A 300 psig standby steam boiler was procured and installed in the NREL Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility using a procurement and project management level of rigor that was consistent with standard industrial equipment practices. The boiler was advertised as a commercial "off the shelf" unit manufactured with well-established and applicable standards, including the associated layers of quality assurance and controls associated with those standards, reputable fabricators, and mechanical contractors. Since the time of installation, a number of non-ASME code compliant issues, with either the original fabrication or with replacement parts, have been identified. In general, the quality and collective competence in the steam industry is in decline and owners of steam systems should employ a greater level of rigor in acquisition, installation, inspection, maintenance, and operation of steam systems (especially high-pressure boiler systems) to maintain an acceptable level of safety, quality, and reliability.
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