Steam Audits and Reducing CO2 Emissions
Companies are being urged to reduce CO2 emissions as a result of climate change. Burning natural gas in a boiler or furnace can emit large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Natural gas is primarily composed of methane (CH4) and when burned in the presence of oxygen (O2) it produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O).
CH4 + 2(O2) => CO2 + 2(H2O)
Now both CO2 and H20 are greenhouse gases, but of the two, CO2 is non-condensing. Once CO2 is emitted into the higher atmosphere it stays there continually building up (unless more trees are planted) and contributing to the greenhouse effect. H20, on the other hand, condenses and “rains out” of the atmosphere when there is an excess of it – although the greater the earth’s temperature rises the more H2O it can hold (positive feedback).
Burning less gas in your boiler plant without making your steam and condensate system or process more efficient is usually ineffective, as current gas usage and equivalent CO2 output is directly linked to production. Evaluating the current steam and condensate system to identify areas for energy efficiency improvement can be done in-house or with a specialized steam audit. When using a third-party to perform the steam audit, an engineer would survey the steam system to identify efficiencies that may not have been readily apparent. Recommendations are made to either increase production capacity or reduce energy usage, which would then enable lower gas usage.
Reducing CO2 emissions can have a positive impact on the environment and can create a financial benefit. Government funding in the form of grants or tax offsets are offered in some regions as well to support efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.