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The Future of Steam: A Preliminary Discussion
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Steam production represents a significant proportion of today's industrial energy demand. But the evolution of process technologies, as well as turbulence in energy markets, suggests that steam's role may be subject to change in the next decade. Questions as to the ways those changes will manifest are addressed by this paper. Specifically, the text presents an outline of parameters that (in the authors' opinions) will ultimately shape the dimensions of industrial steam use in the next 10 to 20 years. Technical, business, institutional, and labor developments are the forces in question. This paper provides a systematic review of these forces, and suggests how they may influence industrial asset purchasing decisions. The coming decade will witness opportunities for maintaining and growing steam markets, but there are also reasons to believe that steam will be supplanted by alternative technologies in certain industries and applications. Combined heat and power applications are the wildcard in this formula, since they may facilitate the replacement of some traditional steam applications. But at the same time, CHP may ensure that steam indirectly serves industry by powering generators that serve newer electric applications. The trends discussed in this paper suggest the components for an industrial steam policy agenda.
Russell, C.; Harrell, G.; Moore, J.; French, S. (2001). The Future of Steam: A Preliminary Discussion. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from