Frequently Asked Questions
What is Steam Esco?
Steam Esco is an energy services company that offers a variety of custom-manufactured steam traps using Venturi-nozzle technology.
What is an energy services company?
An energy services company, energy savings company or ESCO specialises in improving the efficiency of energy use in industrial systems, either through consulting services or technology solutions. At Steam Esco, we are dedicated to optimising steam systems primarily through the implementation of our patented Green Saver steam trap technology.
Do you just offer steam traps?
No, we also evaluate your entire steam system, checking insulation, locating leaks and assessing maintenance procedures, on the basis of which we can provide comprehensive recommendations on potential improvements and their cost-effectiveness. In most cases, this will also involve the installation of Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps, but our engineers are also on hand to provide a wide variety of technical services to improve your system with minimal disruption to your day-to-day operations. This service will generally follow an Energy Performance Contracting model, whereby payment is subject to the savings we are able to deliver.
Where would you expect to find steam systems?
In short, everywhere. Steam is used to transfer both heat and energy and is present in almost every industrial manufacturing system. For instance, it is used for heating in food processing, refineries and chemical plants, and to propel turbines in power stations, as well as in compressors and pumps. Other applications include cleaning, moisturisation, atomisation and moving liquids or gases through piping. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, American industry converts around 70% of the fuel it purchases for energy into steam. That’s 37% of all forms of energy, including feedstock and electricity. Offices and residential buildings are also frequently heated with steam.
What is a steam trap?
A steam trap is a device that removes hot condensate from a steam system while ‘trapping’ steam in the system.
What is 'hot condensate' and why is it bad for my steam system?
Hot condensate is produced when the water molecules in steam bond together to form larger droplets. This occurs when steam loses its latent heat and therefore its ability to transfer heat and pressure. Steam containing hot condensate has uneven heating performance and inefficient energy transfer, as well as damage to piping and equipment through corrosion.
Does my plant have steam traps, and if so, how many?
If your facility produces steam in a boiler, it almost certainly has dozens of steam traps integrated into the piping system.
What kinds of steam trap are currently in use?
The vast majority of steam traps in use today are mechanical. These are typically opened and closed by a float that rises and falls in relation to the condensate level. Due to wear on the moving parts, mechanical traps are prone to failure and need to be replaced every three to five years. The steam traps we offer contain no moving parts and operate according to basic principles of physics, allowing them to run more efficiently and last many times longer. Click here to learn about the physics behind our Green Saver range.
What is the difference between flat-plate orifices and venturi-nozzle steam traps?
When manufacturers of conventional mechanical steam traps discuss Venturi-nozzle technology, they often misleadingly refer to simple orifice-plate steam traps. These essentially comprise a disc with a small hole in it to allow condensate to escape. The main difference between these and Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps is that our steam traps are custom engineered to produce a ‘flash’ when the condensate passes through the nozzle. This ‘flash’ will in turn ‘choke’ the nozzle and prevent steam from escaping the system. Apart from being less efficient in their operation, flat-plate orifices tend to distort over time and plug up due to eddy currents produced downstream of the orifice.
How can you tell if a steam trap has failed?
When a steam trap has failed, it allows heat energy to escape through the valve in the form of steam. This can be accurately detected through the use of infrared thermal spectrographs, ultrasound recorders and pyrometerthermal imaging technology.
Does Steam Esco conduct site surveys?
Yes, every project begins with an inspection of a single steam line or your complete steam system. This allows us to accurately determine how much energy is being lost by failed traps and the expected cost savings of installing Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps.
What savings can I expect from Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps?
Our steam traps operate 6% to 10% more efficiently than mechanical steam traps, but our experience has shown this cost saving to increase to as much as 35% after steam loss from existing failed traps and lower maintenance costs are taken into account.
Do Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps support varying loads?
Our traps work very well in systems with fluctuating loads. For example, steam loss might typically be measured for a given model at 0.090 kg/h at 50% of capacity, a figure that can increase to 0.861 kg/h at 15% capacity. Although this increase is large in relative terms, it is still less than the approximate 0.907 kg/h of live steam an efficient mechanical steam trap is likely to lose.
Can Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps cope with changing ambient conditions?
Yes, the impact of changing outside temperature on the performance of our steam traps is small, particularly if the piping if properly insulated.
Do you provide test units?
Yes, we are happy to provide test units to help our clients measure the benefits of our technology for themselves.
What is the typical life expectancy of a Steam Esco Green Saver unit?
As they contain no moving parts, Green Saver steam traps can last for as long as 20 years if regularly cleaned. In that time, you might need to replace a mechanical steam trap up to five times, so our steam traps can significant reduce the costs of inventory, maintenance and site surveys over their lifecyle (click here to learn more about the benefits of Steam Esco Green Saver steam traps). All our units come with a 15-year guarantee as standard.
How accurately can you predict savings?
Based on a full site survey, including analysis of existing operating conditions, fuel consumption, maintenance practices and operating procedures, and reference and actual throughput limits, we can measure potential savings to a very high degree of accuracy. On this basis, we are able to make detailed recommendations, both for installation of Green Saver steam traps and other upgrades to your facility’s operations.
Do you offer financing as part of your ESCO service?
The typical ROI (return of investment) of our solutions is short, so we are happy to arrange a variety of off-balance-sheet financing constructions to offset the up-front cost of installation against future energy savings. Please contact us for further information.
Can you advise on carbon credits and emissions trading?
Yes, our partner company Vertis Environmental Finance is an environmental commodities trader specialising in emissions and energy efficiency.
Why “Green Saver”?
Our products are “green” because they save energy, but they also save our clients the other kind of “green” – money.