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Characteristics of boiler feed water

Water absorbs more heat for a given temperature rise than any other common inorganic substance. It expands 1600 times as it evaporates to form steam at atmospheric pressure. The steam is capable of carrying large quantities of heat. These unique properties of water make it an ideal raw material for heating and power generating processes. All natural waters contain varying amounts of dissolved and suspended matter and dissolved gases the amount of minerals dissolved in water varies from 30 g/l in sea water to anything from 0.005 to 1500 mg/l in fresh water supplies. Since water impurities cause boiler problems, careful consideration must be given to the quality of the water used for generating steam. The composition of boiler feed water must be such that the impurities in it can be concentrated a reasonable number of times inside the boiler, without exceeding the tolerance limits of the particular boiler design. If the feed water does not meet these requirements it must be pretreated to remove impurities. The impurities need not be completely removed in all cases, however, since chemical treatment inside the boiler can effectively and economically counteract them. Feed-water purity is a matter both of quantity of impurities and nature of impurities: some impurities such as hardness, iron and silica are of more concern, for example, than sodium salts. The purity requirements for any feed-water depend on how much feed water is used as well as what the particular boiler design (pressure, heat transfer rate, etc.) can tolerate. Feed-water purity requirements therefore can vary widely. A low-pressure fire-tube boiler can usually tolerate high feed-water hardness with proper treatment while virtually all impurities must be removed from water used in some modern, high-pressure boilers. Only relatively wide ranges can be given as to maximum levels of alkalis, salt, silica, phosphates etc, in relation to working pressure. The actual maximum levels must be obtained fro the boiler manufacturer, who will base them on the characteristics of the boiler in question. The following tables are extracts of recommended levels from APAVE (Association of electrical and steam unit owners), up to pressures of 100 bar for medium steaming rates and for volumes of water in the chambers sufficient to properly control the blow down rates, and from ABMA (American Boiler Manufacturers Association) in its standard guarantee of steam purity. Working Pressure (Bar) 20.8 - 31.1 - 41.5 - 51.8 0 - 20.7 31.0 41.4 51.7 62.1 Feed water Dissolved oxygen (measured before oxygen scavenger addition) Total Iron Total copper Total hardness 62.2 68.9 69.0 103.4 103.5 137.9










0.1 0.05 0.3

0.05 0.025 0.3

0.03 0.02 0.2

0.025 0.02 0.2

0.02 0.015 0.1

0.02 0.015 0.05

0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 not detectable

2 0.0 150 350 1 1 7.07 M > 0.5 0.03 mg/l Total copper not specified 0.2 0.5 7.5 7.05 0.60 60 .5 to 12 10 to 11 Softened or softened and carbonate Demineralized Make up water free .6 9.5 M > 0.05 0.5 10.45 Feed water Dissolved oxygen (measured before oxygen scavenger addition) 40 .01 Boiler water M alkalinity 100 80 60 40 15 10 5 French degrees 0.3 0.25 25 .05 pH > 8.0 30 200 0.1 0.0 .9.05 Total hardness degrees Oily matter mg/l absence 0.0 .03 0.15 15 .5 10.2 0.07 M 0.05 0.100 mg/l 0.5 10.2 0.75 75 .5 .6 8 100 2 1 not specified not detectable not specified 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 150 100 Working Pressure (Bar) 0 .05 0.5 M P alkalinity SiO2 200 150 90 40 15 10 5 TDS mg/l 4000 3000 2000 1500 500 300 100 Phosphates 30 to 100 31 to 100 20 to 80 21 to 80 10 to 60 10 to 40 5 to 20 pH 10.05 0.5 Total Iron not specified 0.07 M 0.03 0.07 M 0.0 20 150 0.2 0.5 9.9.5 0.5 M > 0.9.0 40 250 0.5 10.5 0.02 (Physical removal of dissolved oxygen) French 0.35 35 .5 0.5 10.5 7.2 0.(CaCO3) Non volatile TOC Oily matter pH at 25 Boiler Water Silica Total alkalinity CaCO3 mg/l Free hydroxide alkalinity CaCO3 Specific conductance at mS/cm 25 without neutralization 1 1 7.0 90 300 0.05 0.2 8.

h per degree C SiO2 0. aluminum.Scaling in boilers Boiler scale is caused by impurities being precipitated out of the water directly on heat transfer surfaces or by suspended matter in water settling out on the metal and becoming hard and adherent. The crystal of silica are extremely small. forming a very dense and impervious scale. The crystals of calcium carbonate are large but usually are matted together with finely divided particles of other materials so that the scale looks dense and uniform. and silica. Leading to local overheating.h per degree C CaCO3 0. or to the presence of too high concentration of silica in relation to the alkalinity of the water in the boiler.5 kcal/m2. Common feed water contaminants that can form boiler deposits include calcium. Scaling mechanism is the exceeding of the solubility limits of mineral substances due to elevated temperature and solids concentration at the tube/water interface. resembling porcelain. Evaporation in a boiler causes impurities to concentrate. This interferes with heat transfers and may cause hot spots. and does not effervesce when dropped into acid. A sulphate deposit is much harder and more dense than a carbonate deposit because the crystals are smaller and cement together tighter. This scale is extremely brittle and very difficult to pulverize. does not pulverize easily. Scale is formed by salts that have limited solubility but are not totally insoluble in boiler water. leading to local overheating.h per degree C Scaling is mainly due to the presence of calcium and magnesium salts (carbonates or sulphates). the more dangerous they are. The less heat they conduct. A carbonate deposit is usually granular and sometimes of a very porous nature. Bubbles of carbon dioxide will effervesce from the scale. which are less soluble hot than cold. due either to corrosion or iron . These salts reach the deposit site in a soluble form and precipitate.5-1 kcal/m2. The deposition of crystalline precipitates on the walls of the boiler interferes with heat transfer and may cause hot spots. magnesium. A high silica deposit is very hard.2-0. iron. Dropping it in a solution of acid can easily identify a carbonate deposit. It is not soluble in hydrochloric acid and is usually very light coloured. The values corresponding to their thermal conductivity are: Steel 15 kcal/m2.h per degree C CaSO4 1-2 kcal/m2. Iron deposits. A Sulphate deposit is brittle.

Eventually. The value of the ratio increases almost logarithmically with increasing pressure and decreases with increasing pH. magnesium and calcium. from the scale forming minerals and to replace them with sodium ions. If the silica enters the boiler water.aalborgindustries. This ratio depends on two factors: boiler pressure and boiler water pH. acting as an insulator. silica becomes more soluble as steam is superheated. In general. cause unscheduled boiler ownload/aal_sol_6_mar04. and increase cleaning expense. scaling causes progressive lowering of the boiler efficiency by heat retardation. produce boiler damage.contamination in the water. silica is distribute between the boiler water and the steam in a definite ratio. are very dark coloured. The first anti-scaling preventative measure is to supply good quality demineralised water as make–up feed water. The purer the feed water is. Images Source: http://www. scale built-up will cause the tube to overheat and rupture. Boiler deposits can also cause plugging or partial obstruction of corrosive attack underneath the deposits may occur. to . Iron deposits in boilers are most often magnetic. A long-established technique is to detach the hardness cations. the weaker the driving mechanism to form scale. Its solubility in steam increases with increased temperature. boiler deposits can cut operating efficiency. Researchers have found that for any given set of boiler conditions using demineralized or evaporated quality make-up water. Scale-forming minerals that do enter the boiler can be rendered harmless by internal chemical treatment. therefore. If unchecked.pdf Presence of Silica Silica can vaporize into the steam at operating pressures as low as 28 bars. The conditions under which vaporous silica carryover occurs have been thoroughly investigated and documented. the usual corrective action is to increase boiler blowdown. They are soluble in hot acid giving a dark brown coloured solution.

It is generally believed. In these cases the condensate should be temporarily wasted until the source of contamination is found and eliminated. greases. steam-carried solids produce turbine blade deposits. Bubbles or froth actually build up on the surface of the boiler water and pass out with the steam. can be very effective in . Read more: http://www. Avoiding high water levels. These conditions often lead to super heater tube failures as the presence of certain organic substances and by total salinity or TDS. The most common measure to prevent foaming and priming is to maintain the concentration of solids in the boiler water at reasonably low levels. Very often contaminated condensate returned to the boiler system causes carry-over problems. It is believed that the finer the suspended particles the greater their collection in the bubble. The steam bubble therefore resists breaking and builds up foam. certain types of organic matter and suspended solids are particularly conducive to foaming.lenntech. The use of chemical anti-foaming and anti-priming agents. Priming is the carryover of varying amounts of droplets of water in the steam (foam and mist).htm#ixzz2JFHpuU6b Foaming and priming in boilers Boiler water carry-over is the contamination of the steam with boiler-water solids. The degree of priming also depends on the design of the boiler and its steaming rate. When this boiler water carryover is excessive. and sudden load changes also helps. excessive ratings. Priming may be caused by improper construction of boiler. The accumulations have a composition similar to that of the dissolved solids in the boiler water. These properties are governed by alkalinity. mixtures of surface-active agents that modify the surface tension of a liquid. remove foam and prevent the carry-over of fine water particles in the stream. which lowers the energy efficiency of the steam and leads to the deposit of salt crystals on the super heaters and in the turbines. Priming is common cause of high levels of boiler water carryover. that specific substances such as alkalis. excessive boiler loads. In theory suspended solids collect in the surface film surrounding a steam bubble and make it tougher. Priming is related to the viscosity of the water and its tendency to foam. Some mechanical entertainment of minute drops of boiler water in the steam always occurs. fats. or sudden fluctuations in steam demand. however. oils. Priming is sometimes aggravated by impurities in the boiler-water.decrease it to acceptable levels and then to correct the condition that caused the silica contamination. This is called foaming and it is caused by high concentration of any solids in the boiler water.

acid conditions. Iron. the permitted concentration in the make-up water is thus defined.preventing carry-over due to high concentrations of impurities in the boiler-water.lenntech. and specific chemical corrodents may have an important influence and produce different forms of attack. to corrosion currents set up as a result of heterogeneities on metal Starting form these figures. Corrosion may occur in the feed-water system as a result of low pH water and the presence of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide. The process of corrosion.htm#ixzz2JFIIfOIt Corrosion in boilers Corrosion is the reversion of a metal to its ore form. reverts to iron oxide as the result of corrosion. In the steam and condensate system corrosion is generally the result of contamination with carbon dioxide and oxygen. Corrosion in the boiler proper generally occurs when the boiler water alkalinity is low or when the metal is exposed to oxygen bearing water either during operation or idle periods. It is necessary to consider the quantity of the various harmful substances that can be allowed in the boiler water without risk of damage to the boiler. or to the iron being directly attacked by the water. Read more: http://www. High temperature corrosion can proceed only if the corroding deposit is in the liquid phase and the liquid is in direct contact with the metal. Deposits also promote the transport of oxygen to the metal surface. Corrosion is caused principally by complex oxide-slag with low melting points. Corrosion can be of widely varying origin and nature due to the action of dissolved oxygen. Specific contaminants such as ammonia or sulphur bearing gases may increase attack on copper alloys in the system. While basic corrosion in boilers may be primarily due to reaction of the metal with oxygen. other factors such as stresses. Corrosion may produce general attach over a large metal surface or it may result in pinpoint penetration of metal. and allowing the amount that can be blown down. Corrosion is caused by the combination of oxide layer . for example. High temperatures and stresses in the boiler metal tend to accelerate the corrosive mechanisms. however is a complex electro chemical reaction and it takes many forms. Corrosion is a relevant problem caused by water in boilers.

metal stresses. The second type of corrosion fatigue cracking occurs in boilers with properly treated water. and severity of service can strongly influence corrosion rates. control of oxygen. They usually start at internal tube surfaces and are most often circumferential on the tube. For further information about the different types of corrosion check the following web pages:       Galvanic corrosion Caustic corrosion Acidic corrosion Hydrogen embrittlement Oxygen attack Carbon dioxide attack Protection of steel in a boiler system depends on temperature. nearly complete oxygen removal is required. and reduction of stresses trough design and operational practices. Corrosion fatigue cracks are usually thick. These cracks often originate where a dense protective oxide film covers the metal surfaces and cracking occurs from the action of applied cyclic stresses. Cracking in boiler metal may occur by two different mechanisms. higher temperatures. Systems vary in corrosion tendencies and should be evaluated individually. In the first mechanism. This can be accomplished only by efficient mechanical deaeration supplemented by a properly controlled oxygen scavenger.fluxing and continuous oxidation by transported oxygen. Mechanical and operation factors such as velocities. decreases with increasing . control of deposits. Deaeration and recently the use of membrane contractors are the best and most diffused ways to avoid corrosion removing the dissolved gasses (mainly O2 and CO2).htm#ixzz2JFIkFCV1 Deaeration in boilers In order to meet industrial standards for both oxygen content and the allowable metal oxide levels in feed water.lenntech. Major methods include maintenance of the proper pH. Generally. blunt and cross the metal and oxygen content. In these cases corrosion fatigue is probably a misnomer. Corrosion control techniques vary according to the type of corrosion encountered. high or low pH levels and higher oxygen concentrations increase steel corrosion rates. Read more: http://www. cyclic stresses are created by rapid heating and cooling and are concentrated at points where corrosion has roughened or pitted the metal surface. This is usually associated with improper corrosion prevention. pH. Deaeration is driven by the following principles: the solubility of any gas in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of the gas at the liquid surface.

Pressure deaerators can be classified under two major categories: tray type and spray type. tray stacks and protective interchamber walls. Incoming water is sprayed into steam atmosphere. Membrane contractors are increasingly being used. The purpose of a deaerator is to reduce dissolved gases.liquid temperature. flows down through the tray stack parallel to the water flow. Before leaving the tray compartment. efficiency of removal is increased when the liquid and gas are thoroughly mixed. Most of the non-condensable gases (principally oxygen and free carbon dioxide) are released to the steam as the water is sprayed into the unit. which intimately contact the incoming steam. The chamber is constructed in low carbon steel. Water falls from tray to tray. to a low level and improve plant thermal efficiency by raising the water temperature. the steam flows upward between the shell and the interchamber walls to the spray section. where it is heated up to a few degrees to the saturation temperature of the steam. Carbon dioxide is often removed using a physical medium. they provide feed water storage and proper suction conditions for boiler feed water pumps. Deaeration can be performed using a physical medium such as deaerating heaters or vacuum deaerators or a chemical medium such as oxygen scavengers (polishing treatment) or catalytic resins. The steam heats the water to the steam saturation temperature and removes the very last traces of oxygen. spray nozzles to distribute and spray the water. In addition. Most of the steam is . breaking into fine droplets of film. The rest of the steam scrubs the cascading water. where a steam blanket protects it from recontamination. The steam enters the deaerators through ports in the tray compartment. A very small amount of steam condenses in this section as the water temperature rises to the saturation temperature of the steam. It is usually stored in a separate tank. but more corrosionresistant stainless steels are used for the spray nozzles and the other parts. Deaerated water falls to the storage space below. The tray type desecrating heaters consist of a shell. Seals prevent the recontamination of tray stack water by gases from the spray section. particularly oxygen. a direct contact vent condenser.

The spray type deaerating heaters consist of a shell. or co-current to the water. In this way a small amount of flashing is produced. The incoming water is sprayed into a steam atmosphere and heated up to a few degrees to the saturation temperature of the steam. It is essential that sufficient venting is provided at all times or deaeration will be incomplete. is vented to the atmosphere. Most of the non-condensable gases are released to the steam. the shell and steam may be low carbon steel. which contains the non-condensable gas released from the water. and the heated water falls to water seals and drains to the lowest section of the steam scrubber. spring-loaded inlet spray valves. The water is scrubbed by a large volume of steam and heated to the saturation temperature prevailing at that point. counter-current. a direct contact vent condenser section and a steam scrubber for final dearetion. As the water-steam mixture rises in the scrubber. the spray valves and the direct contact vent condenser section are in stainless steel. the deaerated water is a few degrees above the saturation temperature. A small portion of the steam. due to a slight pressure loss.condensed and becomes part of the deaerated water. which aids in the release of dissolved . Steam flow through the tray stack may be cross-flow.

In general. external treatment is used when the amount of one or more of the feed water impurities is too high to be tolerated by the boiler system in question.lenntech. Operational problems such as water/steam hammer can also be a factor. poor welds and lack of stress-relieved welds. Vacuum deaerators remove oxygen less efficiently that pressure units. A small portion of the gases is vented to the atmosphere to remove the non-condensable gases. Corrosion fatigue at or near welds is a major problem in deaerators. Vacuum deaeration is used at temperatures below the atmospheric boiling point to reduce the corrosion rate in water distribution systems. A vacuum is applied to the system to bring the water to its saturation temperature.htm#ixzz2JFJ6ZvKQ Boiler water treatment The treatment and conditioning of boiler feed water must satisfy three main objectives:    Continuous heat exchange Corrosion protection Production of high quality steam External treatment is the reduction or removal of impurities from water outside the boiler. depending on the size of the system. The released gases and water vapor are removed through the vacuum. Read more: which is maintained by steam jet eductors or vacuum pumps. The deaerated water overflows from the steam scrubber to the storage section below. Incoming water enters through spray nozzles and falls through a columns packed with Raschig rings to other synthetic packing. Internal treatment is the conditioning of impurities within the boiler system. scavenge oxygen and . Steam enters the deaerator through a chest on the side and flows to the steam scrubber. condition sludge. Its purpose is to properly react with feed water hardness. After flowing into the scrubber it passes up into the spray heater section to heat the incoming water.) which can be used to tailor make feed-water for a particular system. such as manufacturing procedures. Internal treatment may be used alone or in conjunction with external treatment. In this way. which promote the release of dissolved gases. It is the result of mechanical factors. deaeration. The reactions occur either in the feed lines or in the boiler proper. evaporation. Most of the steam condenses in the spray section to become a part of the deaerated water. Spray nozzles break the water into small particles to facilitate gas removal and vent the exhaust gases. There are many types of external treatment (softening. water is reduced to thin films and droplets. membrane contractors etc.gases.

Sometimes to increase the efficiency the vapor from the first tank is passed through coils in a second tank of water to produce additional heating and evaporation. alkalinity and in some cases silica. External treatment The water treatment facilities purify and deaerate make-up water or feed water. and subsequent treatment with a cation exchange softener. the simplest being a tank of water through which steam coils are passed to heat the water to the boiling point. alkalinity and silica reduction. They have particular advantages over demineralization. when the dissolved solids in the raw water are very high. Evaporators are suitable where steam as a source of heat is readily available. In many cases external treatment of the water supply is not necessary and the water can be treated only by internal methods. Since simple cation exchange does not reduce the total solids of the water supply. . Water is sometimes pretreated by evaporation to produce relatively pure vapor. 2) condition any suspended matter such as hardness sludge or iron oxide in the boiler and make it non-adherent to the boiler metal. for example. which is then condensed and used for boiler feed purposes. 3) provide anti-foam protection to allow a reasonable concentration of dissolved and suspended solids in the boiler water without foam carry-over. Internal treatment Internal treatment can constitute the unique treatment when boilers operate at low or moderate pressure.prevent boiler water foaming. This involves pretreatment of the water with lime to reduce hardness. oxygen. and removal of suspended matter and turbidity. This system of treatment accomplishes several functions: softening. some oxygen reduction. or when good quality raw water is available. Evaporators are of several different types. it is sometimes used in conjunction with precipitation type softening. silica.). Certain natural and synthetic materials have the ability to remove mineral ions from water in exchange for others. The purpose of an internal treatment is to 1) react with any feed-water hardness and prevent it from precipitating on the boiler metal as scale. One of the most common and efficient combination treatments is the hot lime-zeolite process. when large amounts of condensed steam are used for feed water. in passing water through a simple cation exchange softener all of calcium and magnesium ions are removed and replaced with sodium ions. Chemical treatment of water inside the boiler is usually essential and complements external treatment by taking care of any impurities entering the boiler with the feed water (hardness. For example. etc.

etc. Calcium bicarbonate entering with the feed water is broken down at boiler temperatures or reacts with caustic soda to form calcium carbonate. caustic and various types of sodium phosphates. The commonly used products include:      Phosphates-dispersants. They can be: o Natural polymers: lignosulphonates. Sodium silicate is used to react selectively with magnesium hardness. These chemicals react with calcium and magnesium compounds in the feed water. hydroxylamine derivatives. Anti-foaming or anti-priming agents: mixture of surface-active agents that modify the surface tension of a liquid. which is an essential complement to the water treatment program. as supplementary measures an internal treatment should prevent corrosion and scaling of the feed-water system and protect against corrosion in the steam condensate systems. hydroxylamine derivatives. which act as inhibitors and implement a threshold effect. reduce the oxides and dissolved oxygen. remove foam and prevent the carry over of fine water particles in the steam. In addition. maleic acrylate copolymer. polyphosphates-dispersants (softening chemicals): reacting with the alkalinity of boiler water. tannis. specific doses of conditioning products are added to the water. tannins o Synthetic polymers: polyacrilates. Oxygen scavengers: sodium sulphite. The softening chemicals used include soda ash. hydroquinone/progallol-based derivatives. these products neutralize the hardness of water by forming tricalcium phosphate. ascorbic acid derivatives. Sodium carbonate partially breaks down at high temperature to sodium hydroxide (caustic) and . The choice of product and the dose required will depend on whether a deaerating heater is used.4) eliminate oxygen from the water and provide enough alkalinity to prevent boiler corrosion. Sequestering agents: such as inorganic phosphates. During the conditioning process. Most also passivate metal surfaces. polystyrene sulphonates etc. maleic styrene copolymer. Natural and synthetic dispersants (Anti-scaling agents): increase the dispersive properties of the conditioning products. These scavengers. Since calcium carbonate is relatively insoluble it tends to come out of solution. and insoluble compound that can be disposed and blow down on a continuous basis or periodically through the bottom of the boiler. hydrazine. catalyzed or not.

Chemicals added to react with dissolved oxygen (sulphate. This can be removed by blowdown. lignin or alginate classes. Sodium sulphate is highly soluble and remains in solution unless the water is evaporated almost to dryness. Softening chemicals may be added continuously or intermittently depending on feed-water hardiness and other factors. They may also be fed through a separate line discharging in the feedwater drum of the boiler. When the total amount of sludge is high (as the result of high feed-water hardness) it is better to coagulate the sludge to form large flocculent particles. Common internal chemical feeding methods include the use of chemical solution tanks and proportioning pumps or special ball briquette chemical etc.) should be fed in the feed-water system as continuously as possible. etc. depending on the specific chemical used. Certain synthetic organic materials are used as anti-foam agents. The chemicals used to scavenge oxygen include sodium sulphite and hydrazine. based on the fee-water analysis.htm#ixzz2JFJY9pVn . Chemicals used to prevent condensate system corrosion may be fed directly to the steam or into the feedwater system. When the amount of sludge is not high (low feed water hardness) it is preferable to use a higher percentage of phosphates in the treatment. Phosphates form separated sludge particles. A higher percentage of organic sludge dispersants is used in the treatment to keep the sludge particles dispersed throughout the boiler water. The materials used for conditioning sludge include various organic materials of the tannin.) and chemicals used to prevent scale and corrosion in the feed-water system (polyphosphates. organics.carbon dioxide. It is important that these organics are selected and processed. The coagulation can be obtained by careful adjustment of the amounts of alkalis. In general. Various combinations of polyphosphates and organics are used for preventing scale and corrosion in feed-water systems. Some magnesium may react with silica to form magnesium silicate. etc. softening chemicals (phosphates. sodium phosphate or sodium silicate to form insoluble calcium carbonate. The chemicals should discharge in the fee-water section of the boiler so that reactions occur in the water before it enters the steam generating area. caustic.lenntech. phosphates and organics used for treatment. Magnesium sulphate is reacted upon by caustic soda to form a precipitate of magnesium hydroxide. Volatile neutralizing amines and filming inhibitors are used for preventing condensate corrosion. Continuous feeding is preferred but intermittent application will suffice in some cases. Check also our web page about the production of high pure water through Electrodeionization (EDI). Read more: http://www. so that they are both effective and stand stable at the boiler operating pressure. High temperatures in the boiler water reduce the solubility of calcium sulphate and tend to make it precipitate out directly on the boiler metal as scale.) are added directly to the fee-water at a point near the entrance to the boiler drum. soda ash. phosphate or silicate. There are two general approaches to conditioning sludge inside a boiler: by coagulation or dispersion. Calcium sulphate is reacted on either by sodium carbonate. hydrazine. Consequently calcium sulphate must be reacted upon chemically to cause a precipitate to form in the water where it can be conditioned and removed by blow-down.