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Steam Boiler Feedwater
Storage Technology
Supporting an energy efficient,
highly reliable steam system
White Paper

1 Feedtank construction 4.2 Feedtank capacity 4.0 The components of an effective feedwater system 4.0 The Spirax Sarco feedwater system portfolio 7.0 The role of the deaerator in steam systems 3.0 Deaerator systems 5.6 Sparge pipes 4.2 Pressurised deaerator systems 6.0 Conclusion: Deaerators are critical for efficient and reliable steam systems T e c h n o l o g y .7 Steam injectors 5.0 The need to remove dissolved oxygen and other gases from feedwater 4.3 Make-up water 4.1 Atmospheric deaerator systems 5.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e Contents 1.0 Executive Summary 2.5 Feedtank connections 4.4 Water level control 4.

The feedwater storage system. It provides a reliable further reduction in the use of treatment 1. it must balance and deaerate the ways to lower energy consumption. thermally efficient. and lead to rapid deterioration energy and water treatment costs. Critically. Pressurised deaerators are also supply fails.www. It can also reduce the need for oxygen the reliability of the steam system for a more secure scavenging chemicals such as sodium sulphite by as steam supply. flash steam and raw water productivity. The feedtank is far more than simply a convenient In certain installations that would benefit from a way to store boiler feedwater. pressurised system. and increases of the boiler. It also has an effective energy storage and water Steam system operators are advised to take conditioning role by storing the energy returned from advantage of a professional survey of their installed the steam and condensate system for re-use in the feedwater system to ascertain the most effective boiler. A correctly designed and would otherwise cause corrosion in the steam and implemented feedtank offers substantial savings in condensate system.0 Executive Summary This paper describes best practice for boiler In practice two alternatives exist to suit a steam feedwater system design and operation for owners user’s requirements: an atmospheric solution or a and operators of boiler plant. reduce maintenance and mitigate risk by supplies to ensure maximum energy utilisation and complying with industry best practice and Health & liberate oxygen from the system. source of feedwater to the boiler to meet fluctuating a pressurised deaerator can be implemented to heat steam demand and needs to maintain boiler the feedwater to more than 100°C to drive off virtually operations and protect the boiler if the water all the oxygen.spiraxsarco. or feedtank. increase returned condensate. much as 75%. . Safety legislation. and A well-designed atmospheric deaerator raises the its associated components are vital for the correct feedwater temperature to approximately 85-90°C and efficient operation of the entire industrial steam to remove dissolved oxygen from the water which and condensate system.

It also has an important boiler feedwater storage system using the latest role as a conditioning unit for the boiler feedwater. event of water supply interruption. returned condensate and heat recovery systems. It helps to ensure system. and should be sized to allow at least consumption and that modern package boilers are one hour of emergency steam-generating capacity. The feedtank provides a reservoir of water the entire steam system runs with minimum energy for the boiler. A well-designed feedwater system will also help It also contributes significantly to energy saving within protect a steam system operator’s capital investment the steam plant by efficiently storing the energy from by extending the lifetime of the plant.0 The role of the feedtank in steam systems The boiler feedtank plays an often under-estimated. technologies.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y 2. It must balance the boiler feedwater load with the All industry sectors operating steam boiler plant returned condensate and make-up water to ensure can benefit by the correct implementation of a the boiler operates efficiently. . Implementing an effective boiler feedwater system yet vitally important role in the efficient and reliable will help to avoid corrosion damage in the boiler operation of any industrial or building services steam and steam and condensate loop. in the many of today’s industries. able to meet the fluctuating demands required by depending on the criticality of plant operation.

in the absence of an corrosion-causing dissolved oxygen at 15°C which. under it.spiraxsarco. If a high proportion of make-up of wetted metal surfaces by oxidation corrosion water is used. to be beneficial in many EU markets and is currently gaining favour in the UK. 10 bar g from water at 70°C than at 10°C. hot feedwater improves the boiler’s other dissolved gases from the feedwater. to help eliminate dissolved oxygen. Deaeration. is proving responsiveness to varying load demands. Removal of oxygen is important because untreated The target for dissolved oxygen in the feedwater boiler water contains as much as 10 mg/l of at the economiser inlet or. Requirements for feedwater and boiler water quality. necessarily indicate the depth of damage. and is referenced in BG01 Guidance on Safe So it is important to maintain feedwater temperature Operations of Boilers. reducing the cost oxidation corrosion. Oxygen content (parts per million) Figure 1: The oxygen content of feedwater is reduced as its temperature is increased 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Water temperature (°C) 60 70 80 90 100 . These nodules that need to be introduced into the feedwater system are the by-product 3. which mechanically removes oxygen and Furthermore. the risk of thermal shock in the boiler when cold water hits the hot surfaces of the boiler wall and its tubes.0 T  he need to remove dissolved oxygen and other gases from feedwater As well as providing a reservoir of water for the boiler. The size of the nodule does not of treatment chemicals. could lead to premature failure dissolved oxygen.www. economiser. Boiler operators are advised to as high as possible to minimise the content of follow the guidance contained in these standards. dissolved oxygen and avoid the formation of nodules. is zero if left untreated. the feedtank offers an opportunity to control the water Feedwater at an elevated temperature also reduces quality entering the boiler. the boiler feedwater inlet. and a protective housing for. This benefit is driving the A higher temperature feedwater supply also reduces need for traditional feedtanks to be upgraded with the work the boiler has to do to raise steam. Almost additional atmospheric and pressurised deaeration 10% less energy is required to raise 1 kg of steam at equipment. heating the feedwater can substantially resulting in rusty-looking nodules scattered reduce the amount of oxygen scavenging chemicals throughout the boiler and fire tubes. The only way to completely stop the corrosion at this stage is Correct boiler water treatment and conditioning to remove the nodule and the concentration of solids is covered in BS EN 12953 part 10 Shell boilers.

0 T  he components of an effective feedwater system The design of a feedwater system should focus on Probably the most commonly used material for the the effective integration of water treatment and heat feedtank is carbon steel. not uncommon. the need for regular maintenance While horizontal or vertical cylindrical feedtanks are not only increases the operating cost. 4.1 Feedtank construction Furthermore. most installations have a rectangular- time-consuming work procedures may be required to shaped tank because this offers the optimum volume access confined spaces should the coating need to of water storage for the floor area it occupies. Figure 2: An atmospheric deaerator and its systems . more reliable cost but susceptible to corrosion.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y 4. which is relatively low recovery to support a more efficient. but this substantially increases the tank’s capital cost. can be overcome with a suitable coating. This drawback and lower emission steam system. be re-applied. but difficult.

The water alarm. The length control valve.3 Make-up water wastes valuable energy. From there a are also likely to corrode and can suffer leaks at the modulating valve controls its flow into the feedtank. (where it will be initial cost but this is typically more than justified drawn directly into the boiler feedwater line). The flow from the softener is on-off equates approximately to a 1% fuel saving. above its normal working level to accommodate any 4. low maintenance costs ensure uniform temperature distribution. Many treatment plants need an on/off flow of water through them Returning condensate to the boiler feedtank can to perform cost effectively. • Condensate lying in the plant and pipework suddenly being returned to the tank Returning condensate to the boiler feedtank is • A higher condensing rate while the cold recognised as a highly effective way to improve downstream pipework is brought up to operating steam plant efficiency.www. Therefore Type 304L is the feedtank at a higher level.5 Feedtank connections surges in the rate of condensate return. generally selected as the most appropriate grade of stainless steel. but controlled into the make-up Cast iron sectional tanks are sometimes used. water and water Cold water from the water treatment plant makes treatment chemicals. a needed to produce steam from hot water rather than small plastic or galvanised steel cold make-up tank cold water.spiraxsarco. and to by a long operational life. account the volume of condensate return available. which could cause false readings. flash steam heat A high condensate rate can occur at start-up due to: recovery input and boiler feed. The make-up tank can also provide a heat sink for the boiler blowdown flash recovery system. the feedtank is sized to provide 4. and to comply the water to steam. hotwell should have sufficient capacity. A feedtank modulating save thousands of pounds per year in energy alone. it has been and by avoiding the cost of replacing a failed common practice to sparge the make-up water into lower specification system. To avoid the relatively cold make-up water sinking Austenitic stainless steel feedtanks have a higher to the bottom of the feedtank. The probe is fitted with a protection tube the facility’s operation and also needs to take into inside the feedtank to protect it from turbulence. Piping to and from the feedtank needs to deal with condensate return. control can create a constant but small demand for Using hot condensate to heat the boiler feedwater water resulting in a ‘trickle flow’ that can degrade a leaves the boiler with less work to do in converting softener’s performance. joints between the sections. The signals from the probe can be of emergency steam-generating capacity required linked to a control valve on the cold water make-up depends on how critical the steam supply is to supply. In other words.2 Feedtank capacity Conventionally. This may not be practical in larger plants which Guidance Note BG01 recommends that all instead can be fitted with a smaller ‘hotwell’ feedtank feedwater storage solutions incorporate a low level with additional cold treated water storage. . Condensate also contains temperature around one-quarter of the energy of the steam from which it came. called ullage.4 Water level control the boiler with enough water for at least one hour’s A modern feedtank will typically be fitted with level operation at maximum boiler evaporation to cover probes that give an output signal to modulate a the interruption of make-up water supply. To avoid this. Allowing condensate to pass to drain 4. Every 6°C rise in feedwater temperature is often fitted. less fuel is with regulations requiring an air break of 25mm. up any losses in the system. 4. make-up water.

within the feedwater. 4. with equally spaced effectiveness of feedwater heating. “We need continuity of production and efficient sterilisation which is key to maintaining optimal performance. the injector increases circulation so that the water temperature is consistent throughout the feedtank. Inconsistent feedwater temperature also meant that extra treatment chemicals were needed to protect the boiler. As well as being quiet. As well as being a nuisance for personnel. pressurised condensate will create flash install. because cooler water holds more of the dissolved oxygen that causes corrosion. but above about 2 bar g condensate pressure steam when released in the feedtank.6 Sparge pipes Sparge pipes are inexpensive to make and easy to Typically. The traditional balance maximum and minimum running loads. The injector also cut the consumption of water treatment chemicals by about 75%. which will condense cuts the losses from boiler blowdown. These are simply they reach the surface of the liquid. reducing the pipes mounted inside the tank. steam needs to be condensed to ensure that both They are also notoriously difficult to size correctly to the heat and water are fully recovered. where it mixes with the steam before being discharged. When the feedwater temperature was low. which led to steam supply problems. Steam injector replaces sparge pipes to bring quiet efficiency for mushroom producer Spirax Sarco solved a severe noise problem and overcame shortages of sterilisation steam by installing a steam injector in the boiler feedtank at a mushroom producer. method of doing this has been to introduce it into the the flash steam bubbles may not condense before feedtank through sparge pipes. The flash steam exits the pipes through also reduces the amount of fresh water needed and the holes as small bubbles. A crucial part of the farm’s intensive operation is sterilisation using steam at 5. This flash they can be noisy and cause high levels of vibration. Also.5 bar g.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y Re-using as much condensate as possible minimises holes along the length of each pipe and with the end the cost of chemicals to treat raw make-up water. The sparge pipe was also noisy and caused vibration. The steam injector draws water from the surrounding tank into a nozzle. .” said the producer’s plant engineer. resulting in an inconsistent boiler feedwater temperature. The sparge pipe was inefficient. This enables the operator to top up the boiler at a steady 87°C. The new steam injector replaced a sparge pipe to mix steam with the water in the boiler feedtank. the boiler used excessive energy and took longer to generate steam. vibration can cause extra wear and tear on the steam system. which was a big concern as anyone working in the boiler house had to wear ear protectors. It blanked off.

This noise increases with steam pressure. Even above 8 bar g. vibration or movement of pipework is experienced then it is essential that the feedtank is not operated until the problem has been identified and rectified. water temperature and the number of injectors. as it mixes with recirculating water drawn through the holes into the injector body. A crackling noise This indicates that the steam pressure at the inlet to the steam injector is too low. A soft roar indicates normal running conditions This is caused by steam condensing inside the discharge tube. Note: If excessive noise. An injector fitted in the centre of such a panel may induce vibration and noise. . and generally quieter than sparge pipes. They are also robust thorough mixing of the steam and liquid. Steam bubbles collapse on the injector body and in the connecting pipework. The steam injector body is helping to avoid cold spots. as it mixes with recirculating water drawn through the holes into the injector body. This noise can indicate the steam injector system is oversized. which ensures making them easier to install. but is rarely objectionable at steam pressures below 8 bar g. A soft bumping noise. little vibration should be experienced. A turbulent Steam injectors are smaller than sparge pipes.spiraxsarco. better is to mount the injector nearer the corner of the tank where the structure is stiffer. water temperature and the number of injectors.7 Steam injectors A steam injector draws in water from the bottom of This agitates and circulates the water to maintain the tank and mixes it with steam to distribute heated a constant temperature throughout the 4. liquid to the feedtank. zone is created within the injector. more sophisticated than a simple sparge pipe to allow the use of steam at higher pressures. inducing cavitation. little vibration should be experienced. A vibrating noise This can indicate a poor steam injector installation in a rectangular tank made from relatively flexible panels. Even above 8 bar g. but is rarely objectionable at steam pressures below 8 bar g.www. This noise increases with steam pressure. Steam is travelling at a lower velocity than during normal operation. Is your feedtank steam injector making the right noises? A few minutes listening to a feedtank fitted with a steam injector can reveal whether or not the system is operating correctly. sometimes with heavy vibration This is caused by steam condensing inside the discharge tube.

0 Deaerator systems Dissolved oxygen in the feedwater corrodes boilers. various control systems. although can be chemically controlled. Pressurised deaerators while carbon dioxide dissolved in the feedwater are thermally efficient and will reduce dissolved produces corrosive carbonic acid. Although dissolved gases and low pH oxygen scavenging treatment chemicals. thought of as atmospheric deaerators. The In certain boiler plants. This mechanical process process condensate return and typically hold about is called deaeration. steam conjunction with a feedtank that provides additional injection system and the necessary controls can be storage capacity. which are then carried with 5.2 Pressurised deaerator systems the excess steam to be vented to atmosphere. it is more economical they do require regular insurance inspections. The result is a large surface gases are released from the cold water and can be area of water exposed to steam to allow rapid heat automatically removed through a vent before the transfer from the steam to the water.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y 5. which quickly water enters the main feedtank. attains steam saturation temperature. 15 minutes worth of treated hot water in reserve storage to meet process load changes. pressurised deaerators are deaerated water then falls to the storage section of sometimes installed and live steam is used to bring the vessel. Oxygen and other these with steam. which attacks the oxygen to very low levels minimising the need for boiler system. . Normally 5. the feedwater up to approximately 105°C to drive off the oxygen. The deaerator head mixes high oxygen content cold make-up The head section of a deaerator breaks the water water with flash steam from the condensate and the into as many small drops as possible and surrounds blowdown heat recovery system. and thermally efficient to remove these gases They can also serve as a surge collection tank for mechanically. A pressurised deaerator comprises A blanket of steam is maintained above the stored a pressurised tank fitted with a deaerating head and water to ensure that gases are not re-absorbed. This releases the dissolved gases.1 Atmospheric deaerator systems a pressurised deaerator needs to be operated in Feedtanks fitted with a deaerator head. Figure 3: A pressurised deaerator comprises a pressurised tank fitted with a deaerating head and various control systems Vent condenser Make-up Drain Condensate return Live steam Live steam Chemical dosing Flash steam Two ways to break water into droplets There are two common methods of separating water into small drops inside the deaerator head: • Tray type deaeration: the water flows over a cascade of perforated trays • Spray type deaeration: the water is forced through a spring-loaded nozzle to create a spray Tray type deaeration offers a very long service life of typically 40 years and achieves a very high turndown that is suited to power plant applications.www. . making it the more common choice for process industries. Spray type deaeration is lower cost with a lifespan of around 20 years and a turndown of around 5:1.

Therefore by reducing / eliminating the pneumatically actuated control valve is vital to control addition of chemicals.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y A modulating control valve is used to maintain the Principal reasons for selecting a pressurised water level in the storage section of the pressurised deaerator (operating under water conditions outlined deaerator vessel. • To reduce oxygen levels to a minimum (< 20 parts per billion) without the use of chemicals. A pilot operated pressure control valve may be used on smaller reduced with associated cost savings • To prevent contamination where the steam is applications. Accurate pressure control using a fast acting. Modulating control provides stable in BS EN 12953): operating conditions. down. for example: used when the load is guaranteed to be constant. foodstuffs or for sterilisation . and a self-acting control valve may be in direct contact with the product. avoiding an in-rush of relatively cool water that an on-off system would generate. This will eliminate corrosion in the boiler feed system • To save water treatment chemical costs A modulating control valve is also needed to regulate • Chemicals added to control the oxygen content of the steam supply to maintain the pressure within the the boiler water will themselves require blowing vessel. ruining the ability of the deaerator to respond quickly to sudden demand changes. the blowdown rate will be the temperature in the deaerator.

the immersion tube with the dissolved oxygen content down to approximately a plate top flange. The plate 2 parts per million (ppm) in atmospheric feedtanks to flange is sandwiched between the mixing unit and minimise the oxygen-scavenging chemicals required. All parts are Survey and design services: Spirax Sarco can manufactured from weldable austenitic stainless survey old feedwater installations that need updating steel and held in place with stainless steel studs or replacing. deaerator heads and pressurised break up of water into fine droplets for efficient deaerator systems. Spirax Sarco also offers support for and nuts.000 litres to 30. Additional air vents on the storage tank Feedtanks ranging from 2.spiraxsarco. Available in sizes up controls and products that together make up a to 3. tank sides and bases to increase tank rigidity. while stainless steel. full 15 minutes of water storage to protect process productivity. Spirax Sarco surveys help identify cost-effective updates to existing feedwater installations . They ensure quiet but three parts ̶ the mixing unit with a PN16 or Class vigorous mixing of steam and feedwater to drive off 150 mounting flange. feedwater design to ensure that boiler plant can benefit from the capabilities described in this Pressurised deaerator systems feature an White Paper.000 litres eliminate the potential for corrosion at the water line capacity feature all wetted parts in welded austenitic that other pressurised deaerators can suffer. as well as all the auxiliary steam-to-water heat transfer. Steam injectors are available in three sizes to Flash condensing deaerator head comprising cover most requirements. and two gaskets.500 kg storage capacity. a mating flange welded to the top of the Spirax Sarco feedtank to act as a stiffener. ensure more consistent water levels than are Carbon steel stiffeners are used externally on all possible with conventional float-type controls. the systems provide a feedwater 6.0 The Spirax Sarco feedwater system portfolio Spirax Sarco offers a range of bespoke atmospheric innovative tray-type design to ensure the effective feedtanks.www. This material is proven to be the fully modulating capacitance-type level controls most effective for most boiler feedtank applications.

Spirax Sarco found that large sections of the condensate pipework were corroded and had to be replaced. In addition. The boiler efficiency alone improved by an estimated 12% to save between £30. In addition. . Problems with the condition of the steam began during the feedwater treatment process. Spirax Sarco took a two-pronged approach to solving the problems. Spirax Sarco recommended fitting a steam injection system to heat the boiler feedwater to 90ºC in order to drive off dissolved gases.000 and £40. During an initial site survey. assessing the situation by conducting a mechanical survey across the site and a separate steam system conditioning audit. while corrosion in the pipes that heat the production process allowed product to contaminate the entire steam and condensate system.S t e a m B o i l e r F e e d w a t e r S t o r a g e T e c h n o l o g y Spirax Sarco helped operator achieve substantial energy and maintenance savings Spirax Sarco expertise helped a major UK industrial site make massive savings in energy and maintenance costs by correcting the poor condition of the site’s steam and condensate system. previous corrosion problems had cost £10. which allowed dissolved oxygen into the boiler where it caused corrosion.000 in boiler tube replacements. The engineers also fitted a Spirax Sarco deaerator head in the feedtank to help keep the oxygen level under control. The ions caused scale build up on the boiler tubes and impaired the heat transfer efficiency. where the water softening system was malfunctioning. which are no longer an issue.000 annually in fuel costs. This was allowing the ions responsible for water hardness (principally chloride) to slip through into the boiler. Problems with the old set-up were not confined to the boiler house. the boiler feed temperature was too low. Manual blowdown was also ejecting 10% of the steam being generated by the boiler and that rate has now dropped to 5%.

spiraxsarco. condensate and treated make-up 7. reliability and w: www. Furthermore. maintenance routines and compliance as an energy storage unit for the heat from returned with Health and Safety the correct integration of water treatment and heat t: 01242 521361 recovery within the deaerated feedwater system . The survey of the boiler house is a cost effective way to inclusion of an atmospheric or pressurised deaerator begin this review. simply acting as a feed of water to the boiler.spiraxsarco.www. A Spirax Sarco condensate and heat recovery lifecycle efficiency of boiler plant. Steam system operators are advised to review The feedtank principally provides a water reservoir their feedwater system to ascertain how it may be to balance the boiler feedwater load with returning upgraded in order to benefit their energy efficiency. is also well placed to be an effective conditioning unit for the boiler feedwater and can deliver significant Find out more operating benefits To find out more about Spirax Sarco energy storage solutions: The correct design of the feedwater system can substantially increase the safety. lower emission efficient running of industrial steam systems than steam system. e: ukenquiries@spiraxsarco.0 C  onclusion: Deaerators are critical for efficient and reliable steam systems The deaerator plays a far more significant role in the provides a more energy efficient. It also acts productivity.

Gloucestershire GL53 8ER Tel: 01242 521361 Fax: 01242 573342 E: Charlton House.spiraxsarco.spiraxsarco. www.