Chemical Engineering Question:
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What is a good way to get started in doing a plant-wide steam consumption analysis?

Answer:

It is unclear as to whether or not you know the total steam consumption. If you do not, one way to get it is to take the nominal capacity of the boiler in terms of heat, i.e. the total rated Btu/hr. This is usually available either through the documentation you have for the boiler or even on the nameplate. You also must know the steam pressure you are producing. Using the steam tables, get the enthalpy of the steam and divide it into the nominal boiler capacity to get the total rate. I hope that you also know how much of the capacity you are using, 50%, 75% etc. Multiply this by the total lb/hr to get your rate. Another way to get the capacity is by using the amount of boiler feed water you are sending to the boiler and the known level of steam you are producing. Do not forget to include the blow down in your heat & mass balance. Getting the rate to each plant is more difficult if you are lacking in instrumentation. Use as much plant instrumentation as possible; flow meters, pressure and temperature indicators. If you do not have a meter in each header to each plant, then see if you have them in sections or to pieces of equipment using the steam. Another way is to measure the amount of condensate you are returning to the boiler. If you are dumping the condensate, you may be able to collect and measure the amount in a pail from each source. Another way is to use the process instrumentation and do some mass and energy balances around the steam users.

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