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How Do Steam Separators Work for the Power Generation Industry?


by Saad Malik


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Steam separators are specialized devices designed to remove excess water from steam powered machines used in power generation applications. The lack of a steam separator can cause excess water and moisture to grow in great quantity inside the piston cylinder. The water becomes a non-compressible mass, which causes a great amount of condensation in the cylinder, which leads to engine failure.

There are various problems that occur in an industrial application.

  • The power generation capabilities reduce to a great extent.
  • Many metal parts can suffer from corrosion
  • Steam that is used in the power generation process usually has many impurities, which can damage the system.
  • Specialized power generation plants may have problems with inconsistent readings on gauges and meters.
  • Rapid wear of valves and turbine blades can lead to overall machine and plant failure.

Features of a Steam Separator

With advent of the industrial era, the need for machines that could purify steam for the power generation process grew. Earlier, certain components were used to act as steam moisture separators for a particular application. E.g. classic steam engines used a steel dome, which was placed on top the boiler. Steam travelling from the boiler to the pistons was forced up to the steel dome, where the excess water vapor would be released. The remaining steam would travel back down from the boiler to the pistons to power the engine.

A modern turbine engine requires a different type of geothermal steam separator, though the result is essentially the same. Here, the steam separators usually consist of internal baffles and a steam trap. The objective of it is to ensure that the excess steam water droplets do not travel to the turbines. Condensation within the turbine and on the turbine blades can eventually lead to metal corrosion, which can drastically decrease the turbines lifespan.

Many geothermal steam separators are also created using various types of tubes, valves, rotors, and pumps. Specialized separators use pistons to collect and discharge the solids and water droplets, thus purifying the steam for power generation.


Wet steam passes through a pipeline and enters the steam separator. Excess water droplets can be identified by their weight as they usually move at the bottom of the pipeline. Separation is achieved by creating a volume level within the steam separator that is much higher than the volume of the wet steam.

The result of this is that the overall weight of the wet steam decreases when it enters the steam moisture separator. This helps in separating the heavy water droplets from the useable steam. The droplets strike the internal baffles within the separator and are directed to the steam trap, where they are removed from the system.

This process converts the wet steam into dry steam, which is used for the power generation process.


Power generation plants can benefit immensely from using steam moisture separators in their power production process.

  • It reduces overall maintenance and downtime of the turbine engine.
  • Product quality and plant productivity can be easily maintained.
  • It helps to prevent any major component damage, thus reducing any need for repairs.
  • Enables the proper functioning of components such as valves, gauges, and meters.
  • Separators can be customized using various materials and require minimal maintenance.

Steam separators began as simple designs for steam engines. Today, they have grown to become an integral component in the power generation industry.

Source by Guy K Francfort

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