Ineos Fluor manufactures and supplies a broad range of branded fluorine based products to several major global industries including refrigeration and air conditioning, automotive, insulation and pharmaceutical. The company’s KLEA range of HFCs (hydrofluororcarbons) was developed to replace CFCs and HCFCs in many refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing systems around the world.
Aware of the increasing pressure on engineers to reduce energy costs to cut overheads and meet legislative requirements, Andy decided to investigate the different steam traps available on the market and compare their capabilities. Following a technical appraisal, the Gardner Energy Management Venturi steam traps were selected for the trials to establish if a reduction in steam consumption could be made without negative affects on plant performance and final product specification.
Ineos Fluor’s large Rocksavage site has nine processing plants using steam as a heating medium and thereby utilising a large number of steam traps. The site does not have its own steam generating plant but relies upon an associate company, Ineos Chlor, to supply steam from a neighbouring site.
For the purpose of the trial a small area of Ineos Fluor ‘s Zephex plant was selected where steam is metered, thereby enabling potential benefits to be measured and quantified.
A total of seven traps are fitted in this particular area of the plant. It was decided to exchange five of these for the GEM venturi steam trap with one being fitted to the boiler jacket, a critical steam trap in the Zephex plant. It was decided not to change the remaining two traps, as these were not in use at the time of the trial.
During the three-month trial the GEM traps performance was monitored and the results recorded. The findings clearly demonstrated that a 20% saving in steam had been achieved utilising the GEM Venturi steam trap. The GEM traps were also found to be efficient in both steady state and variable load conditions and also drastically reduced the potential heat loss via radiation and convection. Following the completion of his dissertation, Andy Davies issued a report on his findings to Ineos Fluor.
When deciding on the location of the trial, Andy Davies had noted that there were a large the number of failed traps. He therefore asked Gardner Energy Management, manufacturers and distributors of the patented GEM trap, to undertake a survey of the whole of the site distribution mains plant.
Out of the 39 traps surveyed, a total of 28 were found to have failed. Eleven traps were observed to have failed open, six had failed closed and eleven had failed partially open. It was calculated that these failed traps were costing in excess of £60,000/year in lost steam alone.
Now Gardner Energy Management has installed 70 GEM traps throughout the site with a further 20 traps soon to be fitted. They have provided Ineos Fluor with an early payback on energy costs and a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, as the GEM steam traps have no moving parts to wedge open or closed, there are no additional costs on site surveys and replacing failed traps.
The GEM steam traps work by using the difference in density between steam and condensate. Steam is 1000 times less dense than condensate, so at the entrance of the trap’s orifice, the low-density steam is literally squeezed out of the condensate. The high density, low moving condensate is then preferentially discharged through the orifice, trapping the low-density steam behind it.
What makes the GEM trap different is its venturi orifice configuration, which works well over varying loads by using the ‘flash’ steam that comes out of condensate as it passes from high to low pressure to give a self-regulating, varying capacity. GEM steam traps provide the ultimate in reliability necessitating only minimal maintenance and requiring no spares, testing or monitoring equipment.
Available in a wide range of sizes for a full cross section of applications, the hardwearing GEM steam traps are manufactured from corrosion resistant stainless steel and are guaranteed for 10 years, obviating the need for repair or replacement. The GEM steam traps provide a fast payback - on some processes within a matter of days - from reduced energy costs and increased equipment reliability due to a reduction in damaging condensate in steam systems. In addition it improves product processing by enhancing the quality of steam and also reducing equipment repairs, downtime and replacement costs.