Repairs Result in Savings
a time of state budget deficits and related cost-saving measures,
plant operations has found a way to save the NMU general fund $205,000
annually: by monitoring and fixing the university’s steam traps.
steam trap is one of the most important parts of a steam heating
and cooling system. Steam is an efficient heat transfer that transports
energy from a central location—in Northern’s case, the Ripley Heating
Plant—to any building that needs to be heated. As a by-product of
this process, condensate is formed and detoured back to the heating
plant, where it is converted back into steam. This is where the
steam trap becomes important because the trap stops the steam from
merging with the condensate and therefore prevents the loss of a
great amount of energy.
time a trap fails a certain amount of steam is lost,” said Jim
Inch (Plant Operations).
the past, a failing steam trap was detected only through manual
inspection. In 2000, NMU implemented the steam trap maintenance
to this program there was no means to check on the traps annually,”
said Dennis Cieslinski (Plant Operations). “Before,
we found a problem and fixed it.”
program included an initial survey last summer of the 1,434 steam
traps located on campus. The survey led to several repairs and replacements
of the traps by Northern trades workers.
the repairs and replacements completed, Northern has increased its
traps from 1,434 to 1,617. The annual check of the traps will result
in substantial savings, according to Cieslinski, since approximately
4 percent of a system’s traps will fail annually.
more efficient we can make these steam lines, the less money we
have to spend to produce the demand needed,” Inch said.
Prepared by Miriam Moeller.