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In treatment of water complete elimination of all the impurities is not possible. The impurity that gives rise
to certain troubles will be removed to certain extent. In modern pressure boilers and laboratories, water
purer than the distilled water is required. Some of the boiler troubles caused by the use of unsuitable water
1. Carryover – Priming and Foaming
2. Scale formation
3. Boiler corrosion and
4. Caustic embrittlement

1. Carryover – Priming and Foaming

a. Priming: it may defined as the violent or rapid boiling of water occurring in the boiler which results
in carrying out of water with steam in in the form of a spray.
When a boiler is producing steam rapidly, some particles of liquid water are carried along with the
steam. This process of wet steam formation is called priming.
Priming mainly caused due to very high water level. The presence of large amount of dissolved
solids, high steam velocities, sudden increase in steam production rate. Sudden steam demand which
leads to sudden boiling, presence of excessive foam filling the foam spare, and due to faulty boiler
priming can be controlled by proper boiler design, fitting mechanical steam purifier, avoiding rapid
change in steam-rate, proper evaporation and adequate heating surfaces, uniform distribution of fuel and
providing anti priming pipes, keeping the water level low and avoid sudden steam demands. Efficient
softening and filtration of the boiler feed water.

b. Foaming: Foaming is the formation of small but stable bubbles above the surface. The main reason
for foaming is being presence of fatty acids and other impurities.
Foaming can be controlled by using anti-foaming chemicals, removal of concentrated boiler water
and replacing it by fresh feed water. Removing oil from boiler water by adding compounds like
sodium aluminate.

2. Scale formation: Some hard, sticky, adherent deposits formed on the inner surface of the boilers
are known as Scales.
Scales are hard, adhering precipitates formed on the inner walls of the boilers. They stick very firmly on
to the wall surface and are difficult to remove with chisel and hammer.
Generally scales are formed due to decomposition of calcium bicarbonates, decomposition of calcium
sulphates, presence of silica and hydrolysis of magnesium salts.
Scales formation can be prevented by external treatment of boiler feed water, internal treatment of water
in boiler and blow-down process.

3. Boiler Corrosion: The chemical or electro chemical eating away of metal by its environment in a
boiler is known as boiler corrosion. The main reason for this problem is the presence of excess of
oxygen in water. It can be prevented by mechanical deaerator, pre-heating and chemical treatment.

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4. Caustic Embrittlement: The formation of brittle and incrystalline cracks in the boiler shell is
called caustic embrittlement.
It is a type of boiler corrosion and the main reason for this, is the presence of alkali-metal carbonates and
bicarbonates in feed water and also the presence of sodium sulphate.
In lime-soda process, it is likely that, some residual Na2CO3 is still present in the softened water. This
Na2CO3 decomposes to give NaOH and CO2, due to which the boiler water becomes “Caustic”.
Na2CO3+ H2O  NaOH + CO2
This caustic water flows inside the boiler and causes some minutes hair-cracks, by capillary action.
On evaporation of water, the dissolved caustic soda increases its concentration which attacks the
surrounding area, thereby dissolving Iron of boiler as Sodium ferroate.
This causes embrittlement of boiler parts such as bends, joints, reverts etc, due to which the boiler gets
fail. Caustic cracking can be explained by considering the following concentration cell:

Iron at bends,
| Concentrated | Dilute NaOH solution |- Iron at plane surfaces
joints, reverts etc, NaOH solution

Therefore, caustic embrittlement can be prevented.

a. By maintaining the pH value of water and neutralization of alkali.
b. By using Sodium Phosphate as softening reagents, in the external treatment of boilers.
c. Caustic embrittlement can also be prevented by adding Tannin or Lignin or Sodium sulphate
which prevents the infiltration of caustic-soda solution blocking the hair-cracks.


In boilers, because of continuous evaporation of water, the concentration of salts increase
progressively and after the saturation point is reached, precipitate form on the inner walls of boiler.
SLUDGE: Sludge is a soft, loose and slimy precipitate formed within the boiler. It is formed at
comparatively colder portions of the boiler and collects in the area where flow rate is slow.
These are formed by substances which have greater solubilities in hot water than in cold-water.
Eg. MgCO3, MgCl2, CaCl2, MgSO4.


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a. As the sludge’s are poor conductor of heat they cause loss of heat.
b. The working of the boiler is disturbed because of chocking of pipes by the sludge.
a. By using well softened water.
b. By drawing off a portion of concentrated water frequently.

SCALES: Scales are hard, adhering precipitates formed on the inner walls of the boilers. They stick
very firmly on to the inner wall surface and are difficult to remove with chisel and hammer.

causes of scale formation: Following are the causes

a. decomposition of calcium bicarbonate:
Ca(HCO3)2  CaCO3 + H2O + CO2
In low pressure boilers, CaCO3 causes scale formation.
In High pressure boilers, CaCO3 becomes soluble.
CaCO3 + H2O  Ca(OH)2 + CO2

b. Decomposition of calcium sulphate:

The solubility of CaSO4 in water decreases with rise of Temperature. In super heated water CaSO4 is
This is the main cause in high-pressure boilers.

c. Hydrolysis of Magnesium salts:

Dissolved Magnesium salts undergo hydrolysis forming Mg(OH)2 precipitate.
MgCl2 + 2H2O - Mg(OH)2 + 2 HCl
Mg(OH)2 so found by hydrolysis of Magnesium salts is a soft type of scale.

d. Presence of Silica: Silica present in small quantities deposits as silicates like CaSiO3 and MgSiO3.
These are very difficult to remove.

a. wastage of fuel: The scale formation causes decreases of heat transfer. As a result over heating is
required this causes consumption of fuel.
b. danger of Explosion: The hot scale cracks because of expansion and water suddenly comes in
contact with overheated Iron plates. This causes in formation of large amount o steam suddenly. This
results high pressure causing boiler to burst.

a. External treatment: Efficient softening of water is to be carried out.
b. Internal treatment: Suitable chemicals are added to the boiler water either to precipitate or to
convert the scale into compounds.

Internal treatment of boiler water is carried out by adding proper chemicals to precipitate the scale
forming impurities in the form of sludge and to convert the scale forming chemicals into compounds
which will stay in dissolved form in water. This process is mainly used as a corrective treatment to
remove the slight residual hardness and also sometimes to remove the corrosive tendencies in water.
Some of the internal treatment methods used for the removed of scale formation in boilers are.

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a. COLLODIAL CONDITIONING: The addition of organic substances such as Kerosene, tannin,
Gel etc., to the surface in low pressure boilers may prevent the scale formation. These substances
gets coated over the scale forming precipitates and gives a loose and non-sticky precipitates which
can be removed by using blow-down operation.
b. PHOSPHATE CONDITIONING: The addition of sodium phosphate in hard water reacts with the
hardness causing agents and gives calcium and magnesium phosphates which are soft and non-
adhere and can be removed easily by blow-down operation. In this way, scale formation is removed
in high-pressure boilers.
3CaCl2 + 2 Na3PO4  Ca3(PO4)2 + 6NaCl

c. CARBONATE CONDITIONING: In low-pressure boilers, scale-formation can be avoided by

adding sodium carbonate to boiler water, when CaSO4 is converted into calcium carbonate in
CaSO4 + Na2CO3  CaCO3 + Na2SO4
Consequently, deposition of CaSO4 as scale doesn’t take place and calcium is precipitated as loose
sludge of CaCO3 which can be removed by blow-down operation.

d. CALGON CONDITIONING: Involves in adding calgon to boiler water. it prevents the scale and
sludge formation by forming soluble complex compound with CaSO4.
Calgon = Sodium hexa Meta phosphate = (NaPO3)6

Na2 [Na4 (PO3)6] ==== 2Na+ + [Na4P6O18]-2

2CaSO4 [ Na4P6O18]-2 [Ca2P6O18]-2 + 2Na2SO4

e. SODIUM ALUMINATE: Sodium aluminate gets hydrolyzed yielding NaOH and a gelatinous
precipitate of aluminum hydroxide.
Thus NaAlO2 + 2H2O  NaOH + Al (OH)3
The sodium hydroxide, so-formed, precipitates some of the magnesium as Mg (OH)2, i.e.,
MgCl2 + 2NaOH  Mg (OH)2 + 2NaCl
The flocculent precipitate of Mg (OH)2 plus aluminum hydroxide, produced inside the boiler,
entraps finely suspended and colloidal impurities, including oil drops and silica. The loose precipitate
can be removed by pre-determined blow-down operation.

Water used for industrial purposes such as for steam generation, should be sufficiently pure.
It should, therefore be freed from hardness-producing salts before put to use.
The process of removing hardness-producing salts from water is known as softening of water.
In industry main three external methods employed for softening of water are.
1. Lime-Soda process
2. Zeolite process
3. Ion-Exchange process

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In this method, the soluble calcium and magnesium salts in water are chemically converted in to
insoluble compounds, by adding calculated amount of Lime and Soda. CaCO3 and Mg(OH)2
so precipitated, these precipitates are filtered off.

Lime soda process mainly two types, they are

1. Cold Lime-soda process
2. Hot Lime-soda process.


In this method, calculated quantity of chemical like lime and soda are mixed with water at
room temperature.At room temperature, the precipitates formed are finely divided, so they do not settle
down easily and cannot be filtered easily.

Consequently, it is essential to add small amounts of coagulants like alum, aluminum sulphate, sodium
aluminate, etc. Which hydrolyze to flocculent, gelatinousprecipitate of aluminum hydroxide, and entraps
fine precipitates.

Use of sodium aluminate as coagulant also helps the removal of silica as well as oil,
if present in water. Cold L-S process provides water, containing a residual hardness of 50 to 60 ppm.

NaAlO2 + 2H2O  NaOH + Al(OH)3

Al2(SO4)3 + 3Ca(HCO3)2  2Al(OH)3 + 3CaSO4 + 6CO2
METHOD: Raw water and calculated quantities of chemicals ( Lime + soda + Coagulants) are fed from the
top into the inner vertical circular chamber, fitted with a vertical rotating shat carrying a number of paddles.
As the raw water and chemicals flow down, there is a vigorous stirring and continuous mixing, whereby
softening of water reaches up. The softened water comes into the outer co-axial chamber, it rises upwards.
The heavy sludge or precipitated floc settles down the outer chamber by the time the softened water reaches
up. The softened water then passes through a filtering media this is usually made of wood fibres to ensure
complete removal of sludge. Filtered soft water finally flows out continuously through the outlet at the top.
Sludge settling at the bottom of the outer chamber is drawn of occasionally.

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a. The reaction proceeds faster

b. The softening capacity f hot process is increased to many fold
c. The precipitate and sludge formed settle down rapidly and hence, no coagulants are needed
d. Much of the dissolved gases such as CO2 and air driven out of the water
e. Viscosity of softened water is lower, so filtration of water becomes much easier. this in-turn
increases the filtering capacity of filters, and
f. Hot lime-soda process produces water of comparatively lower residual hardness of 15 to 30 ppm.

Hot lime-soda plant consists essentially of three parts

1. A ‘Reaction tank’ in which raw water, chemicals and steam are thoroughly mixed.
2. A ‘Conical sedimentation vessel’ in which sludge settles down, and
3. A ‘sand filter’ which ensures completes removal of sludge from the softened water.


1. It is very economical
2. If this process is combined with sedimentation with coagulation, lesser amounts of coagulants shall
be needed.
3. The process increases the pH value of the treated-water; thereby corrosion of the distribution pipes is
4. Besides the removal of harness, the quantity of minerals in the water is reduced.
5. To certain extent, iron and manganese are also removed from the water.
6. Due to alkaline nature of treated-water, amount of pathogenic bacteria in water is considerably
1. For efficient and economical softening, careful operation and skilled supervision is required.
2. Disposal of large amounts of sludge or insoluble precipitates poses a problem. However, the sludge
may be disposed off in raising low-lying areas of the city.
3. This can remove hardness only upto 15 ppm, which is not good for boilers.

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Ion exchange process also known as demineralization or de-ionization process.
Ion-Exchange resins are insoluble. Cross linked long chain organic polymers with a micro porous
structure, and the “functional Groups” attached to the chains are responsible for the ion-exchanging
In De-ionization process all the ions present in water are eliminated by using ion-exchange resins.
Basically resins with acidic functional group are capable of exchanging H+ ions with other cations.
Resins with functional groups are capable of exchanging OH- ions with other anions.
Resins are classified as
1. Cation Exchange Resins
2. Anion Exchange Resins
1. Cation Exchange Resins: These are mainly styrene divinyl benzene co-polymers, which on
sulphonation or carboxylation. These are capable of exchanging their hydrogen ions with cations
in water.

2. Anion Exchange Resins: Anion exchange resins are styrene-divinyl benzene or amine-
formaldehyde copolymers, which contains amino, quaternary ammonium or quaternary
phosphonium or tertiary sulphonium groups as an internal parts of the resin matrix. These after
treatment with dilute NaOH solution. Become capable of exchanging their OH- ions with anions
in water.

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In ion-exchange process, hard water is allowed to pass through cation exchange resins, which
remove Ca+2 and Mg+2 ions and exchange equivalent amount of H+ ions. Anions exchange resins
remove bicarbonates, chlorides and sulphates from water exchange equivalent amount of Oh ions.
Thus by passing hard water through cation hardness is observed by the following reactions.
Cation Exchange Resins
2RH+ + Ca+2 - R2Ca+2 + 2H+
2RH+ + Mg+2  R2Mg+2 + 2H+ (RH+ = cation exchange resin)
Anion Exchange Resins
R’OH + Cl+2  R’Cl- + OH-
2R’OH- + SO4-2  R2SO4-2 -2 + 2OH-
2R’OH + CO-32  R’2 CO-32 + 2OH- (R’OH = anion exchange resin)

H- And OH- ions, thus released in water from respective cation and anion exchange columns, get
combined to produce water molecules.
H+ + OH-  H2O
The water coming out from the exchanger is ion free i.e., free from anions and cations. Thus water of
zero hardness is obtained.

When cation exchanger losses capacity of producing H+ ions and exchanger losses capacity of
producing OH- ions, they are said to be exhausted. The exhausted cation exchanger is regenerated by
passing it through dilute sulphruric acid.
R2Ca+2 + 2H+  2RH+ + Ca+2
The exhausted anion exchanger is regenerated by passing a dilute solution of NaOH.
R2SO4-2 + 2OH  2R’OH- + SO

Merits of Ion-exchange process:

a. The process can be used to soften highly acidic or alkaline water.
b. It produces water of very low hardness (2 ppm)
c. So it is very good for treating water for use in high-pressure boilers.

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Demerits of Ion-exchange process:
a. The equipment is costly and more expensive chemicals are needed.
b. If water contains turbidity, the output of the process is reduced. The turbidity must be below 10 ppm;
else it has to be removed by coagulation and filtration.

Zeolites are also known as Permutits;
Zeolites are mainly 2 types:
1. Natural zeolites are non-porous, eg. Natrolite- Na2O.Al2O3.4SiO2.2H2O.
2. Synthetic Zeolites are porous and possess gel structure. Sodium zeolites are generally used for
softening of water and are simply represented as Na2Ze, where ‘Ze’ stands for insoluble zeolite. In the
process, when hard water is passed through a bed of zeolite placed in an closed cylinder, the hardness
causing ions like Ca+2 and Mg+2 ions are taken up by the zeolite. Sodium salts are released during the
reaction, as byproduct.
Process: For softening of water by zeolite process, hard water is percolated at a specified rate through
a bed of zeolite, kept in a cylinder. The hardness causing ions like Ca+2, Mg+2 are retained by the
zeolite as CaZe and MgZe; while the outgoing water contains sodium salts.
The various reactions taking place may be
Na2Ze + Ca(HCO3)2  CaZe + 2NaHCO3
Na2Ze + Mg(HCO3)2  MgZe + 2NaHCO3
Na2Ze + MgCl2  MgZe + 2NaCl
Na2Ze + CaCl2  CaZe + 2NaCl

Na2Ze + MgSO4 MgZe + 2Na2SO4

Na2Ze + CaSO4 CaZe + 2Na2SO4

Hence zeolite process removes the hardness of water effectively.

Regeneration: After some time, the Zeolite is completely converted into calcium and magnesium
zeolites and it ceases to soften water, i.e., it gets exhausted. At this stage, the supply of hard water is
stopped and the exhausted zeolite is reclaimed by treating the bed with a concentrated Brine solution
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(10% NaCl).
CaZe + 2 NaCl  Na2Ze + CaCl2
MgZe + 2 NaCl  Na2Ze + MgCl2

a. It removes the hardness completely and water of about 10 ppm hardness is produced.
b. The equipment used is compact, occupying a small space.
c. No impurities are precipitated, so there is no danger of sludge formation in the treated water at a
later stage.
d. The process automatically adjusts itself for variation in hardness of incoming water.
e. It is quite clean
f. It requires less time for softening.
g. It requires less skill for maintenance as well as operation.

a. The treated water contains more sodium salts than in lime-soda process.
b. This method causes caustic embrittlement.
c. High turbidity water cannot be treated efficiently by this method.

1. If the supply of water is turbid, the suspended matter must be removed, before the water is admitted to
the zeolite bed. Otherwise the turbidity will clog the pores of zeolite bed, thereby making it inactive.

2. If water contains large quantities of coloured ions such as Mn+2 and fe+2 they must be removed first,
because these ions produce magnesium and Ferrous zeolites. This cannot be easily regenerated.

3. Mineral acids, if present in water, destroy the zeolite bed and therefore, they must be neutralized with
soda, before admitting the water to the zeolite softening plant.



1 Water treatment plant Water treatment plant occupies Water treatment plant occupies
occupies more area or place. less area. less area.

2 Water after treatment has Water after treatment has much Water after treatment free from
lesser dissolved solids. more dissolved solids. dissolved solids

3 This method of water This method of water treatment This method of water treatment
treatment plants is not much plants is more expensive and plants is more expensive and
expensive and material used material used for softening is material used for softening is
is cheap. expensive. expensive.

4 Operation expenses are higher Operation expenses are low Operation expenses are higher

5 The cost incurred on The cost incurred on softening of The cost incurred on softening of

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softening of water is high. water is low. water is high
6 It cannot operate in under It can even operate in under It can even operate in under
pressure. pressure. pressure.
7 It can be used for treating This method of softening the It can be used for treating acidic
acidic water also. water is not used for treating and alkaline water also.
acidic water.
8 There is a problem of settling, There is no problem of settling, There is problem of turbidity.
coagulation and removal of coagulation and removal of
sludge. sludge.
9 It is not possible. This method can be made This method can be made
automatic. automatic.
10 In order to meet the changing Control test comprises only in Control test comprises only in
hardness of incoming water, checking the hardness of treated- checking the hardness of treated-
frequent control and water. water.
adjustment of reagents is
11 Residual hardness is low Residual hardness is low about Residual hardness is low about 0
about 15 to 50 ppm 10 to 15 ppm to 2 ppm

12 It is not good for boilers It is not good for boilers It is very good for treating water
for use in high pressure boilers.
13 Skilled persons required It required less skill for It required less skill for
maintenance as well as operation maintenance as well as operation

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