Steam systems in industry: Energy use and energy efficiency improvement potentials

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Date Published




Steam systems are a part of almost every major industrial process today. Thirty-seven percent of the fossil fuel burned in US industry is burned to produce steam. In this paper we will establish baseline energy consumption for steam systems. Based on a detailed analysis of boiler energy use we estimate current energy use in boilers in U.S. industry at 6.1 Quads (6.4 EJ), emitting almost 66 MtC in CO2 emissions. We will discuss fuels used and boiler size distribution. We also describe potential savings measures, and estimate the economic energy savings potential in U.S. industry (i.e. having payback period of 3 years or less). We estimate the nationwide economic potential, based on the evaluation of 16 individual measures in steam generation and distribution. The analysis excludes the efficient use of steam and increased heat recovery. Based on the analysis we estimate the economic potential at 18-20% of total boiler energy use, resulting in energy savings approximately 1120-1190 TBtu (1180-1260 PJ). This results in a reduction of CO2 emissions equivalent to 12-13 MtC.


ACEEE's 2001 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry Proceedings



Year of Publication