Texas Brewery Toasts Spirax Sarco, Inc. Expertise


As companies step up to the challenge of protecting and maintaining the environmental resources of our planet, many are finding a bonus to answering this call with the discovery of greater process efficiencies and ultimate bottom-line savings. Such was the case for a new joint-venture Texas brewery with more than 200 years of heritage and experience.

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This Round’s On SSI

With an eye firmly fixed on responsible environmental citizenship, the brewery realized that its steam-driven processes needed review and assessment. Energy costs were climbing, condensate often backed up into heat exchangers and some process heating times were becoming excessive. The hope was that greater efficiencies could be discovered and instituted to better meet the environmental goals of the company while increasing productivity.

Concentrating on the brew house for the initial assessment, reps from Spirax Sarco and its local distributor, The EADS Company, conducted a steam trap survey and an audit of the steam systems, looking for potential energy savings opportunities and ways to improve steam system performance.

Solutions On Tap

From the survey and audit reports, the brew house focused on the following issues:
• Opportunity: Twenty of the 126 steam traps in the brew house had failed and were contributing to related process headaches, reducing efficiencies and costing the plant an estimated $167,810 a year in energy losses.
• SSI Solution: As budget and downtime become available, the failed steam traps are being replaced to increase efficiency, improve steam quality, save money and reduce energy losses and CO2 emissions.

• Opportunity: During low load conditions on the mash mixers, the steam jackets went into vacuum and trapped condensate. Unfortunately the trapped condensate made the heating process less efficient, caused water hammer and, over time, was degrading the jacket material.
• SSI Solution: Installing a vacuum breaker allows air into the system and keeps the process at atmospheric pressure, which enables the condensate to drain out of the vessel. An air vent removes the air during heating to increase efficiency. SSI also recommends a compound pressure gauge to assist in trouble-shooting any future issues at the mash mixers.

• Opportunity: Downstream of a modulating steam control valve in the Propagator CIP System, condensate was backing up in the heat exchanger, particularly at medium to low loads due to excessive lift after the application. The trapped condensate caused process temperature fluctuations, water hammer and corrosion. The operator had to drain the condensate to the ground to keep the system working.
• SSI Solution: A pressure-powered Automatic Pumping Trap (APT) uses steam pressure to overcome excessive lift at low load conditions and eliminates stalling from the system. The system provides better heating of the cleaning solution, increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption.

• Opportunity: The bucket trap installed on the charcoal filter steam cleaning system constantly plugged with dirt, requiring excessive maintenance, cleaning and downtime.
• SSI Solution: A larger orifice Float & Thermostatic (F&T) trap removes the condensate quickly along with the dirt, reducing maintenance and downtime.

• Opportunity: The existing inverted bucket traps were not properly removing the fluctuating condensate loads throughout the brewery heating processes.
• SSI Solution: Replacing many of the bucket traps with Spirax Sarco’s F&T traps brings optimized heating control and condensate removal to the modulating steam control valve systems.

    Once these issues are completed, the brew house maintenance team will focus on the second tier of projects as time and budget permit.

    Brewing Responsibly

    "These upgrades have provided energy savings, increased product quality, and made our steam system more reliable," reports a brewery manager.

    Brewery officials were so impressed with the energy savings and processing efficiencies these audits uncovered that they commissioned SSI and The EADS Company to conduct steam trap surveys and soft audits for the rest of the plant, including utilities and packaging. Following completion, action plans for recommended improvements were implemented.

    Eager to embrace environmental responsibility, the new joint-venture company’s sustainability priorities include:

    “We’ve set worthy goals. We’re investing in alternative energy. We’re continually replacing and upgrading equipment and systems to improve energy efficiency. Our emissions meet or beat federal standards. And we’re urging our work teams and our people to change the ways they work and live, so that we’re all contributing.”

    A new company…ready for change…found barrels of opportunity to improve their processes and their environmental impact with the steam system expertise they found at Spirax Sarco.

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