Don’t Waste The Energy

Insulating Your Steam and Condensate Systems

by: Keith Svrcek of Watson McDaniel

Personnel within a facility’s maintenance, operations and engineering organizations often toil over whether or not to insulate their steam and condensate systems and more importantly which components to insulate. While there are many benefits to insulating these systems, unless done properly and completely, you are doing more harm than good. So, what exactly should you insulate in these systems? Whether you are insulating for operational and/or production improvement, ecological reasons, or just to insure the safety of your personnel; every run of pipe, distribution and return, and all system components, with respect to manufacturer recommendations, should be insulated in order to reap the benefits of undertaking such a project.

Insulating your steam system and its respective components serves multiple purposes… Conservation of energy by reducing heat loss, which in turn reduces fuel consumption and lowers emissions, improves steam quality, which can prevent premature failure of the system’s components. It also enables more accurate control of the steam temperature of a process, and maybe more importantly it allows a facility to safeguard its personnel from higher surface temperatures of piping and equipment. Condensate systems can also benefit from be insulated. Carbonic Acid corrosion is a major detriment to condensate systems and their associated equipment. Carbonic Acid is formed when CO2 reacts with the condensate in the pipe, and the cooler the condensate the more damage this acid can cause. Insulating condensate return lines will aid in keeping condensate temperatures high thus reducing the effects of Carbonic Acid.

The service life, proper operation of your steam and condensate systems, and the adequate protection of your personnel from these systems depends upon proper insulating. Take care in choosing the proper materials and heed the advice of the manufacturers of your system’s equipment.

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