Innovative Flash Steam System From TLV Provides Payback in Just Seven Months

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A flash steam recovery system designed by TLV Euro Engineering for Watford Launderers and Cleaners has saved the laundry specialist hundreds of tonnes of steam since installation and achieved payback in just seven months.

TLV's flash steam system

TLV redesigned the existing live steam system to incorporate flash steam

Once the drying facilities are operating, flash steam accounts for 93% of the supply to the batch washer with live steam accounting for only 7%

A flash steam recovery system designed by TLV Euro Engineering for Watford Launderers and Cleaners has saved the laundry specialist hundreds of tonnes of steam since installation and achieved payback in just seven months.

No surprise then that the flash steam system also achieved third place in the Combustion Engineering Association’s 2011 Lord Ezra Award, which recognises individuals, groups or companies that have benefitted the combustion engineering industry, with new and innovative ideas.

Processing 400,000 pieces per week for London’s demanding 4 and 5 star hotels and establishing a loyal customer base by maintaining the highest standards, Watford Launderers & Cleaners invested heavily in upgrading its linen handling and washing facilities with a new state-of-the-art laundry batch washer and five steam-heated tumble dryers. (Watford LC) called on TLV’s expertise to liaise with the laundry equipment manufacturers to redesign the batch washers existing live steam supply to incorporate a flash steam system that would not only cope with an 870 tonnes annual demand, but also offer significant cost reduction.

During the planning stage it became clear to TLV engineers that the integration of the new processing line could require major alterations to facilitate efficient condensate return from the five tumble dryers back to the existing condensate collection and flash vessel system. It could also prove extremely problematic because, even though the condensate could return more directly, the amount of flash steam produced would cause problems in the boiler hotwell.

Following a fundamental review and some additional calculations, TLV proved the benefits and approximate payback period that could be achieved by installing a steam handling system that provides flash steam for the batch washer and a small amount of live steam from the boiler at the beginning of each day.

“The figures speak for themselves,” says TLV Euro Engineering’s regional sales engineer Andy Rout. “Once the drying facilities are operating, flash steam accounts for 93% of the supply to the batch washer with live steam accounting for only 7%. This has meant that payback for the steam system has been delivered in just seven months, and carbon emissions have been dramatically reduced.”

To ensure the system worked smoothly, a meeting of Watford LC’s laundry engineers, TLV Euro Engineering and the laundry equipment manufacturers was arranged in order to discuss the problems associated with a condensate return system and explain the necessity of reusing flash steam. The manufacturers were then able to re-programme the system software to enable the flash steam and live steam systems to operate in parallel. They also developed a programme to measure the operational hours of the live and flash steam systems in an effort to understand the actual savings generated by the TLV design.

Explaining the system in more detail, Andy says that at the beginning of each day (for approximately one hour) the system runs on mostly live steam from the boiler because no flash steam has yet been produced. It is not until all ten pockets of the batch washer have been filled and laundry items transferred to the tumble dryers that the process of raising flash steam begins.

As the tumble dryers come online they create a huge volume of condensate, which is transferred to the boiler hotwell. The flash steam component of this condensate is transferred back to the pockets of the batch washer, which means that less and less live steam is used as the drying process continues. And when all five tumble dryers are operational, the process runs entirely on flash steam.

Recent figures from Watford LC suggest that, with the batch washer using flash steam for over nine hours of a ten hour working day and with the system operating six days per week, fifty two weeks per year, the performance compared to a live steam system has exceeded all expectations.

Summarising for Watford Launderers and Cleaners, laundry engineer Steve Haddow says: “We were very impressed with the assistance provided by TLV Euro Engineering at every stage of the process. The system has delivered exactly what its engineers promised and, as such, we would have no hesitation in recommending TLV as a solutions provider and component manufacturer.”

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