What is Process Steam?

Process steam is produced by heating water to steam under pressure. It is typically used for heat and moisture purposes in a process, comfort heat or a combination of the two. Steam is used in the manufacturing process of just about everything we use on a day to day basis. When water flashes to steam it’s explosive, expanding to 1700 times its original volume. It stores a great deal of energy in the form of latent heat which is transferred through various types of end-use equipment. Once the latent heat is ‘spent’ it condenses back to the liquid state called condensate. Steam is successful as a source of heat because it offers:

  • • Constant temperature heat delivery
  • • Effective temperature control through regulation of steam pressure
  • • Large heat content per unit mass

Blake Equipment has almost 90 years of experience supplying and servicing energy efficient, reliable, eco-friendly process steam solutions in every industry throughout the Northeast. Blake Equipment is a distributor of Cleaver-Brooks, a complete, integrated boiler room solutions provider that helps businesses run better every day. Cleaver-Brooks develops hot water and steam generation products aimed at integrating and optimizing the total boiler/burner/control/stack exhaust system to maximize energy efficiency and reliability while minimizing emissions.

Here are a few of the industries in which Blake Equipment has experience:

Alternative Fuels Food and Beverage Pharmaceutical
Automotive Greenhouses Plastics
Ceramics and Glass Hospitals Prisons
Chemicals Metal-working Tobacco
Cosmetics Microprocessors Rubber
Dairy Oil and Gas Universities
Distilleries Paper Waste Water

Download Boiler Room Guide from Cleaver-Brooks

Cleaver-Brooks White Paper “Properly Treat Boiler Water for Efficient, Long-Term Operation”

How Does Process Steam Work?

A process steam system is comprised of 4 functions in continuous loop:

Generation End use
Distribution Recovery

How a Process Steam System Works

Source:DOE Improving Steam System Performance: A Sourcebook for Industry 2nd Edition


Steam is normally generated in a boiler or waste heat recovery device by transferring heat from hot combustion gases or other hot process streams to water which is heated to steam. The water is specially treated to protect the boiler, pipes and equipment in the steam system from scaling and corrosion. The steam is transferred under pressure from the boiler to the distribution system. In general, two types of boilers are used to generate steam.

Firetube boilers

Combustion gases pass through tubes, water flows over the tubes picking up heat. This type of boiler has a low initial cost, is very efficient and durable. Firetubes produce lower pressure steam production temperatures, generally not exceeding 300 psig, due to the steam being contained in the shell.

Shown at the right is one the many models of Cleaver-Brooks firetube boiler.

Watertube boilers

Water passes through tubes while hot gases circulate over the outside of the tubes, transferring heat. Because the steam is contained in the tubes, for higher pressure steam production, up to 3000 psig is possible. Watertube boilers are ideal for applications that require saturated or superheated steam, especially applications requiring dry, high pressure, high heat energy steam.

Shown at the right is one of the many models of Cleaver-Brooks Watertube boilers.


The distribution system carries the pressurized steam from the boilers and deliver sufficient quantities of steam at a specified temperature and pressure to end-use equipment. Systems often have numerous take-off lines that operate at different steam pressures. Pressure is controlled by using isolation valves, pressure regulating valves and even turbines to separate take-off lines of various pressures from the original headers.

An efficient system requires proper pressure balance and regulation, good condensate drainage, proper insulation and a sound preventative maintenance. [Steam Source DOE].

The picture at the right represents how steam is distributed in sufficient quantities at a specified temperature and pressure to end-use equipment.

End Use

End-use equipment transfers steam energy into other useful forms of energy that can then be used further in process applications.


Once steam releases its latent heat, it returns to water, typically between 200 and 212 F, which is called condensate. The recovery components of a steam system collect and return the condensate back to the generation part of the system. Condensate recovery provides thermal and water treatment benefits. Condensate that is not returned must be compensated for by adding make-up water, usually from the main water supply, which is usually much cooler than condensate. It’s expensive to treat and bring the heat up in make up water to levels of the returned condensate. Water treatment is critical to protect the system from corrosion and scaling. The energy required to raise the temperature of makeup water to 212 can be very expensive.

Why Partner with Blake Equipment

No two Process Steam projects are the same. Each one is an engineered solution designed to meet the customers’ specified needs. These complex projects demand careful selection of equipment during the build phase. The system, once installed, requires maintenance as prescribed by the manufacturer to run at peak performance and ensure a long lifetime of service.

Since 1927, Blake has supplied equipment and services for Process Steam Heating Systems. We specialize in Thermal Energy and Water, delivering solutions for hot water and steam, heat recovery, exhaust and emissions control, water treatment, pumping, waste water, valves and more. We are a manufacturers’ representative of the most respected brands in the industry, including Cleaver-Brooks. Blake works closely with End Users, their engineering firms and contractors to supply the greenest, most efficient, reliable and cost effective solutions in the market. We start-up the equipment, provide factory authorized service and OEM parts over the lifetime of the system. Our engineers come from a variety of backgrounds bringing decades of expertise to heating, process, power generation, pumping, valve, control and renewable applications.

Blake Equipment is a specialty distributor and manufacturers’ representative offering solutions that allow sustained use of water and thermal energy resources. We serve our partners who design, build, maintain and manage these systems; providing innovation through technology and best in class products and services...for a better world.