Steam Traps Thermographic Survey
Steam systems virtually all rely on steam traps for their control and, when working properly, efficient operation. Steam traps act as selective valves, allowing liquid condensate (as well as air and other incondensable gases) to pass whilst retaining the steam. This allows the steam system to be drained properly and ensures maximum utilisation and efficiency of the heat contained in the steam.
Steam trap failure can be hard to spot, but often leads to significant energy wastage and operational problems. A single steam trap passing steam can waste hundreds or even thousands of pounds each year. Thermal imaging is an excellent tool for determining the condition of steam traps, and an extremely useful part of an effective maintenance programme.
Failure of Steam Traps.
Steam traps can either fail in a closed or open state. Failure in an open state may be caused by dirt or debris preventing the trap from closing properly. The open steam trap allows steam to escape into the condensate system which is clearly a huge waste of energy. When steam traps fail in a closed state they prevent condensate from being discharged into the steam system. The condensate acts as a barrier to prevent heat exchange which will reduce the performance of a heating system. Heat exchangers can also fill with condensate preventing steam from entering them. These problems can greatly reduce the efficiency of the heating system reducing heating rates and therefore wasting energy.
Thermal Imaging of Steam Systems.
Thermal imaging is an extremely effective tool for determining the condition of steam traps but this is not the only part of the steam system which can be made more efficient. A thermal imaging camera can be used to quickly and easily locate any missing or damaged insulation. Heat energy can be lost from any un-insulated pipe work by means of radiation and convection. A survey of a steam system can highlight the location of all areas of heat loss. By knowing the dimensions and apparent temperatures of the areas causing a loss and taking into consideration the environmental factors affecting those areas the approximate heat loss through the system can be quantified. The savings in energy which can be achieved by preventing such losses can be considerable. At the same time any leaks in the steam system which can be the most expensive form of energy loss can be easily identified.