In this article we review aspects concerning the use of water in industrial steam boiler applications.
We look specifically at boiler water from a water treatment perspective, examining some of the problems that can occur under industrial operating conditions, solutions to these problems, and how these solutions are applied in practice.
What is boiler water?
An odourless, invisible gas consisting of vaporized water. It is usually interspersed with minute droplets of water, which give it a white, cloudy appearance.
In nature, steam is produced by the heating of underground water by volcanic processes and is emitted from hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and certain types of volcanoes.
Steam as a heat transfer medium
Steam is used as a heat transfer medium in several industries including food, paper, process, chemical manufacture etc.
In industry steam is produced by steam boilers which come in all shapes, sizes, types and pressures and the water within them likewise.
This is what makes the life of a water treatment specialist interesting... having to deal with many a wide range of environmental and operational variables and having the knowledge and experience to be able to treat them effectively.
Why is water used in boilers?
Steam under pressure exists at elevated temperatures, greater than 100oC and therefore can be used to transfer energy to different parts of a system.
This energy can then be used to cook, create energy for chemical reactions, heat water and a myriad of other uses.
Steam being "pure" water dissolves other materials within it very easily and it is these other materials that cause problems to the boiler system as a whole that require treatment.
Materials such as metals from the system, oxygen and carbon dioxide to name but a few.
What are the problems associated with boiler water and how do they occur?
There are several potential problems that occur within a boiler system, some of which require chemical or other mechanical treatments.
The primary problems encountered in boiler water and steam generation systems are:
- boiler water carryover
- sludge deposition
All four issues can cause problems in all parts of a steam boiler system starting with the feed-tank leading through the boiler and into the condensate system.
These problems usually arise from the quality of the water used within the steam raising system and the manner in which the system is operated and hence it is not only chemical issues that need to be addressed.
What happens if these boiler problems are not treated correctly?
In extreme cases is has been known for steam boilers to explode causing much damage and even death.
So it is for this reason that strict standards have arisen on how to treat and maintain boiler and steam generating systems.
We should also consider boiler efficiency problems including the inefficient use of excess fuel being used to raise the steam, or leaks causing loss of water, chemicals and energy from the system.
All of these issues are avoidable with good planned maintenance procedures, the application of the correct boiler water treatment chemicals and plant equipment.
Chemical boiler water treatment products
Accepta has a full range of scientifically formulated boiler water treatment chemicals designed to help overcome the problems outlined above. They include:
- Oxygen Scavengers to absorb oxygen and so prevent oxygen corrosion.
- Novel oxygen scavengers such as DEHA and carbohydrazide.
- Sludge conditioners to help prevent suspended solids baking onto heat transfer surfaces causing loss of heat transfer.
- A range of boiler specific polymers.
- Polymer phosphate blends.
- Phosphate based scale inhibitors.
- Alkalinity control chemicals to help prevent corrosion.
- Antifoams and de-foamers to minimise boiler water carryover.
- Amines to protect the boiler condensate systems from oxygen and carbon dioxide corrosion.
- Neutralising amines.
- Mixed neutralising amines to treat all sizes of systems.
- Filming amines.
- Resin cleaners for treating base exchange water softeners.
- Products for the removal of iron fouling softener resins.
How are Accepta's products applied?
All Accepta boiler treatment products are ideally dosed continuously via a dosing pump and tank.
For optimum consumption they should be linked to a water meter on the feed water to ensure they are only dosed when required, and not under or over dosed.
Some products should be dosed to the feed water whilst others to the steam header depending on the specific product selected, boiler system configuration and problems experienced.
For more information you should consult Accepta’s specialist technical support team for more information.
What are the benefits of using Accepta boiler products?
Accepta's high performance boiler water treatment products assist in the optimisation of a boiler systems operation reducing costs and down-time, they also help as part of a planned maintenance regime to extend the life of plant and equipment.
For additional information, expert advice, application procedures and Safety Data information relating to our range of boiler water treatment chemicals please contact Accepta's technical support specialists on +44 (0) 161 877 2334 or email