy relationship!