Wiznet 360 EVB Mini Steam Trap Monitoring

With today's energy needs across the globe, industrial steam trap health has never been more important. This project provides a stream trap monitoring system under $100 that will save THOUSANDS per year and lower Carbon Emissions!

-Sean J. Miller 7/23/2022

INTRODUCTION

Even in today's modern world of electric tracing, steam tracing is still the dominant way to keep pipes and vessels from freezing in industry.  Without them, various chemicals like good ole' high quality H2O to Benzene and Caustic all will freeze even in mild climates in the winter.  As you know, freezing water expands.  It will split boulders.  No doubt, it will split pipes resulting in production downtime for repairs and could result in catastrophic employee and community incidents.  However, the most common issue with poor steam trap monitoring is the waste of energy.

If a steam trap is not properly accumulating and cycling a discharge of condensate, then it takes a lot more steam to keep what it is servicing heated.  Steam that just blows through a trap, versus releasing its latent heat, requires a lot more volume of steam delivered to keep equipment up to temp.  This means more steam generation that requires more fuel gas combustion.  This is doing nothing but wasting energy and fuel while creating combustion byproducts for a higher carbon footprint of the operation.

For the last 50 years, industry has had only a couple of strategies to ensure that steam traps stay functional - each have their setbacks:

  • Operator Rounds - this is where an operator periodically opens the steam trap bank door and manually compares the temperature on either side of the trap or places an ultra sound probe on it.
  • Thermocouples and transmitters - this design calls for pulling multiple cables through cable tray throughout the facility and landing them into the trap bank cabinet.  It is very capital intensive.

Let's face it - we don't raise our kids to do mundane tasks anymore.  Operator Rounds that are brain dead tend to get skipped or pencil whipped.  There is just too big of an opportunity for the steam system to get ignored since a failed trap isn't an obvious and immediate problem considering what else is going on in the facility.

Reference:Avoid Waste and Deterioration with the SDT270 Ultrasound Solution - News - Maintworld

Thermocouples and transmitters are great.  However, you have to be a Fortune 500 company with plenty of investors to fund the installation.  The smalltime farmer or microbrewery will barely see a return on the investment for years.

Reference:  Pervasive Sensing Solutions | Emerson CA

 

So that brings us to our uber inexpensive approach with our project:

WiFi Steam Trap Monitoring with the Wiznet 360 EVB Mini Module

PROJECT DESIGN

We will go green and save a lot of green on this major industrial energy saving project.  Here are the main components:

Using the same approach as the big industrial companies, we will just pipe clamp a temperature sensor on each side of the steam trap.  These are the conditions we are monitoring:

  • Higher temp on inlet - all is good.
  • Same temp on inlet and outlet - stuck in the open or closed position
  • Colder inlet than outlet - when in a trap back, this would mean it is stuck closed as condensate has backed up the inlet line

Now, our device will simply take the temperature and then use WiFi to send a "GET" request to the server.  The server can be AWS, Microsoft Azure, or other big boy - or simply a web server we have running anywhere we want on a local PC.  That's what we will do with a Linux .Net 6 app.

CIRCUIT

<design is underway>

DEVICE CODE

<design is underway>

WEB APP CODE

<design is underway>

SUMMARY

So, there you have it.  A very inexpensive approach to saving a lot of money.  To expand the system simply takes an additional circuit to allow polling through each sensor.  The solar panel will allow the device to be placed anywhere in the facility with the smallest cable run you could ever need to make.  Of course, if there is a power outlet or 24V source like in most industrial environments, you could just pull that single cable as well - but that wouldn't be green now, would it.  :-)

Feel free to ask any questions in the box below.

See ya',

Sean

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