Steam traps are mechanical devices used to collect steam in industrial equipment. Most designs place the trap on the bottom of the device, where the steam can be recovered. Non-condensable gases collect on the top of the trap and steam collects at its bottom. Tunstall steam traps cover all the basic types.
Mechanical, temperature, thermodynamic and Venturi versions of this device exist exist. Each type of trap works in a slightly different fashion, although they all serve the same purpose.
Mechanical traps rely on a float to determine when a valve opens and closes. When the float raises, the trap opens and lets the steam out. When it is closed, it recollects the condensate.
A steam trap that relies on temperature open or close depending on whether the metal heats or contracts. When the metal expands, condensate is collecting and the valve switches itself to the off position. When the temperature cools, the valve opens to let out the steam.
A thermodynamic steam trap relies on pressure differences that allow the machine to run in regular cycles. The device measures pressure against a valve and opens or closes depending on the type of pressure.
Venturi traps are used for applications where the owner or user of the machine wants as little steam to escape as possible. Steam and condensate flow past forcing the valve to open or close depending on the pressure felt on the Venturi. The valve opens for a short time to let out steam before it closes again and the condensate gets recycled in the system.
Tunstall steam traps allow factories to conserve energy in certain applications and reduce the energy costs of operating the machinery necessary for the operation. Most stam traps are made out of metals with high melting points to prevent the device from melting. Operators are generally expected to stay away from steam traps while the device they are attached to is in operation.