Title
Intelligent Autonomous Steam Trap System
Microcontroller and sensor to save steam energy
Technologies used

Microcontroller

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    29 Taps and Valves
Abstract
Purgadores de Condensado S.L. is an 8-employee Spanish company involved in the design and manufacturing of mechanical steam traps since 1986, and having a turnaround in 1998 of 640 KEUR. The steam trap manufactured before this Application Experiment was purely mechanical, so the company never used electronic technology before this AE. The company belongs to the industrial sector NACE 2913: Taps and Valves.
Steam traps are automatic valves widely used in systems that use steam energy. Their function is to eliminate water condensation in steam lines and equipment without leaking steam and energy. They are sold to many industries, but mainly to petrochemical plants and oil refineries.
Leaks in steam traps are a significant source of losses in petrochemical industry. Manual, expensive surveillance has to be used in order to detect the valves malfunction as early as possible. The problem is aggravated by the very big number of these devices that can be installed in a typical plant (thousands), so when the failure is detected the valve may have been causing losses for a long time and causing a further wearing of the internal parts of the valve. This is the reason why an electronic early detection system represents a big step forward in this industry segment.
This Application Experiment has developed an Intelligent Autonomous Steam Trap (IAST), capable of self-monitoring its own operation, detecting immediately any type of failure, thus providing a significant advantage to the end user in terms of savings in energy and maintenance costs. This has been attained incorporating electronics for the first time to the classical mechanical design. The technology used has been a microcontroller.
The project took 24 weeks, and its budgeted costs until prototypes were 60 KEUR. Additional prototyping costs i.e. mechanical modifications on steam traps to implement this new concept have reached 57 KEUR, so the total costs of the prototypes were 117 KEUR. Industrialisation costs to bring the product to the market will take 82 additional KEUR. The company expects the total investment of 199 KEUR to be paid back in a period of 36 months, with an estimated ROI of 150% after 4 years of product life.
The company intends replicating its AE for providing RF transmission capabilities and computerised control for a next version of new and more powerful IASTS.
Company
PURGADORES DE CONDENSADO S.L.
Condesa de Venadito, 16
2027 - Madrid
Spain

Detailed information

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Microcontroller technology provided PURGADORES DE CONDENSADO S.L. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

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