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Test Your Knowledge: Latent Heat vs. Sensible Heat

Steam contains two types of energy: latent and sensible. When steam is supplied to a process application such as a heat exchanger or coil, the steam vapor releases the latent energy to the fluid and then turns into condensate. 

What percentage of the sensible energy is retained in the condensate? 

  1. 4%
  2. 8%
  3. 16%
  4. 21%


The condensate can have as much as 16% of the total energy in the steam vapor, depending on the pressure.

One of highest return on investments is to return condensate to the boiler. As fuel costs rise, focusing on recovering condensate in every industrial steam operation. Advantages include:

  • Hotter boiler feed water temperatures
  • Minimizes the amount of chemicals required to treat boiler feed water
  • Eliminates environmental concerns
  • Minimizes water usage which is critical in some areas
  • Condensate is a tangible item which can be measured in the form of a savings analysis
  • Effective return can lower overall costs which can impact profitability

If condensate isn’t effectively returned to the boiler, the steam system must make up the loss with cold, untreated water that requires using energy to prepare it for boiler operation. This energy usage adds more cost to the operation.

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