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Proceedings Paper

Steam-leak cost estimation using thermographically acquired pipe temperature data
Author(s): Robert P. Madding; Neal A. MacNamara
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Paper Abstract

Predictive maintenance practitioners readily diagnose steam leaks through drain using infrared thermography, often supplemented with ultrasonic probe verification. Typically, a pipe carries the leaking steam to a flash tank or directly to the condenser. Thus, the energy used to create the steam is what is lost, not the steam itself. However, the cost of steam production is not inexpensive. We have found steam leaks we estimate cost $30 K/year. As a part of the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI's) Boiler, Condenser and Steam Cycle Applications Project, the EPRI M&D (Monitoring & Diagnostic) Centers have begun acquiring steam leak data at several electric utilities. Estimates of steam leak costs are key to evaluating cost savings and recommendation of corrective action, but are hampered by lack of knowledge of the steam flow in the line. These lines are usually not instrumented because typically there is no flow. Consequently, we must derive an indirect method of estimating steam flow. This can be done for uninsulated pipes given knowledge of the pipe surface temperature gradient over a known distance. For single phase conditions, the mass flow of steam equals the heat lost from a length of pipe divided by the temperature drop along the length and the heat capacity of the steam. Pipe heat loss is calculated knowing the pipe diameter, pipe surface temperature, ambient air temperature and using American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) tabulated values. The temperatures are derived from thermographic data. Distances can also be derived from thermal imaging radiometer data, depending on the type of system employed. To facilitate calculation of steam leak cost estimates, we have developed a Microsoft ExcelTM spreadsheet macro. The user can interface directly with the spreadsheet, entering appropriate temperatures, distances, pipe diameter, heat rate, cost of power, etc. Or, the analyst can use thermal imaging radiometer analysis software to semi-automatically input the temperatures and distances.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3056, Thermosense XIX: An International Conference on Thermal Sensing and Imaging Diagnostic Applications, (4 April 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.271635
Show Author Affiliations
Robert P. Madding, EPRI Maintenance & Diagnostics Ctr. (United States)
Neal A. MacNamara, Southern Nuclear Co. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3056:
Thermosense XIX: An International Conference on Thermal Sensing and Imaging Diagnostic Applications
Richard Norman Wurzbach; Douglas D. Burleigh, Editor(s)

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