Steam network operation stability and reliability is vital for any industrial branch. A combined steam network model comprising a balance and a coupled thermo-hydrodynamic model, including seasonal variations impact and system specificities, is presented. A balance model can readily be used by a refinery’s operators. The thermo-hydrodynamic model identifies system bottlenecks and cold spots and evaluates proposed operation and investment measures including heat loss reduction. A three-pressure levels refinery steam network served for model testing and validation. Balance model results reveal significant misbalance in steam production and consumption, reaching 30.5% in the low-pressure steam system, and heat balance differences in the range of 9.2% to 29.5% on individual pressure levels, attributable both to flow measurement accuracy issues and to heat losses. The thermo-hydrodynamic model results differ from the measured steam parameters by less than 5% (temperature) and by less than 4% (pressure), respectively, with the estimated operational insulation heat conductivity exceeding 0.08 W/m/K. Its comparison with that of 0.03 W/m/K for dry insulation material yields the need for pipelines re-insulation and a partial revamp of the steam network. The model is sufficiently general for any type of industry, pursuing the goal of cleaner and energy-efficient steam transport and consumption.
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