Why Steam Power Is Still Relevant in 2015
When you think of steam products or steam power, you probably think first of the steam locomotive, or of the steam-powered factories of the Industrial Revolution. What you might not know is that steam still has a major role to play today, both in heating applications (radiators) and industrial ones. Here are three reasons steam power is still relevant, and is likely to stay relevant for a long time to come:
- Steam Power Is Effective
There’s a reason steam powered the Industrial Revolution and yet remains in use today; it’s actually a very sensible power source. Because steam is compressible, it can be used to store large quantities of energy; and because liquid has a small volume, it’s easy to transport. Plus, the properties of water are well known, making calculations regarding steam systems relatively simple. That’s why, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 87% of U.S. electricity (as of 2011), was generated by steam or hybrid systems. Take a look at steam pressure tables and you’ll see the potential.
- Steam Power Is Efficient
Steam-powered systems can also be very efficient. Most include condensers that allow water to be re-used. In fact, efficiency problems in steam systems are almost always due to maintenance issues of steam products, rather than being inherent to the medium. New, quality equipment can keep steam losses below 1%. But when a system isn’t regularly assessed to make sure that any steam regulators and stream trap valves are working, efficiency can drop drastically. A space heating system with a central boiler, for example, will lose approximately 20% of its steam via leaking steam traps if they have not been replaced (in systems that have not received maintenance in the past three to five years, between 15% and 30% of the steam traps installed may have failed). So if you’re seeing low efficiency in a system, that’s probably something that can be fixed with simple replacement steam trap parts.
- Steam Power Is Sustainable
Another positive feature of steam power is that it can be sustainable, depending on the energy source used to heat it. If steam is heated with an energy source that can be renewed without depleting resources, that reduces overall dependence on fossil fuels, and that reduces air and water contamination, it is generally considered sustainable. Sustainable steam power is currently being worked on in the automobile industry, shipping industry, manufacturing industry, and housing industry, among others.
Do you have any questions about steam systems and steam products, whether that’s regarding steam traps on radiators or larger steam-powered applications? Join the discussion in the comments.