Common Utilities

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Since most industrial applications demand heating, cooling and power, this section lists those common utilities in use which supply these requirements.

10.2.1 Steam

A good thermal fluid must have some basic features such as high energy storage capacity and ease of transferring its energy content in diverse conditions. Many commercial transfer fluids have these qualities. But steam adds to these attributes the ability of transferring heat at constant temperature and transforming heat into work. The first attribute allows the use of reduced size heaters compared with heating fluids whose temperature varies along the exchange equipment. The second feature increases the potential energy use of steam, allowing the same stream to release power and heat. So steam can be used in steam turbines to generate power and directly drive compressors or pumps or in steam ejectors to generate vacuum.

Steam can be readily adapted to a wide range of temperatures by pressure adjustment, concerning the use of saturated steam. It is easy to distribute and control and its heat releasing ability can be used in cascade from higher to lower temperature. After its heat content is wasted, condensate can be recycled to the boiler and steam regenerated. It can be generated with high energy efficiency in boilers, either fired or wasted heat recovery ones.

In contrast to commercial thermal fluids, steam is clean, odorless, tasteless and nontoxic. It requires common and average cost construction materials for distribution, mainly steel pipes and accessories. Its use is subject to some regular losses but they are easily replaced and their overall cost is affordable. And, water is a raw material of easy supply and low cost, so far, in most parts of the world.

356 | 10 Energy Efficient Utility Generation and Distribution 10.2.2

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