The Importance of Using Steam Injection Heating in the Chemical Processing Industry

Steam injection heating is a method of direct contact heat transfer that involves injecting steam into a lower temperature liquid. Steam condenses and is immediately absorbed into the surrounding liquid flow, resulting in a rapid and efficient heat transfer. Steam injection heating has many advantages and applications in the chemical processing industry, where maintaining stable and precise temperature control is critical for product quality, production efficiency and operation costs.

Advantages of Steam Injection Heating

Steam injection heating offers several benefits over indirect heating, such as heat exchangers or steam coils. Some of these benefits are:


  • Higher heat transfer efficiency: Because steam is injected directly into the water, direct steam injection systems can be up to 28% more energy efficient than indirect systems.  With direct steam injection, all the Btu’s in the steam are used to heat the water.  Steam coils or heat exchangers are about 72-75% efficient at best, since only the latent energy in the steam can be used to heat the water.  With direct steam injection, 100% of the steam energy is transferred.
  • Eliminates return condensate costs:  Since all the steam is absorbed in the process, there is no condensate that needs to be trapped for condensate return.  This eliminates the front-end costs of installing condensate pumps, traps, and associated piping as well as the ongoing maintenance of inefficient traps.     
  • Faster heating and better temperature control: Direct steam injection heats the water and satisfies the setpoint temperature instantly. With DSI Heaters, you can boost your productivity and flexibility by rapidly heating your process fluids. Whether you need to heat water, slurries, or any other liquid, Pick Heaters can deliver precise temperature control and instant response. 
  • Lower operation and maintenance costs: Steam injection heating can reduce capital and operating costs. Equipment size is smaller, more compact carrying lower initial cost than that of indirect-heat exchangers since less material is required. Maintenance costs are also reduced with the DSI design, eliminating the cumbersome work involved with cleaning and reassembling tube bundles or plate-packs. 

Applications of Steam Injection Heating

Steam injection heating can be used for various applications in the chemical processing industry, where stable and accurate temperature control is essential for chemical reactions, product quality and safety. Some of these applications are:


  • Jacketed reactor heating: Steam injection heating can be used to heat the jacket hot water loop. This provides uniform temperature control of the reactor, which equates to improved product quality, increased production efficiency and reduced operation costs. Response to product exothermic reactions and be responded with a seamless transition to cooling.  
  • Tank heating: Steam injection heating can be used to heat the tank contents by heating as the batch is filled. This provides fast heating of the tank contents and quicker start-up.   
  • Tank or railcar cleaning: For efficient cleaning of vessels, direct steam injection heats water upon demand in the required flow rates.  The tight temperature control that it provides is critical in cleaning or CIP processes.      
  • Boiler feedwater heating: Steam injection can be used to preheat the boiler feedwater and improve efficiency. It also reduces thermal shock and stress on the boiler components caused by underheated feedwater entering the boiler.




Steam Injection Heater

The chemical processing industry demands reliable water heating equipment offering precise temperature control. Direct steam injection heaters satisfy both requirements. Pick’s proven, robust design provides continuous service with minimal maintenance. Discharge temperature is held to extremely close tolerance – within 1°C or less – while providing rapid yet controlled response to changing process conditions.  Steam injection heaters provide 100% heat transfer efficiency – eliminating flash and heat losses inherent with indirect exchangers.  


Learn more about the advantages of Pick Steam Injection or contact us.