What are the 7 fundamentals of steam

Engineer checking machinery

Chris Coleman, Condensate Handling Specialist, 18/04/2019

If you’re involved in the planning, management or upgrading of steam boilers, then you may have come across the term ‘steam fundamentals’. But, what does this mean and why is it important for you as a plant manager?

Well, this is where I can come in to provide you with a few points of guidance. With so many variables to consider in any plant, having a solid grounding in ‘steam fundamentals’ will serve you well. Whether your role is ensuring that your plant is operating safely and efficiently, or planning and implementing steam and thermal energy efficiency improvements, by developing a basic understanding it will ultimately help you to achieve better safety and efficiency.

To help you re-acquaint yourself with the basics of steam and identify areas of improvement, I’ve broken down steam fundamentals into 7 key topics:

1. Boiler Types

You certainly don’t need me to tell you that the type of boiler used in a steam plant will vary depending on the application. The main task of any boiler however is to provide the correct amount of steam in a safe and efficient way.

2. How do boilers produce steam?

If, like me, you work with steam it’s important that you can find your way around the wet side of the boiler – this means understanding how the steam is produced. As a plant manager this knowledge will help you prepare for any maintenance eventuality.

3. What is steam?

Steam comes in a variety of types and so, it’s paramount that you know what steam is. Knowing what steam is, is a stepping stone in building the requisite knowledge to look for steam efficiency upgrades.

4. Steam tables

You’re likely already aware of the importance of steam tables for understanding the varying properties of steam at different pressures. Though I’d always recommend refreshing that knowledge to stay one step-ahead of your plant performance.

5. Steam and the condensate loop

Condensate must be removed from the steam system in order to keep the steam system performing at its best. If it is not removed it can cause severe damage to the system. Re-acquainting yourself with the basics of the steam and the condensate loop can help you to identify areas of improvement within your plant – boosting safety and efficiency in the process.

6. How is condensate repurposed?

Condensate can be repurposed once it reaches the feedtank, but I won’t go into too much detail here. To really delve into the world of steam and condensate systems you can join me on an ‘Introduction to Steam and Condensate Systems Course’.

7. What tests do I need to carry out within the boilerhouse?

There are 5 key tests that I suggest you should consider carrying out on your boiler such as:

• Check the feedwater treatment, deaeration and storage

• Check the level control systems on the boiler

• Check the blowdown controls and vessels

• Check what energy management systems you have in place

• Check compliance with BG01 and the HSE INDG436

Get in touch and request a copy of our guide ‘The Fundamentals of Steam’. 



Chris Coleman, Condensate Handling Specialist

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