News | November 10, 2009

University Recovers $1.25M In Yearly Steam Billings


ABB Swirl flowmeters improve measurement accuracy, pintpoint leaks, and promote conservation

Warminster, PA - Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) operates its own steam generating plant on its campus in downtown Richmond. This steam plant consists of three identical boilers, each capable of generating 125,000 lbs/hr at 120 to 200 psi. The plant distributes more than 400 million pounds of steam a year to about 60 buildings and departments. VCU bills each user monthly based on the local flowmeter readings.

VCU can calculate total pounds of steam billed in a year by adding up monthly usages of the 60 users. For fiscal 2006/2007, the university found pounds of steam billed ran 16% lower than measured steam delivered.

To improve accuracy of the flowmeters, the university started replacing them with new Swirl flowmeters from ABB Instrumentation, recommended for high accuracy by FCX Performance, Inc.

These flowmeters require straight runs of only three pipe diameters upstream and one downstream -- ideal for old piping systems with short runs. They also offer built-in temperature compensation, permitting conversion of volumetric flow to mass flow rates. Lastly, the ABB Swirl flowmeters have turndown ratios as high as 30 to 1, maintaining higher accuracy at the lower flow rates prevalent during the summer.

By the end of fiscal 2007/2008, the university had replaced its steam plant meters and 40 of the larger campus user meters. A check of total steam billed now showed that lost steam billings had dropped to 5% of steam delivered. More accurate metering translated into a recovery of $1.25M in billings -- to be essentially duplicated in succeeding years.

The ABB Swirl flowmeters also help to pinpoint system leaks and faulty steam traps. They promote energy conservation as departments move to minimize utility costs.

About ABB
ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 107,000 people.

SOURCE: ABB Measurement & Analytics

ABB Measurement & Analytics