Category Archive: Electro-Steam Articles

A Guide to the Different Types of Steam

Steam is water that has passed from the liquid phase to the gaseous phase. This process occurs when enough heat is applied to bring the water to its boiling point (i.e., enthalpy of vaporization). At this point, the hydrogen bonds keeping the H2O molecules joined together break down, allowing them to move more freely. These free molecules form steam.

Steam can be classified into two main types: dry steam and wet steam. These can be further divided into subtypes based on a variety of characteristics, such as quality (e.g., clean steam) and temperature (e.g., superheated steam). Since there are many types of steam and each type has distinct properties that make it suitable for different applications, some people may find it challenging to choose the one that best suits their needs. That’s why the experts at Electro-Steam have put together the following guide on the different types of steam. It outlines what they are, what benefits they offer, and what applications they are used in to help readers with the steam selection process. 

Dry Steam

Dry steam—also referred to as saturated steam—does not contain any water molecules in suspension. As a result, it holds almost no moisture (less than 0.5% commercially) and maintains a highly transparent appearance. It is produced by heating water in a pressure vessel or other closed chamber until it reaches vapor-liquid equilibrium. 

Benefits of Dry Steam

There are many benefits to using this type of steam. For example: 

  • It is eco-friendly. Dry steam vapor is often used as a green cleaning alternative. It can be utilized to clean and sanitize surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • It is less likely to cause corrosion. Due to its low moisture content, dry steam carries a smaller potential for corrosion.   
  • It is sanitary. Dry steam can easily penetrate beneath surfaces and spread to hard-to-reach places, making it highly effective for cleaning and sanitation operations.
  • It is safe. The pressure of dry steam is very low, which makes it much safer to use than pressurized hot water. 

Applications of Dry Steam

Dry steam finds use in a number of industrial and commercial applications. Typical facilities and locations where it is used for cleaning and sanitation operations include: 

  • Car washes
  • Commercial cleaning sites
  • Food processing plants
  • HVAC systems
  • Kitchens
  • Medical and pharmaceutical facilities
  • Wineries and breweries

Clean Steam

Clean steam is a broad term used to refer to steam that is suitable for use in applications with high sanitation requirements (e.g., medical and pharmaceutical processes). The steam is processed and produced such that it does not contain any additives or unwanted materials that can contaminate the surfaces it touches. It must be able to generate condensate the meets the US Pharmacopoeia specifications for purified water. 

Benefits of Clean Steam

This type of steam offers the following benefits:

  • It is suitable for sanitary environments. Due to its high purity level, clean steam is suitable for use in operations where it may come into contact with food, beverages, and other products that must remain uncontaminated. 
  • It prevents the growth of microbes. Clean steam can be used to destroy microbes on surfaces without leaving behind any contaminants. 

Applications of Clean Steam

The high purity level of clean steam makes it suitable for use in the following facilities:

  • Biopharma facilities
  • Patient care and treatment centers
  • Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing plants

Superheated Steam

Superheated steam refers to steam that has been heated to a temperature greater than its vaporization point for the given pressure. As a result, it can cool slightly without condensing back into a liquid. 

Benefits of Superheated Steam

Superheated steam has many beneficial properties that make it suitable for different applications. For example: 

  • It is used in power generation operations due to its ability to carry large amounts of energy. 
  • It is used for food processing operations due to its high heat transfer efficiency.
  • It is used in biofilm disinfection operations due to its effectiveness at destroying microbes.

Applications of Superheated Steam

As indicated above, superheated steam is commonly used for the following applications: 

  • Food processing
  • Surface cleaning and sanitization

Learn More About Steam From the Experts at Electro-Steam

Want to learn more about the different types of steam and find the right steam source for your application? Ask the experts at Electro-Steam!  Equipped with over 60 years of steam equipment manufacturing experience, our team can answer and address any questions or concerns you may have. Additionally, if you need steam equipment, we’ve got you covered! We offer a range of high-performance steam generators and steam cleaning equipment suitable for use in a wide range of industries and applications. If none of those suit your needs, we can build a custom solution tailored to your exact requirements and restrictions. 

Contact us today for more information about our equipment catalog and customization capabilities.

How to Mitigate Allergen Buildup in Food Processing Equipment

Facilities that deal with allergen-containing foods and substances must pay especially strict attention to maintaining clean facilities. Leaving even a small amount of allergens in food products can result in customer sickness or even death, so it’s essential to take every opportunity to ward against allergen buildup in your facility.

The FDA enacted the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act of 2004, (FALCPA), in an effort to identify known food allergens and reduce food borne illnesses. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was later enacted to prevent food borne illnesses rather than just react to them.  Food processors began refining and improving their Food Allergen Control Programs. In this guide, we discuss some of the best ways to implement these practices in your facility.

The Four S’s for Controlling Food Allergens in Food Processing Equipment

Effective allergen removal strategies rely on the four S’s:

  • Separation
  • Segregation
  • Scheduling
  • Sanitation

Separation

Many facilities separate contaminated areas from clean zones. This technique is even more important to the allergen-control process than it is to manufacturing products, as it allows workers to employ rigorous cleaning procedures without risking the spread of allergens to other areas.

Sectioning off your facility especially helps when your processes carry the risk of splattering or projecting substances across far distances. Partitions within your facility can catch such residue and channel it to appropriate receptacles for safe disposal.

Segregation

Food processors must segregate ingredients from each other to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. This means that they carry out as many processes as possible on allergen-containing and “safe” ingredients in separate areas of the facility.

Some food processing plants employ physical barriers to help mitigate the problems associated with the airborne spread or spilling of allergens. This practice is especially prevalent in receiving areas, and many facilities elect to load and unload allergen-containing foods in separate areas from allergen-free materials. Other facilities have employees mark pallets of allergen-containing foods with indicators to keep everyone on the same page.

Scheduling

Many food processing plants adjust their schedules to accommodate working with allergen-containing and allergen-free foods and processes. For example, scheduling all your processes that involve allergen-containing products for a specific period of the day or week means that you can clean the relevant equipment to an acceptable standard before switching to another type of food. This enables you to dedicate more production time to both allergen-containing and allergen-free processes and spend less time cleaning in the long run.

Sanitation

The thread holding all these other techniques together is, of course, sanitation. Investing in the latest sanitation equipment and procedures will ensure that your facility maintains its health and safety ratings and provides high-quality products to customers. There are a few handy tricks for implementing good sanitation practices.

Traditionally, facilities employed a mix of chemical and water processes to clean equipment. However, chemical sanitation methods don’t always adequately sanitize food, as microorganisms have developed survival mechanisms to tolerate various stresses during food processing, and chemicals used for pathogen control don’t often have the same effects against allergens (and vice versa).

Furthermore, cleaning to remove potentially harmful allergens during product “change-overs” can be problematic when introducing water and chemicals into the production areas and preparing the equipment to a validated standard in a timely manner. Water left on the floors and aisle-ways can pose significant safety hazards.

This is why more manufacturers in the food industry are turning to dry steam cleaning. When paired with other sanitation techniques, steam is highly effective at cleaning allergen residues and harmful pathogens on surfaces and equipment, thereby helping clean surfaces to acceptable levels.

Allergen Control Points in the Manufacturing Process

Pay close attention to the areas in your facility that pose the highest risk of accumulating or spreading allergens. Some of the most common control points include:

  • Ingredient storage: Products containing allergens must be isolated from allergen-free products in your facility 
  • Production scheduling: Production schedules should be formatted to isolate products that contain allergens
  • Food contact surfaces: Surfaces contaminated with allergens must be effectively cleaned to validated standards
  • Non–food contact surfaces: Even surfaces that don’t regularly come into contact with allergens must be safeguarded against employee contact and airborne particles
  • Sampling and testing: Many facilities use test kits to detect the presence of allergens in food products and on surfaces and equipment
  • Appropriately labeled packaging: It’s essential to clearly label allergen-containing foods to prevent customer food borne illness and death

Efficient Allergen Removal with Electro-Steam

If you would like to learn more about how to best incorporate our systems to your facility, contact us today. 

Electro-Steam manufactures highly efficient electric-fired miniature boilers and steam cleaners that have kept facilities around the world free of contaminants since 1952. We also offer custom solutions for a wide range of industry challenges. With the exception of our hawk series, all of our steam generators are built by an ASME Certificate holder in accordance with ASME BPVC Section I – Rules for Construction of Power Boilers (“ASME BPVC Section I”). They also comply with the requirements outlined in The National Board Synopsis of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Laws, Rules and Regulations (NB-370) RULES FOR CONSTRUCTION AND STAMPING section, which for many jurisdictions include but are not limited to ASME BPVC Section I, ASME CSD-1, ASME B31.1, and REGISTRATION WITH THE NATIONAL BOARD.

Guarding Against MRSA

Over the past several years, the number of documented cases of Community-acquired Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) in otherwise healthy people has been steadily on the rise. Many of these infections have occurred among the following groups:

  • Athletes who share equipment
  • Those sharing personal items, such as razors and towels
  • Children in day care facilities

Symptoms of CA-MRSA can include the following:

  • Cellulitis
  • Endocarditis
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood poisoning
  • Organ failure
  • Death

Due to the increase in outbreaks, (more…)

Reducing your Chemical, Water, and Effluent Expenses

Written by Myles Compton, Process Consultant, Electro-Steam Generator

Chemical waste reduction has become an even more important issue for the powder coating industry in recent years. In many areas, zero discharge is now a strict requirement. In consideration of this, plant and job shop owners must seek a method to handle all chemical effluent in their facility, with the ultimate goal being the least amount of waste possible.

Pressure washers have been used for many years to remove heavy and tenacious soils from trucks, heavy machinery, and rail cars. For this removal process, pressure washers are the method of choice because high pressure and a large volume of water will rapidly remove these soils.

Pressure washers are also frequently used to clean and iron phosphate metal prior to powder coating. When using this method, (more…)

How to Dramatically Reduce Your Chemical and Effluent Costs with Dry Steam

Written by Myles Compton, Process Consultant, Electro-Steam Generator

Environmental concerns over waste-water and or water chemical mix disposal are becoming more apparent as metal working companies seek efficiency conservation and environmental compliance in their cleaning and preparation processes. These environmental concerns are primarily in the area of effluent disposal.

Pressure washers are used by many facilities for heavy duty cleaning in a wide variety of applications, such as trucks, bulldozers and other heavy-duty equipment. When these behemoths are covered with heavily laden soils the pressure washer has few equals. The high volume of water combined with detergents removes these soils readily. The large volume of water is not a problem because the material being removed from the equipment is not a threat to the environment. Thus both the washing and the rinsing do not present a problem of effluent disposal.
(more…)