Good practice

Automatic control of steam-heated distillation plants

Automatic control of steam-heated distillation plants
© sivivolk, image #157237143, 2018, source:
Chemical and process engineering, Food processing
Medium cost
Annual saving:
Premises and operation areas:
Production processes

All steamed up

  • Food company investigates ways to optimise its steam production plant
  • Discovers a feed-forward system can iron out steam production fluctuation 

Steam is a major component in most food manufacturing. One producer uses steam-heated distillation columns, for example, as part of its production, but was having problems with fluctuating inflow. This was causing unstable operations and excess steam consumption.

The company needed an automated solution to better regulate its heating steam. This included a fixed set point for steam use which guaranteed a stable operating range and compliance with relevant specifications. 

One option investigated was a feed-forward connection between the feed stream and the steam application. This involves a measuring system to moderate inflow, a control valve and other control instruments. The proposed solution is also relatively simple to retrofit with some modifications to the existing control system, which keeps investment costs low.

Key benefits

Automatic steam control offers the following benefits:

  • Rapid and exact adaption of the steam applied
  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Predictable plant operation

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