Type Of Heat Losses In a Steam Plant (+How To Minimize Them)

In this article, I will share the common types of heat losses in a steam plant and how you can minimize them.


Heat loss in a steam plant is something that you can’t completely prevent.


And when heat losses occur it ends up affecting the overall efficiency of the steam plant.


You have to know that the steam plant mainly depends on heat energy to convert water to steam, which is necessary for energy generation.


The moment the heat that is needed to heat the water escapes to the atmosphere this ends up rendering the energy produced by the steam to be less.


It’s important for us to know the type of heat losses in a steam plant and know how to minimize the heat losses so that we can save energy, save money, reduce waste heat from the atmosphere and increase the overall efficiency of the steam power plants.


With that much said, let me explain the types of heat losses in a steam power plant.


Types of heat losses in a steam power plant

1. Heat losses as a result of dry flue gas.

The flue gasses that are taken out via the chimney tend to escape to the atmosphere with heat thus resulting in heat losses.


Depending on the type of fuel being burnt the flue gasses usually also contain ash, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and even carbon monoxide.


One fact you should know is that all these elements in the flue gas can absorb heat and escape with it to the atmosphere.


Later on in this article, I will share with you how these heat losses from the flue gasses can be minimized.


2. Heat losses due to blowdown.

Blowdown of a boiler is one of the practices that is done to remove solid contaminants from the boiler.


I explained more about that in the article below.


You might like this: Heat Recovery Blowdown Of A Boiler


When the sludge and other solid contaminants from the boiler are removed through the process of blowdown, the waste products usually leave the boiler with hot water from the boiler.


The hot water that leaves the boiler carries with it a significant amount of heat energy that is essential.


The blowdown of a boiler does not only waste energy but also water and chemicals that are used to treat the water in the boiler.


3. losses due to surface radiation and convection.

Heat losses due to surface radiation and convection are things that you should always expect to happen.


The metallic parts of the boiler will radiate heat energy away from the boiler and this results in heat losses.


The bigger the size of the boiler and its mountings, the more heat losses one should expect.


On the other hand, when I talk about convection, this is heat loss as a result of fluid moving from one place to another within the boiler.


The size of the boiler also greatly contributes to how great the heat loss is going to be.


Later on, in this article, I will share with you how you can minimize these types of heat losses in a steam power plant.


4. Heat losses due to moisture in the air.

The moisture in the air results in heat losses especially when the vapour comes in contact with it.


Steam power plants mainly depend on the steam being generated to provide energy.


When this steam being generated comes in contact with moisture in the air, the thermal energy in it decreases and this results in heat losses.


This tends to decrease the efficiency of the boiler by a great deal.


5. Heat losses as a result of leakages.

Leakages tend to happen in steam power plants.


These leakages can be a result of corrosion, broken expansion joints, broken seals, damaged valves, poor connections of the steam line and even damaged pumps.


When there is a leakage hot gasses tend to escape from the boiler and this results in great heat losses.


The moment hot water together with the gasses escape the boiler, great heat losses are experienced and this results in a decrease in the efficiency of the steam power plants.


6. Heat losses as a result of moisture in the fuel. 

When there is moisture in the fuel the flame delivery is not going to be sufficient enough, more fuel will be used and less heat will be produced.


This results in a great heat loss in the furnace area.


Apart from that, moisture in the fuel side of the boiler tends to corrode parts of the fuel system and if not repaired it will destroy the entire fuel system.


When this happens the heat transfer is going to be limited and this will result in great heat losses.


How To Minimize Heat Losses In Steam Power Plants

Heat losses due to flue gasses can be minimized by installing air preheaters in the outlet ducting of the boiler.


You might like this: Air Preheaters in Steam Boilers: Function, Types and Working Principles


Heat losses as a result of blowdown can be minimized by controlling the blowdown of the boiler and also recovering the heat from it.


You might like this: Heat Recovery Blowdown Of A Boiler


Heat losses due to radiation can be reduced by lagging the steam lines, using a radiation shield such as an alloy sheet or ceramic board. One can also use insulation to plug any holes.


The heat losses due to convection can be reduced by considering the design of the boiler, the size of the boiler and shielding the boiler from outdoor or indoor drafts.


Heat losses as a result of moisture in the air can be reduced by heating up the boiler room which will end up decreasing the amount of moisture in the air.


Another way to reduce moisture in the air is by using dehumidifiers. When there is little moisture in the air heat loss is going to be less.


Heat losses due to leakages can be minimized by fixing any faulty steam lines, repairing any components that are damaged and replacing any faulty valves.


Working on anything thing that results in leakages is going to minimize heat losses from the steam power plants.


Heat losses due to moisture in the fuel can be prevented by ensuring that no moisture is allowed in the fuel system. This means when feeding the fuel into the fuel system one has to ensure that the coal doesn’t contain moisture, the coal should be dried with hot air and work on any boiler leakages that can potentially go inside the boiler furnace.


Final thoughts


I have done my best to share with you several ways you can minimize heat losses in steam power plants.


But there is still more you can do to ensure that heat losses are minimized to the maximum.


Once you know the main cause of heat loss in your steam power plant it will be easier for you to work on the problem.


Reduction of scaling, cleaning the boiler and cleaning the furnace are some of the things you can do to minimize heat losses.


Ensuring that there is a proper combustion of the fuel, using quality fuel and ensuring a plentiful supply of hot air in the boiler furnace is one other thing that can help you increase the efficiency of your boiler.


What I have shared with you is going to help you a lot if you want to increase the productivity of your boiler or steam power plant.


If you have any questions about anything I have shared in this article, don’t be afraid to leave a comment.


See you in my next article.


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