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Optimizing Steam and Condensate System: A Case Study
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Optimization of Steam & Condensate systems in any process plant results in substantial reduction in purchased energy cost. During periods of natural gas price hikes, this would benefit the plant in controlling their fuel budget significantly, irrespective of the plant’s size. This paper highlights the efforts taken by the management of a medium sized specialty chemicals plant in Baton Rouge, LA. This site spent over $5.1 million in 2007 ($2.1 million for natural gas & $3.0 million for electricity). The site is generating steam for its process operation from the two gas fired boilers at 175-psig pressure. The steam is consumed at three of its five process areas. The other two process areas are not significant steam users. Condensate recovery is about 55%, while the system is designed to recover condensate from all steam users. Make-up water is supplied from a Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant. The optimization study was conducted at this site between Mar – May 2008, to identify opportunities to reduce the energy cost and to improve the steam system’s reliability. The study identified nine energy cost optimization opportunities that would result in a total cost savings of $306,000 annually. The initial estimates indicate that 7 of the 9 projects recommended by the study have simple payback periods of less than one year. This case study is a good example and motivation for all the engineers and managers who are responsible for maintaining the efficiency and reliability of small and medium size steam systems.
Venkatesan, V. V.; Merritt, B.; Tully, R. C. (2009). Optimizing Steam and Condensate System: A Case Study. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from