One of QT's first CDM methodology approvals was for steam management in the petrochemical sector. QT in partnership with one of the world leaders in steam management, Armstrong International, drafted AM0017 for steam management in oil refineries and petrochemical companies. This project is among the first energy efficiency methodologies approved and will help bring carbon finance for upgrades in one of the largest steam users in the world. In most developed countries, for example, the petroleum industry uses about 40 percent of its energy use to generate steam, a figure that is even higher in the chemical industry.
Steam projects can be replicated in oil refineries and petrochemical facilities around the world, and the carbon finance - given the massive losses in steam in many facilities - can pay for the entire project in 4- 5 years (and save millions of gallons of water).
Venting Steam and Wasting Energy
What is a Steam Trap? Four basic components make up a steam system: a boiler, distribution piping, heat exchangers and/or process equipment, and a condensate return system. As steam is distributed through the system, it begins to lose energy and by the time the steam reaches the point where it does work (at a heat exchanger or process equipment), it begins to turn back to water (condensate). Condensate also forms along the distribution system. When condensate forms, it needs to be removed right away because it very quickly reduces the quality of the steam and efficiency of the system. A closed-loop system (returning the condensate) is optimal, because the condensate, with its waste heat, can be reused - saving a great deal of energy and water, chemicals for treatment and sewer charges.
Essential to removing condensate are steam traps, which are mechanical valves installed through the distribution system that open to discharge condensate, air and other impurities that reduce the efficiency of steam lines. When using steam at any temperature and pressure, failure to remove the condensate, air and non-condensable substances reduces the heat transfer, causes water hammer and leads to significant energy waste. In most industrial facilities, steam traps are often not applied nor installed properly, inspected often enough, or replaced when failed.