About 20% of all energy consumption by industry is used to generate steam, which is used for a variety process heating applications as well as facility space heating. There are many opportunities to improve the efficiency of steam systems, which can be summarized into four main areas:
- Steam generation: boiler controls, water treatment, maintenance/cleaning of heat transfer surfaces, matching pressure to end-use needs, etc.
- Steam distribution: better insulation, steam trap maintenance, and finding leaks
- Steam end-use: heat exchanger maintenance and other measures to optimize end-use
- Condensate return: optimize the amount of condensate return and use of low-pressure steam.
A free steam system modeler tool and tutorial is available from DOE's Advanced Manufacturing Office to help optimize the efficiency of steam systems.