Steam System Maintenance in General
Steam is used to heat buildings, heat raw materials and finish products in manufacturing and to generate electricity. Steam is not free. There are many opportunities for energy savings. In the US, It costs approximately $20 billion dollars annually to feed the boilers generating steam alone.
A steam system consists of generation, distribution and recovery. In other words, the boilers, the distribution system and the condensate return system. The purpose of an effective steam distribution system is to link the output of the steam generation system to the steam end-use equipment. The distribution system should supply high-quality steam to the end-use equipment at the required rate and pressure, and with the minimum heat loss. The purpose of an effective condensate recovery system is to make the most effective use of all remaining steam and condensate energy after process end-use.
How can Aerial Infrared help?
Checking the boilers and the lines in the steam tunnels are jobs done on the ground, but the distribution and condensate return lines that are direct-buried are best surveyed from the air. In fact, even from high altitudes, steam line inspections are one of the easiest applications for aerial infrared thermographers. Thermal contrast between active steam lines and the surrounding ground are usually good. The entire system can be flown and areas with problems pinpointed and documented.
Roofs that, for instance, have a lot of ballast, are covered with reflective coatings or for whatever reason are impossible to image from the roof. With high-resolution, plan view aerial imagery, slight nuances of temperature can be seen from far enough away to actually see the pattern of heat and make a determination of where the problems are.