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  • Insulation Blankets Bring Energy Savings to Albany Medical Center

    Shannon insulation blankets, covers and jackets are designed for conserving energy and thermal efficiency. In a recent case study they supplied Albany Medical Center’s district heating system, in Albany, NY, with a self-contained insulation system.

    Initially, the medical center purchased reusable blankets as part of a pilot project for steam components within a single mechanical room. The energy savings from these blankets spurred the center’s facilities engineering department to request an energy survey for the district system. Shannon’s energy survey team calculated that Albany Medical Center would save 9.8 billion BTUs per year by installing custom-fit reusable blankets across the medical center’s district heating system.

    “The energy survey showed we could insulate the entire system with reusable blankets and achieve a payback in 18 months; that ultimately became 23 months due to the dropping cost of fuel, but still a very good payback,” said Karen Seward, director of Facilities Engineering for Albany Medical Center.

    Shannon’s team precisely measured the center’s steam system and engineered and installed reusable INSULTECH® blankets for approximately 500 components ranging from pipes to butterfly valves and strainers to safety relief valves. 

    “Most universities and healthcare systems have tackled energy-efficiency projects such as improving lighting and auditing the building envelope,” said Frank Kovacs, president of Shannon. “Reusable insulation that’s engineered and installed correctly is the next, big area of energy savings for employers. The energy savings makes the cost of ownership little to none.”

    Click here to read the complete case study as published by Contracting Business. For more information on how Shannon's Insultech insulation blankets can improve your system's efficiency contact the team at Campbell-Sevey


  • Steam Tip 15: Benchmark the Fuel Cost of Steam Generation

    Benchmarking the fuel cost of steam generation, in dollars per 1,000 pounds ($/1,000 lb) of steam, is an effective way to assess the efficiency of your steam system. This cost is dependent upon fuel type, unit fuel cost, boiler efficiency, feedwater temperature, and steam pressure. This calculation provides a good first approximation for the cost of generating steam and serves as a tracking device to allow for boiler performance monitoring. Table 1 shows the heat input required to produce 1 lb of saturated steam at different operating pressures and varying feedwater temperatures. Table 2 lists the typical energy content and boiler combustion efficiency for several common fuels. 

    Data from the tables above can be used to determine the cost of usable heat from a boiler or other combustion unit. The calculations can also include the operating costs of accessories such as feedwater pumps, fans, fuel heaters, steam for fuel atomizers and soot blowing, treatment chemicals, and environmental and maintenance costs.  


    A boiler fired with natural gas costing $8.00/MMBtu produces 450-pounds-per-square-inch-gauge (psig) saturated steam and is supplied with 230°F feedwater. Using values from the tables, calculate the fuel cost of producing steam. 

    • Steam Cost = ($8.00/MMBtu/10Btu/MMBtu) x 1,000 lb x 1,006 (Btu/lb)/0.857 = $9.39/1,000 lb

    Effective Cost of Steam 

    The effective cost of steam depends on the path it follows from the boiler to the point of use. Take a systems approach and consider the entire boiler island, including effect of blowdown, parasitic steam consumption, and deaeration. Further complications arise because of the effects of process steam loads at different pressures, multiple boilers, and waste heat recovery systems. To determine the effective cost of steam, use a combined heat and power simulation model that includes all the significant effects. 

    Multi-Fuel Capability 

    For multi-fuel capability boilers, take advantage of the volatility in fuel prices by periodically analyzing the steam generation cost, and use the fuel that provides the lowest steam generation cost. 

    Higher Versus Lower Heating Values 

    Fuel is sold based on its gross or higher heating value (HHV). If, at the end of the combustion process, water remains in the form of vapor, the HHV must be reduced by the latent heat of vaporization of water. This reduced value is known as the lower heating value (LHV). 

    This tip is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and originally published by the Industrial Energy Extension Service of Georgia Tech. For suggested actions and resources, click to download the complete US Department of Energy Tip Sheet. 

  • Troubleshooting Vacuum Operation of an Inter-After Condenser Unit in an Ethylene Plant

    A system of compressors powered by surface condensing steam turbines is inherent in the operation of a typical ethane cracker unit. These turbines run by extracting work from high-pressure steam, while a surface condenser condenses the turbine's exhaust to both maximize compressor horsepower and recover valuable condensate.

    In an ethane cracking unit, a troubleshooting study was undertaken to investigate an inter-after condensing unit and vacuum instability in the surface condenser. The troubleshooting study, summarized in this article by Graham, consisted of field observations, equipment review, trial runs and data collection. Click to see the complete details of the study and what it discovered. 

  • New "Steam Trap Testing" Course Available on Armstrong University

    For industry trades people and professionals interested in earning continuing education credits or learning more about steam, air and water systems, Campbell-Sevey highly recommends Armstrong University. The online courses are engaging and are the result of more than 1,600 years of combined experience between Armstrong employees, representatives and leading technical experts.

    In this newly added course on Steam Trap Testing, you will:

    • Discover the reasons for steam trap testing and the economics of energy savings associated with repair or replacement of failed steam traps.
    • Learn how to test the most common types of steam traps.
    • Learn the recommended frequency for steam trap testing.

    Armstrong University's robust curriculum spans more than 10 colleges and 100 courses of study. Click here for access to the complete list and to get discounts on course curriculum through Campbell-Sevey.


  • Test Your Knowledge: How Are Steam Losses Calculated?

    Steam losses are typically calculated using one of two well known formulas. What is the name of the formula illustrated on the right?

    1. Napier's Formula
    2. Campbellseveyian Formula
    3. Hoytan's Formula
    4. Masoneilan's Formula
    5. Brianrossian's Formula

    And the answer is...

    5. Masoneilan's Formula

    The two most commonly used formula's to calculate steam loss are Masoneilan's and Napier's.

    If you haven't guessed, the other formulas list are based on Campbell-Sevey:

    • Campbellseveyian Formula – this one if obvious
    • Hoytan's Formula – Hoyt A. Sevey founded Campbell-Sevey in 1937. While he didn't create a formula to calculate steam loss he did create a great formula for success - superior products, superior knowledge, superior solutions.
    • Brianrossian's Formula – Brian Ross came to work for Campbell-Sevey in 1975 and serves as President of the company. 


  • Thermal Blankets Provide Immediate Energy Savings

    Though straight runs of piping are normally insulated, in a typical steam system, radiant heat escapes from exposed valves, strainers, and steam traps, causing the loss of thermal energy. With just one Gate Valve equal to the surface area of 5 linear feet of pipe, those surface areas add up quickly, creating energy losses as high as 5%. 

    To prevent radiant and convective heat loss, Campbell-Sevey recommends Shannon’s INSULTECH Thermal Blanket Insulation. INSULTECH is a high quality removable / reusable, self-contained insulation system, custom fit to form around steam equipment that provides immediate energy savings. 

    Because of its excellent ASTM tested thermal insulation performance the INSULTECH Blanket System keeps heat in, improving your steam system efficiency. At the same time it prevents heat from escaping so it lowers the ambient temperature in mechanical rooms, tunnels and general work areas, reducing your cooling costs.

    Above image shows heat loss surrounding Y Strainer before and after being wrapped by INSULTECH Thermal Blanket.

    To learn more watch the video above then contact the team at Campbell-Sevey can make your system more efficient. 


  • Post Featured Image

    Why Steam is the Most Widely Used Heat-Carrying Medium in the World

    Air, water and steam are the most commonly used ways to distribute heat to process loads. However, steam offers several advantages hot air and hot water don't have:

    • The heat carrying capacity of steam is much greater than air or water
    • Steam provides its own locomotive force
    • Steam provides heat at a constant temperature

    For example, consider the quantities of air, hot water and steam required to transfer 1,000,000 Btu/hr of heat to a process. 

    STEAM: If 100 psig steam were condensed in a heat exchanger, the mass flow rate of steam required to transfer 1,000,000Btu/hr of heat would be about:

    Msteam = Q / hfg = 1,000,000 Btu/hr / 881 Btu/lb = 1,135 lb/hr

    HOT WATER: If the temperature of hot water dropped by 100º F as it passed through a heat exchanger, the mass flow rate of water to transfer the same amount of heat would be about nine times as much as steam:

    Mwater = Q / (cp x dt) = 1,000,000 Btu/hr / (1 Btu/lb-F x 100 F) = 10,000 lb/hr

    HOT AIR: If the temperature of hot air dropped by 100º F as it passed through a heat exchanger, the mass flow rate of air to transfer the same amount of heat with the same temperature difference would be about 34 times as much as steam:

    Mair = Q / (cp x dt) = 1,000,000 Btu/hr / (0.26 Btu/lb-F x 100 F) = 38,500 lb/hr

    FLOW RATES: The higher flow rates required by water and air require pipes and ducts with larger diameters than steam pipes, which increases first cost and heat loss. In addition, air and water do not propel themselves. Thus, hot air and water distribution systems require fans or pumps, whereas a steam distribution system does not require any additional propulsion for outgoing steam and a very small pumping system for returning the condensate to the boiler. 

    CONSTANT TEMPERATURE: Finally, because steam condenses at a constant temperature, 100-psig steam could heat a process stream to a maximum temperature of 338º F which is the temperature of the steam. On the other hand, the temperature of water and air decrease as heat is transferred; thus, if the heat in these examples was delivered by a cross-flow heat exchanger, the maximum temperature of the process stream would be 100º F less than the incoming temperature of the air or water. 

    Because of these advantages, steam is the most widely used heat-carrying medium in the world. 


  • A Total Eclipse for the Fun

    There is nothing like a solar eclipse to get the Campbell-Sevey team out of our offices . . . and staring up at the clouds. 

    Because the last total solar eclipse in the US happened in 1979, last Monday the team was excited to see one of nature's most awe inspiring events. With Charlie Thomas in Missouri, his daughter Lucy in Oregon, Brian Ross flying over Seattle, and the rest of the crew in Minnetonka everyone waited for the moon to block out the sun. While the results were mixed for some, as shown in the images below, we all had a lot of fun with it. 

    Are you curious to know when the next total eclipse is going to be? Check out this site ( which features a map of all future solar eclipses for the next century. Next up for the US, April 8, 2024!

    A glimpse of the eclipse from behind the clouds in Minnetonka.

    With a break in the Missouri rain, Charlie with family and friends hoping for a break in the clouds to see the eclipse, which didn't happen.

    However it did get dark enough during total totality to break out the glow sticks! Yes, it really did get that dark.

    Here's a view of Seattle from the plane Brian was on during their peak eclipse. They had 92% solar coverage (or, technically, obscuration).

    The real winner was Charlie's daughter Lucy, who is working at a camp in Oregon. 

    Here is her image during total totality which captures the sun's corona, visible to us only during a total eclipse. 

    Lucy and many of the campers poolside in Oregon awaiting the total eclipse of the sun. It was an event they'll remember for a lifetime.

  • Case Study: The ROI of Reliable DFT Valves

    (This article provide courtesy of DFT)

    In order to efficiently and reliably withstand wear, pressure, and damage, critical system components such as check valves must have excellent durability.

    Unfortunately, quality and durability are often sidelined or overlooked in favor of low upfront costs. While the desire to keep costs low is understandable — everyone has a bottom line to look after — the return on investment (ROI) of quality products drastically outweighs the long-term costs of lesser-quality, low-cost parts.

    Below, we’ll take a look at a case study illustrating this concept.

    Cooling Towers Case Study- DFT Check Valves long-lasting for over 24 years

    Cooling towers are integral components in a variety of industrial and manufacturing processes; electric power generation plants are one of the most common and recognizable applications.

    Serving as heat-rejection devices, cooling towers transfer process-generated heat from a system into the atmosphere. Open- or closed-circuit water systems pick up heat throughout the system; in the tower itself, the lower temperature of the atmosphere cools the water, usually by allowing a degree of evaporation.

    Cooling towers require very complex water — and, occasionally, steam — piping systems.

    One of DFT®’s clients, based in California, has a number of functioning cooling towers. In 1993, this client replaced 24 check valves in the piping system of a cooling tower with axial flow check silent check valves from DFT®.

    In the intervening 24 years, only one of those valves required replacement — in 2017. The remaining 23 DFT® check valves from 1993 remain in good working order, allowing this client significant cost savings.

    The ROI of Investing in Reliable Equipment Upfront

    Plant managers from various industries often believe complex valve products — axial flow silent check valves, for example — are prohibitively expensive based on the initial price tag, without considering the long-term costs involved in valve maintenance and replacement.

    A utility facility recently concluded a 20-year ROI study using DFT® check valves and found significant savings and ROI of quality check valves. The study compared valve costs and associated overhead, including administrative, installation, and shipping costs, for 150# and 300# valve classes. Swing check valves were used for a 10-year period, followed by a 10-year period using DFT® axial flow silent check valves.

    While administrative costs for both types of valves were the same, in this case comparison silent check valves from DFT® had initial higher cost.  However, a significant difference was seen as the the 150# swing check valves were failing at a high rate, required replacement more than four times each year, at a cost of $111,000 over the tested decade; the DFT® silent check valves required replacement only once every three years, at a cost of only $16,600. The 300# swing check valves showed similar results, while the 300# DFT silent check valves never needed replacement over the decade, reducing replacement and maintenance costs to zero.

    Learn More

    The initial prices for these high-quality axial flow silent check valves may seem prohibitive at first, but these complex products have been carefully engineered and manufactured from top-of-the-line materials, ensuring optimal performance and reliability.

    And when maintenance and replacement costs are included in the purchasing decision, it becomes clear that higher-quality check valves are a much more cost-effective option. For the clients discussed above, the use of quality DFT® check valves saved between 85% and 100% of valve-related maintenance costs over time.

    DFT® check valves are made to last, designed for durability and superior sealing. Need to keep your systems leak-free and operational for the long run? Contact the team at Campbell-Sevey today, and we will be in touch to discuss your options.

  • Steam Tip 14: Use Low-Grade Waste Steam to Power Absorption Chillers

    Absorption chillers use heat, instead of mechanical energy, to provide cooling. The mechanical vapor compressor is replaced by a thermal compressor (see figure) that consists of an absorber, a generator, a pump, and a throttling device. The refrigerant vapor from the evaporator is absorbed by a solution mixture in the absorber. This solution is then pumped to the generator where the refrigerant is revaporized using a waste steam heat source. The refrigerant-depleted solution is then returned to the absorber via a throttling device. The two most common refrigerant/absorbent mixtures used in absorption chillers are water/lithium bromide and ammonia/water. 

    Compared to mechanical chillers, absorption chillers have a low coefficient of performance (COP = chiller load/heat input). Nonetheless, they can substantially reduce operating costs because they are energized by low-grade waste heat, while vapor compression chillers must be motor- or engine-driven. 

    Low-pressure, steam-driven absorption chillers are available in capacities ranging from 100 to 1,500 tons. Absorption chillers come in two commercially available designs: single-effect and double-effect. Single-effect machines provide a thermal COP of 0.7 and require about 18 pounds of 15-pounds-per-square-inch-gauge (psig) steam per ton-hour of cooling. Double-effect machines are about 40% more efficient, but require a higher grade of thermal input, using about 10 pounds of 100- to 150-psig steam per ton-hour. 


    In a plant where low-pressure steam is currently being exhausted to the atmosphere, a mechanical chiller with a COP of 4.0 is used 4,000 hours per year (hr/ yr) to produce an average of 300 tons of refrigeration. The cost of electricity at the plant is $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). 

    An absorption unit requiring 5,400 pounds per hour of 15-psig steam could replace the mechanical chiller, providing annual electrical cost savings of: 

    • 300 tons x (12,000 Btu/ton / 4.0) x 4,000 hr/yr
    • x $0.06/kWh / 3,413 Btu
    • = $63,287 in Annual Savings

    This tip is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and originally published by the Industrial Energy Extension Service of Georgia Tech. For suggested actions and resources, click to download the complete US Department of Energy Tip Sheet.

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  • Hot Water Boilers
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