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When searching for a steam source solution for your business, you probably have come across two common systems that sound similar: electric steam generators and steam boilers. Although they both produce steam for a variety of uses, there are many differences between the two systems, especially with the way they operate. Understanding these differences and the design of both systems will help you determine the right one for your process needs.
What Is a Steam Generator?
Steam generators are smaller and faster alternatives to steam boilers. They feature a relatively simple design for heating water and converting it to steam. To operate, feedwater pumps send a continuous stream of water into a steam generator’s single stainless steel tube coil. As the water passes through the generator in the metal coil, it’s exposed to the heat from hot gasses outside the coil. The feedwater then becomes hotter and hotter, eventually converting to steam and exiting the vessel through a single exit point. The steam can then be used for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.
Most steam generators feature a single coil and have a once-through, forced-flow design. Any excess water that doesn’t convert to steam collects into a filter for reuse or disposal, and excess gasses can also travel through the generator for easy release. The design makes the steam generator simple and easy for small to moderate amounts of steam generation.
What Is a Steam Boiler?
Steam boilers are similar to steam generators, but they operate on a much larger scale (and with a more intricate design as a result). They are used in large commercial or industrial operations that need more steam output than most steam generators can provide. They have a complex fuel system and pressure vessels that can withstand high pressure levels, which allows them to convert water to steam by boiling water at subcritical temperatures.
Because the systems are more complex, operate at potentially dangerous pressure levels, and create high volumes of hot steam, some buildings must have a licensed operator on-site the entire time the boilers are in operation. These individuals must hold certification regarding safety, operational requirements, and how to respond to emergencies and malfunctions.
There are two main types of steam boilers:
Firetube boilers have a large water tank with multiple pipes running through the tank. The boiler also has a large fire, quickly burning fuel to heat up gasses running through the pipes until they reach very high temperatures. This heat then passes through the pipes into the stored tank water, where it causes the water to boil, convert to steam, and rise to the top of the tank. From there, the connecting systems can use the steam as energy for industrial or building processes.
Watertube boilers are effectively the opposite of firetube boilers, and they are a newer alternative to traditional firetube constructions. Whereas firetube boilers have a tank of water and run heated gases through the tubes, watertube boilers instead have water from a reservoir run through the pipes. The body of the boiler houses multiple lengths of pipe filled with a continuous stream of water. Hot gas heated by a fire surrounds all of the tubes, and the heat transfers inside the tube to make the water boil and turn to steam. The steam rises to the top of the pipes, and the still-liquid water goes back to the reservoir before being sent back through the pipes for heating and conversion.
Advantages of Steam Generators
Steam generators are smaller, easier to install, and less potentially dangerous than steam boilers. Some of the specific advantages they provide are:
- Compact design: Their small footprint and simple design make it easier to set up a steam generator and get it running. This is ideal for emergency or on-demand steam generation.
- Ease of operation: Their simplicity means facilities can more readily take on operational and maintenance tasks. They also don’t require the on-site presence of a licensed and certified operator.
- Cost-effectiveness: Steam generators have a lower initial cost than steam boilers, as well as fewer maintenance and staffing costs.
- Efficiency: Steam generators are incredibly energy-efficient, achieving a nearly 100% electrical energy to heat energy conversion.
For smaller commercial steam requirements, emergencies, and on-demand steam systems, steam generators can be the right solution.
Advantages of Steam Boilers
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Steam boilers are larger and more powerful than steam generators. This gives them several advantages, including the following:
- Greater steam production capabilities: Both types of steam boilers are larger, more powerful, and more capable of producing high volumes of steam.
- Dynamic steam generation: Steam boilers can also respond to fluctuating steam demands throughout work cycles, both producing more steam during busy cycles and quickly transitioning to producing less steam when less is needed.
- Can fulfill continuous steam demands: Once steam boilers reach optimal production levels, they can continuously meet high levels of demand.
Why Use a Steam Generator Over a Steam Boiler?
Many smaller processes that use steam do not need a large boiler. For those smaller processes, an easily portable steam generator would be the best tool for the job. A few of the top reasons to use an electric steam generator instead of a fuel-fired steam boiler include:
- Safety: Electric steam generators use no combustible fuel, therefore are not subject to major failures as fuel fired boilers are. Fossil fuel fired boilers can suffer failures from low conditions, poor water treatment, improper warm-up, pulling a vacuum, flame impingement, severe over-firing and even outright explosions.
- Portability: Steam generators have a smaller design that allows them to be used when facilities have limited space. Electro-Steam’s small-scale generators are portable and do not require extensive installation, such as boiler rooms and long steam lines
- Energy efficiency: Electric steam generators consume no energy while idle. When operational they only cycle when steam is needed. This is especially helpful in warmer months when full power may not be necessary. Fuel fired boilers require much more energy to run at full strength and, due to its larger design and extensive piping system, cannot easily be turned off and on and constantly burn fuel even when steam is not in demand
- Quick start: A steam generator’s compact design, single chamber, and relatively lower water demand allow these systems to achieve rated output in only minutes from a cold start, as opposed to boilers that can take hours. This quick-start capability makes a steam generator ideal for emergencies and instances where steam may not be needed for lengthy periods of time, such as pilot plants, labs and process testing.
- Cost: Installing a steam boiler system at your facility can be time-consuming and costly. Steam generators cost much less than a full-scale fuel fired boiler system, so they may work better for applications that do not require high levels of steam like those produced by boilers
Contact Electro-Steam Today
The winner of the steam generator vs. steam boiler debate will depend on the application and your facility’s energy production needs. We hope this short post will be helpful when deciding which system is right for you. Electro-Steam’s units are suited for both smaller steam required applications and large ones, in which boilers are used. If you have questions about or need information about our steam generators and steam boilers, contact Electro-Steam today. The Electro-Steam team will work with you to determine the system that will best fit your needs.
In the commercial sector, humidity has a profound effect on daily operations. For example, low relative humidity (RH) may cause illness or discomfort in employees, while fluctuating humidity may affect product or process quality in manufacturing operations. For these reasons, humidifier manufacturers have developed commercial humidification systems to help companies maintain proper humidity levels in their facilities.
Below we provide an overview of commercial steam humidifiers, including some of the advantages of using them and examples of typical applications.
Why Use Steam for Commercial Humidification?
By using steam humidification systems in their commercial facilities, industry professionals experience the following benefits:
Better Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is significantly improved when the RH is between 40–60%. At these levels, both the presence of airborne bacteria and viruses and the development of fungi, mites, and ozone are reduced. As a result, the occurrence of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory symptoms among employees is much lower.
Greater Employee Comfort
Drier air forces the human body to give up moisture. As moisture transfers from areas of higher humidity (the human body) to areas of lower humidity (the surrounding environment), the object losing the moisture (the employee) feels colder. Adding moisture into the workspace, slows the rate of evaporation, making employees feel warmer without increasing the actual temperature.
Higher Manufacturing Process Quality
In manufacturing operations, humidity is critical to the performance of production equipment and systems. As any changes in humidity can significantly affect how certain materials react and interact, it is important to maintain consistent levels to ensure the finished parts demonstrate the same dimensions and quality from batch to batch. A humidification system helps achieve this goal.
Commercial Applications of Humidification Systems
Humidification systems find use in many commercial applications, including the following:
In wood shaping operations, steam generators are often used to soften and increase the pliability of materials. The wood can then be bent and shaped into musical instruments and other wood products.
Numerous compounds, including adhesives, coatings, concrete, and fabric, rely on humidity to cure properly. Additionally, some materials continue to absorb and release moisture even after they are cured. For the latter, low RH levels can cause shrinkage that results in gapping, loss of structural integrity, and other damage. The use of a humidification system ensures materials cure properly and retain their shape and strength.
Once harvested, crops are temporarily stored before they are distributed to retailers and consumers. Storage operations often involve rapidly cooling the harvest to between 2–4° C to ensure it maintains its freshness. However, some products may experience damage during the cooling process. One solution industry professionals employ is introducing moisture during the chill down stage to prevent the crops from losing moisture while they are stored.
In hospitals, different rooms have different humidity requirements depending on their purpose. Steam humidification systems allow hospital personnel to ensure each location maintains the proper humidity levels for their given application.
Electro-Steam Steam Generators for Humidification
Steam generators are an ideal solution for a wide range of commercial humidification applications. For all your humidification needs, turn to the experts at Electro-Steam.
At Electro-Steam, we offer an extensive selection of steam generator units suitable for supplying moisture to commercial facilities, including:
For additional information about our steam generators and how they can benefit your commercial application, contact us today.
There are many advantages to electric steam generators. They offer substantial power combined with easy installation and simple use, making them appealing for a variety of different environments and applications. Electric steam generators are also quiet, clean, and relatively small in size compared to dual-fuel generators. Since they don’t require flammable fuel, there’s less mess, no exhaust, no need for flues or long piping runs from boiler rooms as these units, in most cases, can be installed close or next to the point of use.
What Are Electric Steam Generators Used For?
Electric steam generators are highly versatile and can be used in any application that requires a reliable source of process steam or even clean steam. Many different industries utilize electric steam generators for their cost-effectiveness, reliability and inherent safety. Electric boilers also use significantly less water than other systems and require zero treatment chemicals – without sacrificing power or performance.
Potential applications for electric steam generators may include:
Electric Steam Generators vs. Dual-Fuel Generators
When it comes to choosing a generator, not all options are created equal. Dual-fuel generators have quite a few disadvantages that often make them a less preferable choice when compared to electric steam generators.
For example, dual-fuel generators require significantly more maintenance and have much shorter lifespans. This leads to negative financial impacts in the form of downtime, maintenance and replacement costs. Dual-fuel generators are also fairly large. This makes them less versatile, as they require installation in a boiler room and take up a great deal of floor space.
Additionally, dual-fuel generators aren’t always reliable even when they’re functioning at their best. These machines run fossil fuel sources that may be reduced or disrupted due to natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances. Natural gas and other flammable fuels emit carbon dioxide and can be explosive, so regular fuel line inspection and maintenance is typically required. Electric steam generators emit no CO2 or other gasses except water vapor.
Advantages of Electric Steam Generators
In contrast to dual-fuel generators, electric steam generators have a great many advantages that make them an ideal choice for a number of different applications. Some of these benefits include:
- Electric steam generators offer a relatively environmentally friendly option in comparison with dual-fuel generators. In fact, electric steam generators are 98% efficient and emit no pollutants at the reduction of use. The efficiency results in a conservation of water and energy, which makes electric steam generators both green and budget-friendly.
- Electric steam generators provide either low (0-15 psi) or high pressure (0-100 psi or higher) dry steam in less than 15 minutes from cold startup. Since they do not use fuel and don’t require any type of fuel storage, electric steam generators are also smaller than dual-fuel generators.
- Electric steam generators are ultimately safer than dual-fuel generators because they do not make use of potentially explosive fuel.
Quality Solutions at Electro-Steam
Every one of Electro-Steam’s pressure vessels is made in-house. These units are available in multiple configurations, giving users the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ve selected the right tool for the job.
No matter what type of industry you work in, Electro-Steam can provide safe, efficient, and high-quality electric steam generators. We have satisfied customers around the world with generators designed for a wide variety of custom applications, from cleaning on offshore oil rigs to offloading trucks and thawing railcars.
We can provide a targeted solution for any unique need. If you feel that none of the equipment on our website will address your operational challenges, that doesn’t mean we can’t provide a solution. Contact us or request a quote at any time to speak with one of our application specialists and find out how we can meet your needs.
In the pharmaceutical industry, clean steam finds use in a variety of pharmaceutical applications, such as the sterilization and sanitation of equipment and materials, creation of chemical compounds, and the dilution of IV drugs. The following blog post outlines typical applications of clean steam in the pharmaceutical industry and the benefits of using it.
Clean Steam in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The use of clean steam in the pharmaceutical industry ranges from sanitization to inclusion in pharmaceutical products. Typical applications include:
The pharmaceutical industry frequently employs clean steam to sterilize equipment, avoid the cross-contamination of ingredients in consecutive batches of pharmaceutical products, and prevent the growth of biological contaminants. A sterilize-in-place or steam-in-place (SIP) system is typically installed in pharmaceutical facilities to further clean equipment between production cycles after the completion of the clean-in-place (CIP) process.
SIP systems employ superheated water purified to USP standards for sterilization operations. According to ISO 13405:2006, they must heat manufacturing equipment for sterile healthcare products to a temperature of 250° F for a minimum of 30 minutes. The systems monitor the temperature and times of the sterilization process to ensure it complies with the process requirements.
Generating the clean steam needed for sterilize-in-place and other pharmaceutical applications necessitates the use of one of two types of equipment: clean steam generators or water purification systems. Clean steam generators create superheated purified steam for the sanitization of equipment and surfaces. Water purification systems generally consist of a larger purification network that often incorporates a clean steam generator.
Compound Distillation and Extraction
Clean steam plays a role in a variety of pharmaceutical compound manufacturing processes, including:
- Steam distillation to isolate fatty acids
- Extraction and purification of organic compounds
- Heat generation for distillation, extraction, and formula creation
As these processes often produce compounds intended for human use, they require high-purity steam. This requirement demands the use of a clean steam generator.
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Benefits of Clean Steam Generators
Clean steam generators offer a number of benefits for users in the pharmaceutical industry, such as:
Reduced Corrosion Potential
Due to the purification process, clean steam is less corrosive than standard utility steam, which must often be treated with corrosion-inhibiting chemicals to avoid corroding system components. Clean steam does not have the same corrosive effect, thereby allowing equipment to last longer and produce higher purity products.
Prevention of Microbial Growth
Clean steam is maintained at temperatures that are sufficiently high enough to ensure the prevention of microbial growth in the system. Clean steam generators must be specifically designed to prevent the collection of condensed water in any part of the system where microbes and endotoxins may be exposed to the steam and contaminate the product.
Stainless Steel Clean Steam Generators From Electro-Steam
At Electro-Steam Generator Corp., we offer a wide range of clean steam systems, including:
- LG Models with power ratings of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 kW
- LB Models with power ratings of 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, and 240–480 kW
- Indirect Models with power ratings of 30 kW to 240 kW (based on utility input)
- Models with pressure capacities from 0–100 psi and pressures over 100 psi
For additional information on our steam generator offerings and the role they play in pharmaceutical applications, view our eBook or contact us today.
In the beverage industry, steam is widely used for cleaning and sanitizing operations. It is used to:
- Reach into areas that are often inaccessible to other cleaning methods (e.g., cloths, brushes), making it an effective and convenient way to clean hard-to-reach areas and equipment parts
- Quickly remove stubborn soils, including grease and oils that coat processing and packaging equipment
- Clean and sanitize the machinery used for processing beverages such as conveyor belts
It plays an important role in ensuring a facility’s processing operations meet the industry standards for safety and sanitation.
The Importance of Steam Cleaning in the Beverage Industry
Cleanliness is one of the key considerations in the beverage industry. As products made in this industry are generally intended for human consumption, manufacturers must ensure they maintain a high level of hygiene within their processing operations and equipment to guarantee the safety of their consumers and the quality of their products.
Traditional cleaning methods involve the use of water—which can damage sensitive machinery—or harsh chemicals—which can comprise the safety of processing equipment surfaces. On the other hand, dry vapor steam cleaning uses pressurized and low moisture steam to safely clean, sanitize, and dry hard-to-clean surfaces. Some of the advantages of using this method include:
- Microbial and chemical contaminants are mitigated by the high temperature and high pressure of the steam
- No water residue is left behind so equipment can be used immediately
- Food-safe quality of the processing equipment is not affected as chemicals are not used
- It is safe to use on electrical equipment and inside control panels
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Typical Uses of Steam Cleaning for Beverage Producers
Within the beverage industry, steam is used to clean and sanitize a wide range of equipment without the use of harsh chemicals. In particular, industry professionals employ it to remove residue and contaminants—such as soil, pathogens, and insects—from:
- Bottling lines
- Condensing units
- Electrical control panels and other sensitive electrical components
- Facility structures such as wall, floors, and ceilings
- Oak barrels
- Refrigeration systems
- Stainless steel surfaces
- Storage and blending tanks
- Ventilation ducts
Benefits of Steam Cleaning for Beverage Producers
Dry steam vapor cleaning is a versatile and effective cleaning method. In addition to allowing for more thorough, chemical-free cleaning, it also provides beverage producers with the following benefits:
- More efficient kettle or tank brewing system operations due to the heat generated during the cleaning operation
- Easier equipment location and relocation as the systems employed are smaller in size
- Lower risk of fire and explosion as the systems do not use combustible products
- Faster and easier installation as the systems only require a water feed connection and electrical hookup
At Electro-Steam, to ensure the safety and integrity of our dry steam cleaners and generators, each of our systems comes with:
- A full-color operations manual
- A fully insulated chamber
- A NEMA-2 louvered stainless steel control panel
- A stainless steel cabinet/housing
- Appropriately sized safety valves possessing the ASME V Mark (these valves are built by a manufacturer holding a valid ASME Certificate of Authorization).
- Automatic low water cut off controls
- Dual automatic operating pressure controls
- Manual reset high limit pressure controls
- Stainless steel heating elements
- UL certification
Why Use Steam?
Using dry vapor steam for cleaning and sanitizing operations is both cost-efficient and eco-friendly as the method uses less water and no chemicals. Despite its gentle footprint, steam cleaning is more effective than methods that use chemicals or aggressive water techniques as steam can reach places other methods can’t and scours and sanitizes with ease.
If you’re interested in steam cleaning systems, you owe it to yourself to see what we offer at Electro-Steam. As one of the oldest manufacturers of electric steam generators, we have more than 65 years of experience providing high quality steam cleaning equipment. Our long history has given us more familiarity and understanding with the food and beverage industries than any of our competitors.
To learn more about our clean steam generators or for assistance selecting one for your beverage processing facility, contact us today.