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Wade Industrial Steam Specialists

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An actuator is a mechanical device for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. On a steam line actuators are needed to operate control valves. The actuator accurately locates the valve plug in a position dictated by the control signal, and is used to move the valve to a fully-open or fully-closed position, or a more open or a more closed position (depending on whether 'on / off' or 'continuous' control action is used).

Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust. For industrial steam purposes, aluminium is remarkable for the metal's low density and for its ability to resist corrosion due to the phenomenon of passivation.

Air Vent,
Air vents are vital in steam systems, as they remove of air and non-condensable gases. After a shut down the steam system cools, and steam within the system condenses. This will create a vacuum which will cause air to be drawn into the system. When the system is brought back on-line, all of the contained air must be expelled before steam can refill and reheat the equipment. Air vents are designed with temperature sensitive devices and vent valves that open and close thermostatically. Air, being cool relative to steam, will open the valve and exit through the air vent, allowing steam to fill the system. Steam reaching the air vent will heat the device and cause the vent to close accordingly.

American National Standards Institute provides a standardised pipe fitting and schedule classification.
See also ISO

The work of applying steam to heat another medium for a specific purpose. Usually industrial, the main uses for steam are generally for heating, drying, humidification, and mechanical applications.


The baffle is an integral part of a tubular heat exchanger. It provides support for the tubular bundles and helps guide the flow of heated product for maximum efficiency.

A bend is a pipe fitting much like an elbow, but with a longer radius.

Boiler blowdown is the removal of water from a boiler in order to control boiler scale, corrosion, carryover, and other specific problems. Blowdown is also used to remove suspended solids present, caused by feedwater contamination, by internal chemical treatment precipitates, or by exceeding the solubility limits of otherwise soluble salts. As water from the boiler is removed via the blowndown, it is replaced with water from the feedwater tank.

An apparatus that generates heat (usually by burning fuel) and uses it to heat circulating water (or sometimes another liquid) in a closed system that is then used for heating, creating steam, other or industrial processes.
See also Water Heater

The British Standard Pipe thread (BSP thread) is a family of standard screw thread types that has been adopted internationally for interconnecting and sealing pipe ends. BSP mates an external (male) thread with an internal (female) thread on pipe fittings. BSP threads can be distinguished as either Parallel (denoted by the letter G) or Tapered (denoted by the letter R).
See also NPT


A calorifier/storage calorifier is a large cylindrical hot water heater. The calorifier heats fluids by circulating them over heating coils, and is necessary for in-demand hot water needs for feeding a boiler. May be storage or non-storage calorifier.
See also Water Heater

A cap is a type of fitting, often liquid or gas tight, which covers the end of a pipe. A cap has a similar function to a plug. In steam systems that use threads the cap has female threads.
See also Pipe Fittings

Cast Iron,
Cast iron is a usefull and widely used engineering material, as it has a low melting point, good fluidity, castability, excellent machinability, resistance to deformation and wear resistance, as well as being resistant to destruction and weakening by oxidisation (rust).

Coil Heat Exchanger,
Heating coils are typically modified pipe with cross-flow, or looping arrangements, and are usually made from Finned-Tube. Also know as Tubulare heat exchangers.

The liquid phase produced by the exchange of heat from the steam to the product being heated. The condensate is then recovered and returned to the Hot Water system. Problems with Condensate Recovery can cause a drop in efficiency in the Heat Exchanger.

Condensate Recovery,
Condensate recovery is the process of capturing, drainage, and resupply of the surplus condensate water that occurs after heat exchange. Typically the recovered condensate gets pumped into the feed water tank. Retaining this water not only save costs on input water, but minimizes loss due to cooling of the heat exchange device.
See also Reticulation and Flashing

The process of changing from a gaseous to a liquid, usually due to a drop in temperature or pressure.

A condenser is a water-cooled shell and tube heat exchanger installed on the exhaust steam system, which converts steam from its gaseous form to a liquid state at a pressure below atmospheric pressure.


Control Valve,
Control valves are used to control flow, pressure, temperature, and liquid level by fully or partially opening or closing in response to signals received from controllers. The opening or closing of control valves is done by means of electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic systems.
See also Actuator

Convection Heating,
The transfer of heat through a fluid (liquid or gas) caused by molecular motion.
See also Radiation Heating

Chemically induced corrosion in the boiler can be caused by the deposition of dissimilar metals, or by the overfeed of chelants and phosponates.
See also Erosion

A coupling connects two pipes to each other. If the material and size of the pipe are not the same, the fitting may be called a 'reducing coupling' or reducer, or an adapter. A coupling is similar to a union.
See also Pipe Fittings and Quick Couplings


Deaeration is the process of removing air and gases from the boiler feedwater prior to its introduction to the boiler. High temperatures in the deaeration tower tank reduces the waters ability to retain oxygen and other dissolved gases. The oxygen is hence forced out the water through air vents. Deaeration is necessary in order to remove oxygen and carbon dioxide, ensuring improved heat transfer, continuous system operation, and for overall energy savings.
See also Water Treatment

Direct Heating,
The process of heating where the heat-source comes into direct contact with the item being heated. Conventional ovens and steam cookers are examples of direct heat transfer.
See also Indirect Heating

The steam distribution system, in a nutshell, the pipeline.
See Piping

Steam used to create heat can be channeled through heat exchange coils for the purpose of drying. Industries which use dryers may include timber mills, dried fruit and food manufacturers, tobacco producers, etc.


The efficiency of steam and the heat exchanger are critial as they will affect the annual fuel bill, and the product output volume from the steam system. Regular maintenance and careful design considerations are the start to ensuring an efficient steam plant.

Water discharged from an industrial facility, the output of the cooling system, usually noticeably warmer than the environment and still carrying potential energy from the boiler. Effluent recovery can result in considerable savings over a period of time, not only in terms of water treatment, but also by reducing the amount of energy needed to reheat the water.

A pipe fitting installed between two lengths of pipe or tube allowing a change of direction, usually 90° or 45°. The ends may be machined for butt welding, threaded (usually female), or socketed, etc. When the two ends differ in size, it is called a reducing or reducer elbow. Most elbows are available in short radius or long radius of types. The short radius elbows have a center to end distance equal to the NPS in inches, while the long radius is 1.5 times the NPS in inches. Short elbows are universally available; long elbows are readily available in ABS plastic, PVC, CPVC and copper.
See also Pipe Fittings

Electric Water Heating,
Electric water heating is often done by an immersion heater fitted near the bottom of the hot water tank. The immersion heater is a metal tube containing an insulated electric resistance heater.

In thermodynamics, a measure of the heat content of a chemical or physical system.
H = E + PV

Entropy is a thermodynamic quantity that represents the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for mechanical output.

The mechanical process of wearing or grinding objects away as particles of water wash over it. This can be costly, and can be prevented or minimized with the use of a speparator and regular, thorough plant maintenance.
See also Corrosion

See Heat Exchanger

Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change in volume in response to a change in temperature. The degree of expansion divided by the change in temperature is called the material's coefficient of thermal expansion and generally varies with temperature and thermal efficiency of the material.
See Expansion Vessel


Feedwater maintains water levels in the boiler. Feedwater consists of varying proportion of recovered condensed water (return water) and fresh water, which has been purified in varying degrees (make up water). The make-up water is usually natural water either in its raw state, or treated by some process before use. Feed-water composition therefore depends on the quality of the make-up water and the amount of condensate returned to the boiler.
See also Raw Water

See Strainer

Specially shaped fins used in array along the length of a Heat Exchanger or tube, useful in the distribution of heat from the surface of the exchange device. Fins may be welded on, or extruded with the tube.
See also Finned-Tube

Pipe or tube with longitudinal fins equally spaced in array along it's length, usually used for thermal heat processes or Heat Exchange.
See also Fins

Flanges are available in round, square, and rectangular, but are typically ring shaped, and form a rim at the end of a pipe. Flanges are used for variety of purposes, but the main purpose is to connect pipes and other equipment, such as a tee, valve, pump, etc. A blind flange can be a plate for covering or closing the end of a pipe. Flanges can also be placed on beams to provide additional strength.
See also Flange Tables

Flange Tables,
Flanges tables are a universal reference which detail the outside and inside diameter sizes and bolt hole drilling pattens for various standard plate flanges.
Dowload the FREE Wade Industrial Flange Tables

Flash Vessel,
In the flash vessel the steam is separated from the water, and then fed into a lowpressure steam system. The condensate remaining in the flash vessel is discharged into a condensate tank.

Also known as flash steam, flashing is the spontaneous conversion of water into steam that can occur in the condensate recovery system. Flash steam can be harnessed and re-introduced to conserve energy.
See also Flash Vessel

Flowmeters, or flow indicators, are used to accurately measure how much steam is being processed, so you know exactly how your input/output reflects on your costs.

Fouling is when a fluid goes through the Heat Exchanger, and the impurities in the fluid precipitate onto the surface of the tubes, which can cause scale. This precipitation reduces the surface area for heat to be transferred and causes an increase in the resistance to heat transfer across the heat exchanger. Fouling can be prevented with proper water purification.
See also Maintenance


Galvanised (U.S. Galvanized) steel is widely used in steam applications. Galvanisation is the chemical process to keep it from corroding. The steel gets alloyed in layers of zinc, as zinc is a protective metal that will not rust. The zinc does not form a seal around the metal, by through a chemical reaction becomes permanently a part of the material being galvanised.
See also Stainless Steel

Gas, Gaseous,
The state of matter distinguished from the solid and liquid states by: relatively low density and viscosity; relatively great expansion and contraction with changes in pressure and temperature; the ability to diffuse readily; and the spontaneous tendency to become distributed uniformly throughout any container.


Heating Coil,
See Coil Heat Exchanger

Heat Exchanger,
Essentially, any device that transfers heat from one medium to another. For industrial processes, the type and size of heat exchanger can be customized to suit a process depending on the type of fluid, its phase, temperature, density, viscosity, pressures, chemical composition and various other thermodynamic properties.
Types of heat exchangers include Coil heat exchangers, Plate heat exchangers, and jacketed Kettle exchangers.
See Direct Heating and Indirect Heating

A hose is a hollow tube designed to distribute fluids and steam. Hoses are usually flexible and cylindrical. Hose design is based on a combination of application and performance. Common factors are size, pressure rating, weight, length, straight hose or coilhose and chemical compatabiltiy. Hoses are made from one or a combination of many different materials. Applications mostly use nylon, polyurethane, polyethylene, PVC, or synthetic or natural rubbers, based on the environment and pressure rating needed. Other hose materials include PTFE (Teflon), stainless steel and other metals.
See also Pipe

Hot Water,
In an industrial steam application, the hot water system includes the condensate returned from the heat exchange, which returns to the boiler to be returned into steam.

The process of increasing the water vapour content of a gas. A humidifier is a device for dispersing water vapor into the air for the purpose of raising the humidity in a given space.


Sinking something until completely covered with water.
See also Electric Water Heating

Indirect Heating,
Indirect heating typically involves a heat exchanger, in which steam passes across the surface area of the heat exchanger, and the heat is transferred to the substance being heated. The steam never comes into direct contact with the product being heated, and usually some Condensation occurs during the Heat Transfer.
Liquid mediums including water and oil can also be used, however indirect heating with steam proves to be more efficient than using water or oil, as it provides even, rapid heating.
See also Direct Heating

Flow indicator.
See Flowmeter

The International Organization for Standardization, widely known as ISO (pronounced EYE-soe), is an international-standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations.
See also ANSI

Adequate thermal insulation is essential to prevent unnecessary heat losses from pipes, heating equipment and other devices along the steam system. Proper thermal insulation results in energy saving.


See Kettle Heat Exchanger


Kettle Heat Exchanger,
Steam circulating within a jacket transfers heat through the wall of the vessel.


Lagging insulation is usually a fiberglass or other rugged sleeving fabric with a built in adhesive. It is used as a thermal protection on steam pipes and in other high heat environments. Pipe lagging is usually protected from physical damage by cylindrical steel muffs.
See also Insulation

The state in which a substance exhibits a characteristic readiness to flow with little or no tendency to disperse and relatively high incompressibility.
See also Gas


Maintenance in a steam system is critical to continued performance of the plant.
For maintenance, plate heat exchangers need to be dissembled and cleaned periodically. Tubular heat exchangers can be cleaned by such methods as acid cleaning, sandblasting, high-pressure water jet, bullet cleaning, or drill rods. In large-scale cooling water systems for heat exchangers, water treatment such as purification, addition of chemicals, and testing, is used to minimize fouling of the heat exchange equipment. Other water treatment is also used in steam systems for power plants, etc. to minimize fouling and corrosion of the heat exchange and other equipment.

See Steam Trap Management

Cylindrical steel sleeves used for the physical protection of lagging insulation around steam pipelines.


A pipe nipple is a length of straight pipe with male threads on both ends. It is a connector, or a coupling, threaded on both ends. Nipples are used to allow pipes and fittings to be inter-connected, and are used to fit straight end hose or pipe. Types of pipe nipples include Barrel, Weld, Swage, and Hexagon nipples.
See also Pipe Fittings

National Pipe Thread Tapered Thread (NPT) is a U.S. standard for tapered threads used to join pipes and fittings. The taper on NPT threads allows them to form a seal when torqued as the flanks of the threads compress against each other, as opposed to parallel/straight thread fittings or compression fittings in which the threads merely hold the pieces together. NPT fittings must however be made leak free with the aid of thread seal tape or a thread sealant compound.



Dissolved oxygen and high temperatures together form a highly corrosive element for the materials and equipment used in steam systems. In order to prevent corrosion, oxygen in the make-up water must be removed through the use of scavenger chemicals and/or deaeration towers.


Passivation is the process of making a material reistant to corrosion, which is useful in severe steam conditions. Passivation is the spontaneous formation of a hard non-reactive surface film that prevents and inhibits further corrosion. This layer is usually an oxide or nitride that is a few molecules thick. Passivation is seen in materials such as aluminium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, stainless steel, titanium, and silicon.

PCD (Pitch Circle Diameter) is the diameter of the circle which passes through the centre of all the bolts, or drilling pattern holes on a valve, flange, or other pipe fitting.

Also known as the distribution system. Pipes are round tubular section or hollow cylinder vesels that carry the gas or liquid product throughout the plant. It can also be used for structural applications. In layman's terms the appellations pipe and tube are almost interchangeable, but in industry and engineering discipline the terms are uniquely defined. Depending on the applicable standard to which it is manufactured, pipe is specified by the internal diameter (ID) and a wall thickness, a nominal diameter and a wall thickness, or an outside diameter (OD) and a wall thickness. Tube is most often defined by the outside diameter (OD) and a wall thickness but may be specified by any combination of dimensions (OD, ID, wall thickness). Pipes can be Galvanised, Black, PVC, Steam, Stainless Welded and Seamless Steel Pipes. Can be interconnected using flanges.

Pipe Fittings,
Various pipe accessories for coupling pipes and equipment. Fittings include bends, caps, couplings, elbows, flanges, nipples, reducers, tees etc.

Plate Heat Exchanger,

A plug closes off the end of a pipe. It is similar to a cap but it fits inside the fitting it is mated to. In a threaded iron pipe steam system, plugs have male threads.

When steam is generated under ordinary conditions it is termed "steam of one atmosphere" (15 lbs. per square inch). One cu. in. of water will produce approximately 1 cu. ft. of steam (1728 cu. in.). If the pressure is increased the volume is diminished; i.e., the pressure varies inversely as the volume. Thus with a pressure of 30 lbs. the volume is only one-half of what it would be under normal pressure. One cu. in. of water produces 864 cu. in. of steam under 30 lbs. pressure.

PTFE, Polytetrafluoroethylene, is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene which finds numerous applications. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid. Because of its chemical inertness, PTFE cannot be cross-linked like an elastomer. Therefore it has no "memory" and is subject to creep. This is advantageous when used as a seal, because the material creeps a small amount to conform to the mating surface. It is widely used as a thread seal tape in plumbing applications, largely replacing paste thread dope.

Water purification is important for continued efficiency and for protecting your valuable equipment. Deposits can accumulate in a very short time when steam purity is poor. These deposits, often rough or uneven at the surface, increase resistance to the flow of steam. Distortion of steam passages alters steam velocities and pressure drops, reducing the capacity and efficiency of the steam system. Evaporation in a boiler can cause impurities to concentrate, which hinders heat transfer and may cause hot spots.
See also Maintenance

PVC, Polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic polymer, used to make flexible hoses and tubing, and accessories. PVC's intrinsic properties make it suitable for a wide variety of applications, including steam. It is biologically and chemically resistant, making it the plastic of choice for most industrial pipes and other pipe applications where corrosion would limit the use of metal.


Quick Coupling,
Quick couplers are used to quickly connect lines without losing steam, fluid or pressure. All couplings consist of two mating halves: the plug (male) half and the coupler (female) half. Quick couplers can be used under a variety of pressure and temperature conditions. Quick-action couplers are ideal for use in applications where steam/fluid loss during connection or disconnection is undesirable. Typical applications include systems where tools or other devices are routinely connected and disconnected to a central pressure supply.
See also Pipe Fittings


Radiation Heating,
Heat energy that is radiated or transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles. See also Convection Heating

Raw Water,
Raw water comprises the input source of water for your steam system. Raw water, whether from surface, ground, municipal, ocean or other, requires treatment before the it can be utilised. Water treatment systems can include various methods to remove color, suspended and dissolved solids, and other contaminants harmful to steam equipment.
See also Water Treatment

See Condensate Recovery

Concentric and eccentric reducers
See also Pipe Fittings

Literally: An arrangement resembling a net or network. Reticulation in a steam system refers to the consistent and continued distribution and conservation of the hot water and steam, which cycles continuously. This begins with the formation of steam from the water heater, and follows with the successful recovery of condensate created by the heat exchange process.


The destruction of pathogenic and other kinds of microorganisms. See Sterilizing.

Saturated Steam,
Once boiling point is reached, and the pressure remains constant, additional heating will not cause a rise in temperature, yet turns the water into saturated steam. As the temperature in the system remains constant, the energy potential per unit mass is increased in the steam.

Scale is caused by impurities precipitating out of the water on to heat transfer surfaces, or by suspended particles in the water settling on the metal and hardening. See also Purification

A Steam separator, also known as a moisture separator, is a device for separating water droplets from steam. A separator is nececessary as wet steam reduces thermal efficiency, and water droplets in high velocity steam can cause erosion within the system.

Stall is when the operating differential pressure between the inlet and outlet of the steam trap is so disparate that condensate is not discharged from the trap, and instead tends to pool inside the heat exchanger. Stall can cause ruptured equipment, water hammer, and can prevent consistent heating.

Stainless Steel,
Stainless steel is a universal name given to a number of different steels used primarily for their anti-corrosive element. Stainless steel has been developed to be resistant to extremely corrosive environments. Made using chromium, which improves the corrosion resistance by forming a chromium oxide film on the steel. This very thin layer can be self-repairing when placed under the right conditions. Stainless steel is also an earth friendly material, as it can be melted down, recycled, and made into something else.
See also Galvanised

Vaporized water. Water at boiling temperature diffused as a gas in the atmosphere. At standard temperature and pressure, pure steam (unmixed with air, but in equilibrium with liquid water) occupies about 1,600 times the volume of an equal mass of liquid water. For industrial applications, steam is usually used for heating, drying, humidifying, and for mechanical processes. Steam condensation heat transfer proves to be a much more effective and time-saving heating method than does convection heating with oil or other mediums.

Steam Injection,
Steam injection is when a series of steam bubbles is pumped into a cooler liquid. The steam bubbles condense and give up their heat to the surrounding liquid.

Steam Tables,
Steam tables are thermodynamic data tables for water/steam, used by engineers in design maintenance and operation of equipment where thermodynamic cycles involving steam are used.

Steam Trap,
Steam traps are used to discharge condensate and non condensable gases with a negligible loss of live steam from the pipeline. If condensate is not rapidly removed from the system, it has the potential to cool down the working steam and form more condensate, hence loss of energy. Some steam traps are as basic as automatic valves, opening and closing, or modulating automatically.

Steam Trap Management,
Steam trap surveys are neccessary in order to see which traps are operational, and which need servicing. A steam trap survey is a useful way to accurately measure the performance of a steam based system.

The rate, usually expressed in Lbs/Hr or KG/Hr, at which a boiler produces steam.

In microbiology laboratories, and similar environments, an autoclave, which uses steam under pressure, is used for sterilizing.

A pipe strainer is a filter device used to mechanically remove solids from steam and fluids, by means of a perforated or wire mesh straining element. A Steam Strainer is a cost effective way of protecting downstream equipment such as heat exchangers, pumps, compressors, meters, spray nozzles, turbines, steam traps, etc. from possible damages due to debris such as rust, pipe scale, sediment, and/or other solids.

Superheated Steam,
Steam that has been imparted with extra heat whilst heating it from a dry saturated condition. Also the corresponding rise in temperature.

Steam trap survey's are a means of accurately determining how effectively your steam traps are operating.

The most common use of swaging is to attach fittings to steam pipes; the parts loosely fit together, and a mechanical or hydraulic tool compresses and deforms the fitting, creating a permanent joint. Pipe flaring machines are another example. Flared pieces of pipe are sometimes known as "swage nipples," "pipe swages," "swedge nipples," or "reducing nipples."


See Flange Tables

A tee is used to either combine or split a steam or fluid flow. Most common are tees with the same inlet and outlet sizes, but reducing tees are also widely used.
See also Pipe Fittings

Thermal Efficiency,
In thermodynamics, the thermal efficiency (Nth) is a dimensionless performance measure of a device that uses thermal energy, such as an internal combustion engine, a boiler, a furnace, or a refrigerator.

Thermodynamics is the study of energy conversion between heat and mechanical work, and includes various key inter-acting principles such as temperature, volume and pressure.

Thermodynamics is the study of energy conversion between heat and mechanical work, and includes various key inter-acting principles such as temperature, volume and pressure.


See Steam Trap

The terms "pipe" and "tube" are almost interchangeable, although minor distinctions exist — generally, a tube has tighter engineering requirements than a pipe. Both pipe and tube imply a level of rigidity and permanence, whereas a hose is usually portable and flexible
See also Pipe



A union is similar to a coupling, except it is designed to allow quick and convenient disconnection of pipes for maintenance or fixture replacement. While a coupling would require either solvent welding or being able to rotate all the pipes adjacent as with a threaded coupling, a union provides a simple nut transition, allowing easy release at any time. See also Pipe Fittings



Pipe fittings that ensure one-way flow of steam or fluid through a pipe system., used to regulate the flow of steam. Stop valves are used to shut off, or partially shut off the flow of fluid/steam. Stop valves are controlled by the movement of the valve stem. Stop valves can be divided into four general categories: globe, gate, butterfly, and ball valves. Plug valves and needle valves may also be considered stop valves.
See also Pipe Fittings

Vent Valve,
Installed at the opposite end of the supply valve, float and thermostatic vent valves let air escape from the heating unit under pressure, but closes against the passage of steam and condensate.
See also Air Vent

Vessel, Expansion
An expansion vessel or expansion tank is used to protect closed water heating systems from excessive pressure. The tank is partially filled with air, which uses compression to cushion shock caused by water hammer and absorbs excess water pressure caused by thermal expansion.


Water Heater,
An apparatus in which a heat source other than a hot liquid or steam (most commonly burning fuel, exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine or gas turbine, waste heat from a process, solar energy or electricity) is used to boil water (or rarely another liquid), under pressure to provide steam (or other gas) for use as a heat source in calorifiers, heat exchangers or heat emitters, or for use directly for humidification, in an industrial process, or to power steam turbines.

Water Treatment,
Water treatment for feedwater and wastewater for reuse and disposal is essential. Water treatment involves chemical intervention, and treatment benefits include lower operating costs, improved reliability, lower waste and disposal costs, better environmental compliance, and increased process efficiency.
See also Purification




Glossary - Steam Related Termanology

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