Heat is basis of our life. If heat came only from the sun’s rays, large areas of the earth would be uninhabitable for man. Artificial heating (thermal heat) is therefore necessary, depending on the geographic position and season of the year. In addition to this, there are also a great number of technical processes that are only made possible through heat, for example, cooking, boiling and cleaning processes in the food and drink industry. But in many other branches, too, such as the paper, building, chemical or textile industry, many processes function only with heat (process heat).
Industrial hot water boiler systems for generating thermal heat are very similar to the household heating boilers in our cellars. The main difference is that industrial boilers are dimensioned significantly larger, so their heating capacity is not only sufficient for a family home but also for hotels, hospitals, skyscrapers, industrial buildings or entire districts. When using process heat generated by steam boiler systems the individual applications are far more versatile. They are used in many industry sectors.
Laundries and cleaning firms
This is an obvious example of what steam is used for. It is just easier to get rid of spots and dirt when the washing water is heated. Our washing machine at home does the same, however with electrical heating. In large laundries this would be inefficient as electrical energy is too expensive. Steam can also be perfectly used for downstream processes like pressing, using the mangle, ironing or finishing. We know this process from steam-ironing at home; steam simply removes all creases.
Food must often be heated or boiled during processing. Thus this industrial sector obviously needs plenty of thermal energy. However, some steam applications are still stunning; a good example is potato processing.
Most people know that a good and tasty beer consists of hops, malt and water. However, before enjoying the beer there is a complex production process. Malt has to be ground coarsely and mixed with water. The brewer calls this mashing. The mash must be heated to various temperatures in two to four hours. Steam generated with the steam boiler is normally used as a heat carrier. Subsequently, hops are added and the mixture has to cool down. Then yeast is added and triggers the fermentation so that the beer gets the desired effect. Again after bottles or barrels have been emptied they are normally returned to the brewery. Of course the breweries first have to clean them before they can be refilled. For this process steam is again required to heat up the water needed for cleaning.
Building materials industry
Large amounts of steam are also necessary for the production of molded bricks. The basic materials like sand, lime, water, etc. are mixed and pressed to relatively loose stone compounds. Subsequently, the stones are transported to a huge pressure vessel (autoclave) which is then closed and steam is injected. The stones have to harden at a temperature of approximately 200 °C and a pressure of about 16 bar for a certain period of time and can then be withdrawn as finished stones.
Sewer pipe rehabilitation
What to do if there is a drain leakage? This problem can either be solved by means of excavation works at the underground pipes and renewal of the sewage pipe systems or with rehabilitation tubes. These tubes are overdimensioned hoses that are inserted in the pipes without excavation work and then inflated with steam. The plastic hose attaches itself to the sewage pipe under application of pressure and temperature and the pipe can continue to be used for many years.