Steam is an integral part of the manufacturing and process industries throughout the world. With the ever-increasing global consumption and developments in the manufacturing sector, steam boilers have proved to be an essential asset for high-quality manufacturing and optimal productivity. Cogeneration plants are an ideal example of generating steam and electricity for saving resources and releasing less emission. It uses external mechanical energy to convert into electrical energy. Steam generated in steam boilers produces electricity through a turbine. Therefore, steam is an important factor in the processing operations as well as for power generation.
Applications of Steam in Processing Plants:
Steam boilers generate steam for multiple purposes such as heating, drying, sterilizing, power generation, etc. Therefore, steam plays a crucial role in the process operations and for producing electricity. Here are some of the commonly found applications of the steam
Steam for Heating:
Process heating is one of the major applications of steam. Various factors such as high efficiency, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of using make steam the preferred heating medium over other alternatives. Steam is used for either direct heating or indirect heating.
In direct heating, the steam is directly subjected to the product that needs to be heated. Precision is required to ensure uniform heating and that the steam does not exit the steam boiler without heating the products. Pharmaceuticals and food processing are prime examples that utilize steam for direct heating.
Indirect heating, as the name suggests, uses steam to heat the products without any direct contact. Indirect heating takes place with the help of various heating equipment such as heat exchangers, cookers, jacketed vessels, etc.
Steam for Atomization:
Atomization refers to breaking the fuels into tiny particles. In a steam boiler, atomization takes place in burners. Steam is utilized for atomizing the fuel to ensure a larger surface area that results in effective combustion. Atomization also leads to minimal soot formation and acceleration in overall efficiency.
Steam for Drying:
Steam is also used to dry and eliminate the moisture content in the products. Generally, hot air is used for drying purposes. However, steam is a better alternative as compared to hot air due to being cost-effective, easy to control, and safe to use. Additionally, steam assures enhanced product quality and finishing
Steam for Power Generation:
Steam is used to generate power and produce electricity with power plants that work with Rankine Cycle. It generates superheated steam and is transported to the steam turbine. The steam drives a turbine to generate electricity. The utilized steam is converted into water, and the water is fed again into the boiler system for steam generation.
Superheated steam is ideal for power generation because the temperature and pressure of steam at the inlet and outlet of the turbine directly impact the efficiency of the power plants.
Steam for Sterilization and Disinfection:
Processing and Manufacturing industries follow standard guidelines to ensure a clean and safe work environment. Sterilization and Disinfection are crucial to ensure that the products, equipment, and the process plants.
Industries such as pharmaceutical, food processing, chemicals, distilleries, etc. ensure proper sterilization with high-temperature steam for process plants and equipment to maintain the quality of the products.
Types of Steam:
The commonly used forms of steam in processing and manufacturing industries are as follows,
Steam at its boiling point is known as saturated steam. The most common example is steam at atmospheric pressure, at which point the saturated steam would be at 212°F (100°C). It is the most commonly used steam, especially in the pharmaceutical sector.
As the name suggests, superheated steam has a higher temperature than its boiling point at a given pressure. Superheated steam would be hotter than 100°C but remain at the same atmospheric pressure.
Dry steam is completely in a vapor state without any liquid in it. Superheated steam is dry as any liquid is promptly heated. Saturated steam is generally dry and requires an effective steam trap to eliminate the water before utilizing the steam.
Wet steam, also known as unsaturated steam consists of water and vapor. Wet steam is unable for effective heat transfer as it has already lost its heat of vaporization.
Advantages of Steam:
Energy Holding Capacity:
As the water is heated in a steam boiler for generating steam, it absorbs energy. Steam has five or six times the energy holding capacity, which is easy to transport for direct or indirect heating purposes in process operations.
Safe to Use:
Steam is environmentally friendly and non-hazardous
Easy to Control:
The energy carried by steam can be easily monitored by controlling the temperature and pressure
Easy to Transfer:
Steam has high heat transfer properties, and it requires less heat transfer area that ensures hassle-free transfer
Serves Multi Purposes:
Steam is an ideal choice for heating, drying, and sterilizing that are performed in the manufacturing sector.
With 3000+ installations in 26 countries for 20 process industries, Rakhoh Boilers are leading steam boiler manufacturers in India and worldwide. With extensive experience and knowledge in steam boilers and thermal solutions, we are also considered one of the best boiler service providers.