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Boiler Water Treatment

Proper treatment of make-up waste and boiler water is necessary to prevent scale, or other deposits, and corrosion within the boiler. The absence of adequate external and internal treatment can lead to operational upsets or total boiler failure. Where a choice is available, pretreatment external to the boiler is always preferred and more reliable than treatment within the boiler.

Obtain, and follow, instructions for feedwater treatment, prepared by a competent feedwater chemist. Do not experiment with homemade treatment methods or compounds.

Representative samples of feedwater and boiler water must be analyzed frequently to ensure they are in specification. The following terms and guidelines are to be used in conjunction with the advice of a water treatment specialist.

Recommended Guidelines for Boiler Water Treatment


ANALYSIS RECOMMENDED USAGE COMMENTS
pH
Total Alkalinity
Phosphates
Total Hardness

Chlorides

Total Dissolved Solids

Sulfites
Specific Conductance
Oxygen
10-11
200-700 ppm

30-100 ppm

0-50 ppm
60-200 ppm
2000 ppm Maximum
20-30 ppm
< 700 micro ohms cm
< .007 mg/liter
Low pH promotes corrosion
Low; promotes corrosion

Prevents scale formation

Prevents scale formation

A measure of proper blow down

High solids may cause surging
A good oxygen scavenger
A measure of proper blow down

Prevents corrosion and pitting


Use proper water treatment to prevent the buildup of scale on the boiler. After scale has built up on the walls of the boiler it is almost impossible to remove it from the boiler. The introduction of acids in the pressure vessel is thoroughly discouraged, since virtually any solution that will chemically attack the scale will also attack the boiler metal.

pH

The pH value of the boiler water is a number between zero and fourteen. Values below seven are acidic, seven is neutral, and values above seven are alkaline.

The pH factor is the most important factor influencing scale formation and the corrosive tendencies of boiler water. The pH should be maintained between a minimum of 10.5 and a maximum of 11.0 to prevent acidic corrosion of boiler tubes and plates, and to provide for the precipitation of scale forming salts before scale is deposited.

Below a pH of 5.0 the water is acidic enough to dissolve the steel boiler plates. Under these conditions the steel gradually becomes thinner and thinner until its destruction. At a pH between 5 and 9.4 pitting of shell plates will occur at a rate depending on the amount of dissolved oxygen in the boiler.

Dissolved Oxygen

Dissolved oxygen is caused by the solubility of atmospheric oxygen in the supply water. Aeration of the city water supply is frequently used to remove other noxious gasses. Efficient aeration results in saturation of the water with oxygen.

The majority of corrosion problems are directly related to the quantity of dissolved oxygen in the boiler water. Elimination of the corrosive effect of dissolved oxygen can be accomplished both directly and chemically.

Direct or mechanical removal of dissolved oxygen is accomplished through the use of a deaerator or by heating the water to a temperature above 180 degrees F. Heating the water can be done with a preheater or sparge tube installed in the return system.

Chemical deaeration is done through the introduction of specific chemicals in the boiler to react with the oxygen. The dissolved oxygen content should be maintained at a minimum but at no time should it exceed 0.007 mg/l.

Sulfites

Sodium sulfite is generally used for the chemical removal of dissolved oxygen within the boiler water. To assure the rapid and complete removal of the oxygen entering the boiler feedwater system the concentration of sulfite in the boiler must be maintained at a minimum of 20 PPM (parts per million).

Solids

Solids can be broken up into two categories: suspended solids and dissolved solids. Suspended solids are those which can be removed by filtration while dissolved solids are in solution with the water. The best test for the determination of solids content of the boiler water is through a conductance test.

The conductance value of boiler water varies by the various ionized salts present. The conductance can be used to measure the total dissolved solids in the boiler water and to serve as an accurate means of the control of solids through the use of blowdown.

Another test which is sometimes used as a gauge of solids is to measure the chloride present in the boiler water. The ratio of chlorides in the boiler water to that of the feed water can be used as a means to determine the amount of blowdown required. The chloride test is unsuitable for feedwater with low incoming concentrations and the concentrations in the feedwater must be averaged over time for accuracy.

High boiler solids will lead to foaming, priming, surging and carry over. These problems can be overcome by proper, daily blowdown of the boiler.

Alkalinity

The alkalinity of boiler water should be sufficiently high enough to protect shell and plates against acidic corrosion, but not high enough to produce carryover. A minimum value for alkalinity for adequate protection is 200 PPM.

High boiler alkalinity, which is in excess of 700 PPM, should be avoided. Values higher than this can lead to embrittlement of the steel.

Phosphates

Phosphates are used to react with calcium hardness in the boiler water. In order for this reaction to take place it is important to maintain a pH at a minimum value of 9.50. It is desirable to keep the concentration of phosphates in the water to 30 - 50 PPM in order for complete reaction of the phosphates with the calcium hardness entering the boiler through the feedwater.

Hardness

The hardness of water is caused by calcium and magnesium ions which will vary greatly throughout the country depending on the source of the water.

In boilers the hardness of the water can cause the formation of scale and sludge or mud. The hardness must be removed in the makeup water to the return system. Total hardness should not exceed 50 PPM.

Oils

Every effort should be made to prevent oils from getting into the boiler water. Oil causes foaming, or combines with suspended solids to form a sludge which can cause the overheating of boiler plates. If oil does get into the boiler, the boiler should be taken out of service immediately and thoroughly cleaned.

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