Steam Boilers: An Important Part of History
Imagine life before steam. Transportation was more difficult. Communication was more difficult. Commerce was more difficult. The list goes on and on. The invention of the steam engine was an integral part of industry during the Industrial Revolution. Today, it is involved in or responsible for nearly all electricity generated and consumed around the world.
Steam boilers are vessels in which steam is produced and captured. It is then used in order to heat homes and businesses. It can also be used as an energy source for industrial processes. The specific term “steam boiler” is typically used in reference to heat generation; however, technically it can be applied to any type of equipment heats water and stores or uses the steam for a specific purpose. Most steam boilers are examples of high pressure boilers. Pressure builds as large quantities of steam collects inside a contained enclosure. When enough steam is built, the energy released can power the moving parts of a machine.
Steam boilers, when used for heat generation, have very few components. They widely vary in shape and size depending on its specific application. Steam boilers have a pressure vessel to store steam, a heat source and a valve to release steam. The pressure vessel is typically made of steel. The success and productivity of a pressure vessel depends on its construction. Poor pressure vessel construction could cause boiler failure, which could be catastrophic. Following the strict regulations set forth by the ASME is just one way to prevent boiler failure.
The boiler’s heat source could be coal, natural gas or other fossil fuel, wood or electric heating elements. Each source has its advantages and disadvantages as far as efficiency, expense and environmental damage. The boiler valves are also very important to the boiler’s construction because they are responsible for directing pressurized steam and releasing it during emergencies (in order to prevent explosions).