Steam Systems

The purpose of a steam distribution system is to deliver energy from the boiler to where it is needed. A perfect steam distribution system would deliver it without any delivery losses. This would require perfect piping insulation, perfect steam traps and perfect condensate recovery systems, with no maintenance needed.

Steam distribution systems are built of components that decay, and are maintained either proactively with preventative maintenance or . Real systems have losses from less-than-perfect insulation, leaking steam traps,flash steam and dumped condensate. Maintenance is expensive and may be delayed by lack of funds or personnel. The delivery loss of a real steam distribution system is much higher than the zero delivery loss of a perfect system.

Improvements in efficiency of boiler and steam systems can result in significant operating cost savings. In addition, total annual emissions of air pollutants, such as NOx and CO2 are also reduced.

Steam systems consist of four basic components:
  • Steam generation
  • Distribution piping
  • Heat exchange or process equipment
  • Condensate return

Additional Resources:

Focus on Energy's Steam Systems Best Practices Guide

Technical Publications from the Department of Energy: Steam