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  • BOILER ROOM BLOG
    Keep up on the latest steam plant conversation
    from the experts at IB&M.

There must be something in the water…

As water is the very heart of every industrial boiler operation, proper treatment for feed water and make-up water is critical to achieving efficiency, cost savings and long term equipment life. If there is poor or no water treatment, sediment or scale build up can accumulate and lead to poor heat transfer, overheated and damaged boiler tubes, and ultimately boiler failure.

Water quality requirements and treatment technologies for boiler water depend primarily of the boiler type and operating pressure. These can vary widely, from simple soft water for low pressure boilers to near ultrapure water for critical boilers or nuclear power steam generators.

Some of the key elements to determining steam boiler water quality include the water source (fresh water, sea water, city water, etc.), hardness (amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium ions in the water), total dissolved solids, or TDS (all organic and inorganic substances), alkalinity (measure of the acid-neutralizing capacity), and purity (quantity and nature of impurities present, such as suspended solids, dissolved solids and gases).

There are several physical and chemical treatment solutions that address process feed water and make-up operation needs, such as:

  • Water softener systems - water softening involves removing calcium and magnesium ions from water, typically through Nanofiltration (NF) or Ion Exchange (IX) to reduce scaling.
     
  • Demineralization – removes nearly all of the ions present in water, common with high pressure steam applications and pure water requirements.
     
  • Deionization – involves the process of passing water through an ion exchange to remove ions, salts and minerals.
     
  • Dealkalization – another form of ion exchange, used to reduce the corrosive carbon dioxide in boiler steam and condensate.
     
  • Reverse osmosis filtration – system membranes remove solids, dissolved minerals, organics, and other particles to produce high quality water.
     
  • Condensate polishers – used to filter water condensed from steam and remove or exchange ions in order to maintain condensate purity and prevent acidity that can cause corrosion.

A water treatment expert can help ensure that your boiler feed water and make-up water chemistry is suitable for the application and process output needed, and properly maintained for efficient boiler operation. Treatment strategies are developed case-by-case based on the entire system, with makeup water and boiler water tested routinely to determine the cycles of concentration. With the right water management solution in place, you can expect cost savings in the forms of reduced chemical, fuel and water consumption, along with maximized equipment life and reduced maintenance costs.

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