Many large facilities and high-rise buildings you find in a typical downtown make use of a utility that isn’t often thought of — steam. Most of us at some time have walked through a stadium, for example, and looked up to see the word “STEAM” stenciled on a pipe overhead. You may not have thought much more about it, but steam is an efficient source of heat and energy that is commonly used in manufacturing as well as business districts where you find concentrations of high-rise buildings and other facilities that accommodate large numbers of people. Steam is considered “clean” energy — it’s nonflammable, nontoxic, and chemically inactive with several process fluids. But there is still waste — more or less of it depending on how the steam is generated and used. Without the proper equipment to address it, this waste can cause significant challenges for facilities that have to deal with it.
In the past decade, a city in the American Midwest initiated a project to upgrade and expand its convention center. Today, the facility is one of the largest convention centers in the country. The distinction comes with significant demands on the various utilities that service the facility. Convention centers and other venues that host people in the tens of thousands typically go from being virtually empty to the size of a small city in a matter of hours. One of the consequences is the demands put on the infrastructure supporting them is nearly instantaneous and great. In the winter it’s cold in the Midwest and if the convention center is in use, its vast halls and meeting rooms need to be heated. In this particular facility, heat generation is accomplished with steam.
Depending on steam’s source and unique characteristics, the resulting condensate can be extremely corrosive and very hot. Accordingly, this expanded convention center has a number of sumps to collect condensate from the steam heating. One sump in particular was creating constant problems for maintenance crews because the vertical style sump pumps were being damaged due to the hot, corrosive condensate.
“The pumps had to be replaced every year,” said Jeff Cook, of Cook Fluid Products. “The hot corrosive condensate would prematurely wear the vertical style sump pumps,” Cook said. “In this application the combination of the heat and corrosive fluid damaged the bushings and shafts.”
The steam in this location is generated by the local gas utility at a central plant and then is piped out to customers. In this application the steam is untreated and as a result contains high levels of carbonic acid. The resulting condensate is highly aggressive and “would corrode parts on the vertical sump style pumps,” Cook said. “A lot of other places in the city that use this steam use stainless steel equipment in order get any longevity out of it,” he added.
Although the convention center sends condensate to waste rather than returning it, the condensate still has to be collected. Just maintaining that location was a challenge.
“The pit that the pumps are in has a Rhino liner in it because the pit itself was being destroyed by the condensate,” explained one employee.
The apparent answer to this ongoing problem was to find and install a stainless steel pump that would handle the highly corrosive environment and extremely high temperatures. Having reliable equipment saves time and money because production time isn’t wasted identifying a problem and bringing in new equipment to solve it.
“It’s a very tough application,” Cook said. Knowing that BJM Pumps offers a line of high temperature stainless steel pumps, Cook recommended them for this site. “BJM is a great pump company. They make high-quality pumps for a number of applications. Their Fahrenheit line was perfect for this application,” he said.
The BJM Fahrenheit® pump line is designed to handle liquids at up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit continuously. Standard sump pumps are normally rated to handle 104 degrees continuously. The BJM Fahrenheit pump is available in all 316 stainless steel construction for hot corrosive applications. The temperature rating and stainless steel construction made a Fahrenheit pump the correct choice for this application.
BJM also provides standard peripheral equipment to support its pumps. All Fahrenheit pumps come with a NEMA 4X control box including start components. BJM offers some additional features on the control box for high temperature pumps that ensure the equipment maintains its reliability even in challenging environments.
“They make heavy-duty control panels,” Cook said. Especially useful for this application are the seal minders that send a signal from the pump to the control panel in the event there’s a breach in the double-mechanical seal.
“I always suggest using the seal minders,” Cook said. A moisture sensor probe is installed in the oil filled seal chamber between the inboard and outboard mechanical seals. If the outboard seal is breached and a conductive fluid enters the seal chamber the moisture sensing probe completes an electrical circuit which illuminates an alarm light on the control panel. This feature potentially saves time and money by alerting the user that a seal needs to be changed before moisture gets into the pump motor.
“If the inboard seal is breached and water gets in the motor the pump will normally have to be replaced,” Cook said. “So it makes sense to use BJM’s control panel with the extra security to make sure the pumps can be serviced if necessary before water gets in the motor,” he added. “Replacing a seal is inexpensive.”
It’s been well over a year since the BJM pumps were installed at the convention center and none of the previous problems have resurfaced. Ultimately, finding a solution that prevents pumps from having to be repaired or replaced on a regular basis has a positive effect on the facility’s bottom line. In addition, maintenance crews don’t have to spend unscheduled time and effort repairing or replacing equipment at the expense of their regular duties. In these ways, BJM has delivered a huge return on the investment in their pumps.
“They’ve been very involved with making sure that everything works with our pumping system,” said one convention center employee with extensive involvement with the system. “As far as I’m concerned BJM is very customer oriented,” he said. “In the future we will probably be using more of their product because they give us excellent service.”
The end user’s problem has been solved, and the distributor plans to continue recommending BJM pumps for tough applications.
“BJM manufactures robust pumps for a variety of applications. Customer service is top notch, pricing is competitive, and lead times are normally short,” Cook said. “I’ll continue to recommend BJM pumps to my clients.”