The Don Bosco laundry was one of the first sites to install Steam-X, the system that Christeyns has developed for recovering and re-using flash steam.

The laundry is a family concern run by Erwin and Johan Cappaert whose parents founded the business 40 years ago. It specialises in high quality hotel work, processing flatwork, workwear shirts and towels and about 50% of its business is rental. Currently it handles around 22 – 23tons a week and has 20 staff.

It has been on the same site for ten years but is now investing in expansion and building a new plant. Work was expected to start at the end of January, shortly after my visit.

This will have a second tunnel, which has already been bought, and once this is operational, the laundry will rely mainly on tunnels.

The second tunnel will be used for specialised loads of lights and whites. It will handle 36kg batches and has Christeyns’ Sanoxy and Heat-X systems installed.

The expansion would have a target of eventually doubling both Don Bosco’s tonnage and its steam requirement but, as Erwin Cappaert explained, the old boiler was struggling to meet even current production.

Erik Kuiper of EMSRotor, an installation specialist that often handles Christeyns projects, was called in to advise.

Kuiper says he started looking at the installation in 2006 and decided that this would be an ideal application for the Steam-X system as it would be less expensive than replacing the boiler.

Christeyns Steam-X is a low pressure system for recovering and re-using flash steam. It works on the basis of separating the condensate into water and steam. The water is drained away through a steam trap and mixed with the cold water in the boiler’s water feed tank. The condensate heats the feed water tank up to 80 – 100C. The flash steam that would normally escape as vapour is used to heat the tunnels.

The system is designed to avoid interrupting the laundry’s steam and condensate systems. If there is too much flash steam, the surplus will be sent to the feed tank, if there is insufficient to feed the tunnel, it will be supplemented with live steam.

In the Don Bosco laundry the Steam-X produces direct heat for the tunnels and the washer-extractors while the loop system provides steam for the ironers. The steam is around 180C at 10bar pressure but Steam-X reduces this to 3bar. The condensate has the same temperature as the steam and the separated water is around 140C. Flash steam goes to the Steam-X and does not go out of the building. When the washers are shut off at the end of the day the recovered steam goes to the feed water tank.

The system was installed during the night to avoid disrupting the laundry’s work patterns and was carried out over three nights, with the operational change over taking a further evening.

A big advantage of the system for Don Bosco is that it does not have electrical parts as all components are mechanical and it is therefore low maintenance.

It has produced considerable and immediate savings. As an example, says Erwin Cappaert, the laundry was using gas at a rate of 600m3. Since the installation this has been reduced to 500m3, which translates to savings of around 35 Euros/day without tax or around 9,000 Euros/year.

As a further bonus, productivity has increased and the ironer is working at a faster rate.

The boiler at Don Bosco is not large for a laundry of this size says Erwin Cappaert, but with the Steam-X installation in place it will be sufficient.

Erik Kuiper of EMS Rotor says the savings have been greater than expected. Originally, the company promised around 15% but the system is now achieving 20%, even before the second tunnel has come on stream.

Looking at the broader implications for other plants, he says that to be effective the plant must have enough steam coming back from the washers and dryers and ironers.

At the same time, the laundry processes must consume low pressure steam, and this is only really viable for plants with tunnel washers, as the system is not as effective in a washer-extractor based environment.

According to Dirk Poriau, Christeyns’ national sales manager, many laundries now wash at lower temperatures (60 – 70C) and he says that in this situation re-using surplus energy to heat water can lead to large reserves of hot water building up unnecessarily.

It would be much more efficient to channel this energy, via a Steam-X system into creating steam which can be used in a tunnel washer. This could produce savings of around 20%.

Christeyns has now several Steam-X installations in place. There are three other systems operational in Belgium in addition to Don Bosco. There are six in the Netherlands, one at a laundry in Aruba and one in Ireland.

A GOOD TEAM L-r Dirk Poriau, Christeyns
national sales manager who arranged the sale of the system, Erik Kuiper, EMS Rotor who installed it with Erwin (second from right) and Johan Cappaert, owners of the Don Bosco laundry A GOOD TEAM L-r Dirk Poriau, Christeyns
national sales manager who arranged the sale of the system, Erik Kuiper, EMS Rotor who installed it with Erwin (second from right) and Johan Cappaert, owners of the Don Bosco laundry Group DOUBLE POWER: The Steam-X installation at Don Bosco has doubled the power of the laundry’s old steam boiler ( a section of the system is shown) Steam-x WORKING PRINCIPLES: Diagram of a typical Steam-X system Diagram