Category Archive: Steam Generators

How Do Steam Shrink Tunnels Work?

Electric Steam Generator

Shrink tunnels use heat to shrink film sleeves around various containers for labeling purposes. Steam heat shrink tunnels are known for their efficiency and precise control. These tunnels harness the natural properties of steam to distribute heat evenly and quickly, which enables consistency and quality across products.

Manufacturers utilize steam shrink tunnels to accommodate a wide range of product sizes and shapes. Explore our steam generators for more insights into steam power for shrink tunnels.

How Steam Heat Shrink Tunnels Work

A steam heat shrink tunnel uses steam as a medium to transfer heat to objects in an enclosed space. Steam passes through the tunnel and envelops the objects, maintaining high heat levels as it shrinks the sleeves. The steam tunnels include sophisticated manifolds and valves that control the intensity and direction of steam flow.

Operators can optimize the process to match product specifications and desired production rates by adjusting the following design parameters:

  • Tunnel length
  • Opening size
  • Conveyor speed

Temperature plays a central role in the shrinking process. Operating within a specific temperature range prevents deformation on empty bottles and preserves the chemical integrity and physical properties of the product inside.

Applications of Steam Heat Shrink Tunnels

Steam heat shrinking is ideal for applications involving full-sleeve labels on contoured containers. Precise temperature controls keep graphics sharp and colors vibrant, without the distortion or wrinkling often caused by higher heat methods.

Key applications of steam heat shrink tunnels include:

  • Beverage Industry: Ideal for applying labels to bottles and cans, ensuring they withstand moisture and temperature variations without peeling or fading
  • Pharmaceuticals: Ensures tight, tamper-evident seals on bottles and containers, maintaining product safety and compliance with regulatory standards
  • Cosmetics and Personal Care: Applies smooth, wrinkle-free labels to uniquely shaped bottles, enhancing product appeal on competitive retail shelves
  • Food Packaging: Offers a reliable method for sealing products in heat-sensitive films that conform tightly to the shape of food items, preserving freshness and extending shelf life

Steam tunnels are particularly beneficial for high-pressure packaging or flammable products, providing a safe and efficient option for sensitive applications.

Benefits of Steam Heat Shrink Tunnels

The primary advantage of using steam tunnels is their superior heat distribution. Unlike dry heat methods, the moisture from the steam can quickly penetrate and surround shrink films for a more efficient process. Steam also results in a more even application, maintaining quality and enhancing the visual appeal of products on shelves.

Steam heat shrink tunnels offer precision and greater scalability, making them a valuable asset for any business labeling packaged goods. Such consistency is key to maintaining brand standards and consumer trust.

Contact Electro-Steam for Steam Generators for Shrink Tunnels

Steam shrink tunnels offer a robust solution for a breadth of packaging needs, combining safety, efficiency, and quality in one effective process.

Whether you’re looking to enhance the visual appeal of your products or need a reliable system for high-pressure applications, steam shrink tunnels are designed to meet these demands. Their versatility and precision ensure optimal outcomes for every use, from simple packaging tasks to complex, sensitive operations.

Explore how our steam generators can support your packaging operations by reaching out for a free demo on food processing or contact us for more information.

How Does Steam Destroy Microorganisms?

How Does Steam Destroy Microorganisms?

Steam cleaning is an ideal method for sterilizing surfaces. Sterilization involves increasing the temperature of the water until it becomes a gas (vapor), which raises the temperature of a given surface. The high temperatures quickly kill any microorganisms living on the surface.

Various facilities rely on steam generation for sterilization, including hospitals and various other critical care facilities.. Electro-Steam offers a line of steam generators for sterilization in food production, food processing, and even winemaking and bottling. We have been a trusted manufacturer of steam generation equipment since 1952.

How Steam Eliminates Microorganisms

Steam sterilization uses thermal energy from steam to kill microorganisms. During the sterilization process, high-pressure saturated steam comes in contact with lower-temperature surfaces and releases heat from condensation. Microorganisms in a steam sterilizer are killed by exposure, leaving surfaces sterile for production.

Steam sterilization works well for several reasons. Moist air is exponentially more effective at conveying heat energy than dry, hot air. For instance, cooking potatoes in a steam pressure cooker reduces cooking time from several hours to several minutes.

Steam also softens the outer layers that protect microorganisms, coagulating the sensitive inner portions of the microbe in a process similar to cooking an egg white. However, greasy or oily environments can protect microorganisms from the effects of steam. Thoroughly cleaning the treatment area in advance is critical for proper sterilization.

The following variables can be adjusted to ensure the lethality and overall effectiveness of steam:

  • The degree of heat exposure
  • The duration of exposure
  • The volume of moisture

Assess the packaging material and surfaces that you intend to treat. Certain items will not maintain their integrity when exposed to steam. Additionally, moisture can damage sensitive products such as electronics and soft plastics.

How Is Steam Sterilization Performed?

Autoclaves (pressurized vessels) are the most popular moist heat sterilization devices. Autoclaves use pure moist heat to generate clean steam by removing air from the chamber and replacing it with pure, saturated steam.

The full steam sterilization process occurs in three basic steps:

  • Preconditioning the chamber and load. Air is removed from the chamber and replaced by saturated steam.
  • Running the sterilization cycle. Chamber pressure increases, raising the water’s boiling point to 121 C. Steam heats the chamber walls as it accumulates, raising the temperature of the solution and destroying microbial proteins.
  • Removing steam from the chamber. Once steam has been removed, pressure is normalized.

Applications of Steam Sterilization

Moist heat steam sterilization (such as autoclaving) is preferred for sterilizing utensils, instruments, wrapped goods, and hollow items in medical settings. Other applications that depend on moist heat steam sterilization include:

Contact Electro-Steam Generators for Steam Generators

Electro-Steam is an OEM manufacturer of steam-generating equipment for a range of applications. Our quality, efficiency, and warranty make Electro-Steam products suitable for pharmaceutical applications, medical settings, food processing and packaging, and more.

Contact us or request a quote to speak with a team member about your steam generation needs today.

Tips to Minimize Contamination With Steam Sterilization

Tips to Minimize Contamination With Steam Sterilization

Providing clean steam for pharmaceutical manufacturing and healthcare applications is crucial for ensuring the proper sterilization and safety of products, equipment, medical tools, and patients. Heated and pressurized clean medical steam and pharma steam effectively kill microbial contaminants and help facilities adhere to strict cleanliness criteria to comply with industry quality and safety standards. In this blog, we’ll detail helpful tips for reducing contamination in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors through steam sterilization.

Use Clean Steam

Having contaminant-free steam is important for numerous operations ranging from sanitation to humidification. Pure steam will comply with industry requirements for such processes, which dictate steam’s acceptable dryness, total organic carbon and endotoxin content, and water conductivity.

Lacking any additives or additional substances, clean steam is the result of heating one of the following water sources above 212º F until it vaporizes:

  • Water for injection (WFI)
  • Highly purified water (DI)
  • Purified water (RO)

This process eliminates the risk of source water entrainment and, as long as you maintain these thermal conditions for the appropriate time period, it’s highly effective in eliminating bacteria and microorganisms. When holding temperatures constant, sterilization times will vary based on the type of sterilizer you’re using, an item’s material construction, whether it’s wrapped or not, and other related factors.

Use Proper Clean Steam Systems

Products for markets like healthcare and pharmaceuticals are held to high standards when it comes to safety and quality. They require high-purity processing to minimize the risk of corrosion or product contamination and comply with all industry-based regulations.

Clean steam systems help prevent bacterial growth, consisting of high-grade, non-porous stainless steel parts and assemblies for the material’s hygienic properties. A quality, reputable steam sterilization system should come with the following documentation:

  • 3:1 Material certificates
  • Certificate of origin
  • Certificates of compliance
  • Standard test reports
  • Surface finish reports

The general principle behind steam sterilization is to ensure that each component or device you’re sterilizing comes into direct contact with the clean steam. Within the controlled environment of an autoclave, you can achieve the proper pressure and temperature conditions for that steam and sterilize items for the necessary time period.

Steam sterilizers are available in two basic varieties: high-speed pre-vacuum sterilizers and gravity displacement autoclaves. Utilizing a vacuum pump to pull air from the sterilizing chamber before steam enters, high-speed pre-vacuum sterilizers provide virtually immediate steam penetration for porous goods. Gravity displacement autoclaves sterilize nonporous items, water, regulated healthcare waste, lab media, and pharmaceutical goods with direct-contact steam. To successfully sterilize wrapped medical supplies, you must maintain temperatures of 270º F in high-speed pre-vacuum sterilizers for 4 minutes and 250º F in gravity displacement autoclaves for 30 minutes.

Comply With Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes and enforces what are called the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. These guidelines set the acceptable standards for:

  • Procuring high-quality materials
  • Utilizing properly designed systems
  • Instituting robust operational procedures
  • Developing quality management systems
  • Monitoring equipment and its performance
  • Identifying and evaluating any deviations in product quality or consistency
  • Maintaining the state of your manufacturing and laboratory facilities for quality products and dependable testing results

By having these standardized CGMP regulations in place and adhering to them, your medical or pharma operation can better assure and manage product purity, overall quality, strength, and proper ingredients. CGMPs will help you avoid not only contamination but also manufacturing deviations or mix-ups that would negatively impact your pharmaceuticals and ability to produce a consistent product.

Proactively and Regularly Assess Steam System Performance

The following factors affect the purity levels of steam, which then impacts the quality, safety, and efficacy of finished goods:

  • Sterilization system design
  • Materials for construction
  • Quality of feedwater
  • Production practices
  • Maintenance procedures

Like with any equipment, it’s important to be proactive about steam system inspections, maintenance, and repairs to ensure continued and optimal performance. Reviewing your equipment periodically lessens the chance that you’ll be caught by surprise and experience downtime in your steam system operation. This also helps guarantee that your system will continue to generate compliant, contaminant-free pure steam suitable for medical and pharmaceutical applications.

Contact Electro-Steam for Clean Steam Sterilization Solutions

Established in 1952, Electro-Steam Generator Corp. is a leading OEM manufacturer of electric steam generators. In fact, we make the most reliable miniature electric steam generator available on the market today. As part of our extensive American-made offerings, our team produces high-quality stainless steel generators in various configurations and sizes to reliably supply medical and pharmaceutical sterilizer equipment like autoclaves with clean steam.

We also offer exceptional service and technical support. Electro-Steam’s expert team is able to diagnose 95% of equipment issues over the phone as you stand in front of it in your facility, even if you lack a mechanical background. A five-year warranty comes standard on our units, with one-year coverage on components. We handle all parts and warranty inquiries quickly and accurately — often with same-day shipments.

Contact us today to learn more about the steam sterilization process and how a steam generator from Electro-Steam can support quality and efficiency in your operations.

Steam Applications for Different Industries

Because it is so versatile, steam is used in many industries. It’s common to find steam sanitization systems and specialized manufacturing processes that incorporate steam in many settings. Steam generators are an affordable and reliable source of steam ready to use, on demand.

Below are just a few examples of steam sanitation operations and other ways steam is used in manufacturing.

Steam Pipe Cleaning

In-line degreasing and cleaning use hot steam to clean and maintain equipment without disrupting production or disassembling equipment. These steam pipe cleaning operations are called clean-in-place (CIP) and sanitize-in-place (SIP) systems. Examples include cleaning systems for:

  • Oil and gas industry pipes
  • Paint lines and nozzles
  • Filling lines, bottles, and conveyors in beverage bottling

Similarly, home and commercial kitchen drains can be cleaned with steam. It removes grease and food residues from drains and grease traps without chemical cleaners or clog removers.

Steam Applications for Different Industries

Furniture Bending

Steam bending is a method of shaping natural materials like wood and bamboo. The material is placed inside a sealed steam box into which steam is injected. Depending on its hardness and thickness, the material sits for several hours until it becomes pliable.

The hot steam softens the lignans and fibers in the material so it can be formed into the desired shape. The softened material is clamped or braced against a metal form and left to cool. Once cool it will retain the new shape.

This method does not involve glues or cuts to the material, which reduces waste and scrap. The end result is also highly aesthetic because the process does not break the wood grain or cause cracks.

Musical Instruments

Steam bending is also used in making wooden musical instruments such as guitars or violins. The principles of steam bending for musical instruments are very similar to those for making furniture and in woodworking.

Heating of Railcars and Shipping Containers

Steam is used for multiple processes that involve railcars and shipping containers. It can be used to create a heat jacket around tank cars, making it easier to pump viscous liquids like adhesives, waxes, or molasses, into and out of the vessels.

Steam is also used to clean and sanitize rail tank cars to remove grease and residues and prevent microbial growth. Dry steam is used, so it does not leave standing or condensed water behind. Another advantage to steam cleaning is portable systems can be brought to the individual railcars instead of sending them all to a separate facility for cleaning.

Concrete

There are two ways to cure concrete with steam: under atmospheric pressure or with high-pressure steam. The size of the piece and environmental conditions determine the method. Curing under atmospheric pressure is best for large pieces or cast-in-place units. It is critical to carefully control the temperature ranges and amount of time the concrete is held at each temperature.

Curing concrete with high-pressure steam is beneficial when high early strength is needed for quick unmolding, or when the concrete requires heat to properly hydrate. Pieces must be enclosed in an autoclave to control the pressure, so this process is limited to smaller pieces. High-pressure curing is used in areas with cold temperatures for relatively quick curing.

It is also possible to steam clean concrete once it is properly cured and finished, such as in flooring, landscaping, or driveway applications.

Candy

In the food industry, some types of chewy candy are coated with sugar crystals. This adds texture and flavor and prevents sticking.

A conveyor belt moves the candies into a chamber filled with food-grade steam. This heats them just enough to partially melt the surface. They are slightly moistened by the humidity as well.

Next, the candies are conveyed into a rotating, double-walled cylinder, along with a large amount of sugar crystals. As the cylinder turns the individual candies tumble and are coated with the sugar. Excess sugar falls through small holes in the inner cylinder and is held in the outer one so it can be used for subsequent batches.

Once fully coated, the candies are conveyed out of the cylinder and are ready for packaging.

Contact Electro-Steam for Steam Generation Solutions

Regardless of the application, Electro-Steam has the generators and steam equipment to meet your needs. Since 1952, we’ve supplied customers in many industries with easily operated, easily maintained, top-quality steam solutions.

Our experts are ready to discuss your application and help you find the right solution based on your specifications. For more information or a quote, reach out to us today and we’ll connect you with one of our experts.

The Different Types of Steam in Industrial Steam Generation

Industrial facilities rely on different types of steam to manage tasks ranging from consistent heating and processing to managing sanitation. There are many steam types available, and choosing the right one for a given application is essential. At Electro-Steam, we provide steam generation systems suitable for a wide variety of industrial steam needs. This guide will break down the different types of steam frequently used in industrial contexts to help you find the type you need for your facility.

Types of Steam

Learn more about the different benefits and applications of these common types of industrial steam.

Dry Steam

Dry steam is a type of steam with no lingering liquid in the fluid. All of the liquid has been changed to a vapor. Superheated steam, for example, has been heated to the point where no liquid remains. Other steams can act as dry steam, provided there’s a built-in method to capture the liquid before it reaches an application surface.

Saturated Steam

Saturated steam is a specialized type of dry steam. While there may be some liquid remaining in the vapor, it can be easily trapped and contained. In saturated steam, the steam is at boiling point (212 °F) at atmospheric pressure or higher at increased pressure levels. Because of the relationship between pressure and temperature, steam equipment can increase the boiling point by increasing the pressure.

Saturated steam is commonly used in pharmaceutical production applications because it can provide rapid but even heating and has a high heat transfer coefficient. Operators can also fine-tune the temperature through pressure controls.

The Different Types of Steam in Industrial Steam Generation

Superheated Steam

Containing less than 1% moisture, superheated steam is another type of dry steam that is hotter than its boiling point at atmospheric pressure. Superheated steam can reach higher temperatures and lower densities compared to saturated steam at the same pressure point. It can also be cooled without returning to liquid form or producing condensate.

This resistance to becoming liquid makes it an ideal choice for applications like powering the movement of turbines. The steam can move through the nozzles and push the turbine blades, spinning the shaft that generates power, all without presenting the risk of returning to liquid and causing corrosion. It stays ultra-dry throughout its use.

However, there are some drawbacks to superheated steam. It can have varying temperatures even at a steady pressure and has a lower heat transfer coefficient than other steams. Superheated steam won’t release latent energy until it reaches the right level of saturation. Also, because it does reach such high temperatures, it requires specialized equipment that can handle it.

Utility Steam

Utility steam is a type of saturated steam. Most industrial steam processes use utility steam, which contains both latent and sensible energy. Unlike Electro-Steam’s equipment, traditional boilers usually treat feed water with additives that prevent it from corroding boilers or other equipment. This steam is usually classified by low, medium, or high pressure levels. In traditional boilers, utility steam also needs to run through a filter to remove rust, condensate, and other particulates that can contaminate the steam. Even then, utility steam is usually not used in direct contact with products or food but is a means to transfer energy to the relevant process.

While utility steam is used for boilers and a wide range of industrial applications, it’s not clean enough for culinary, medical, or pharmaceutical needs.

Culinary Steam

Culinary steam is regulated by the FDA to ensure any chemical additives designed to prevent rust comply with applicable health and safety regulations. It’s commonly used to sterilize surfaces used in food processing and preparation operations. Along with meeting FDA standards, culinary steam must comply with 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. (SSI) Accepted Practice 3A-609-03, meet other company-specific policies, and use filtering systems.

Filtered Steam

Filtered steam undergoes a filtering process to remove additives or contaminants so it can be more safely used in sterilization applications.

Clean Steam or Pure Steam

Clean/Pure steam doesn’t have additives and is produced from heating purified water (RO), highly purified water (DI), or water for injection (WFI). Clean/Pure steam can be used in pharmaceutical, healthcare, and medical contexts.

Clean steam is generated by systems that use saturated steam, and the resulting condensate can be classified as water for injection, such as saline solutions. Clean steam itself can be used in other various processes such as humidification and sanitation in which contamination cannot be present. Clean steam systems are made from high-grade stainless steel components, piping, and other non-porous materials.

Choose the Right Steam System for Your Facility

VB 10-40 Electric Steam GeneratorsDifferent types of steam have very different characteristics, can be used in specific applications, and meet the requirements of various health and industry standards. Now that you know the distinctions between various types of dry steam vs. wet steam, you’re ready to begin selecting the right steam system for your facility. Electro-Steam provides 100% American-made steam generators for food processing, cleanroom, medical processing, sterilization, and other industrial applications.

Contact the team at Electro-Steam to find the right steam generation system for your needs.