Steam is a vital part of any hospital’s operation. Because steam is self-propelled, it is an ideal way of transferring large amounts of heat around a large and complex campus. Some of the many applications for steam use include sterilisation, humidification, heating and domestic hot water provision.
Central steam generation: Steam is distributed around the site for various uses. Steam distribution is achieved by using pipework called a steam main.
Hot tap water: Hospitals have a critical need for significant amounts of hot water for sinks, showers, kitchens etc. Steam is a cost-effective solution for the hospital’s entire hot water demand.
Heating: Steam can be used for space heating. This is often achieved by pumping water around the heating circuits (including radiators etc.) and is referred to as low-temperature hot water (LTHW). Although more capital intensive, LTHW can be more cost-effective in the long term on new-build sites. The cost of replacing site infrastructure is usually prohibitive when moving from steam to hot water on existing sites.
Steam humidification: Getting the correct humidity within a hospital is essential to the wellbeing of people. According to the European Directive 2002/91/ EC, EN ISO 13790:2008, EN 13779:2008 VDI 6022, DIN 1946-4 and UNI11425, ventilation and air conditioning systems (that control both temperature and humidity of the air) used in operating theatres are obliged to ensure ideal temperature humidity conditions for doctors and patients. This means that accurate humidity control is a legal requirement. This is achieved by low-temperature steam being injected into the incoming air to operating theatres and buildings using ancillary equipment that connects to the humidity stat.
Sterilisation: Steam’s high temperature and pressure make it ideally suitable for sterilisation of instruments and medical waste etc.
Laundry: Steam’s versatility enables it to be used easily in many parts of the laundry. With the huge amounts of dirty linen and clothes that a hospital produces, steam is a cost-effective solution when already being applied to other parts of the hospital’s operation.