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Water for industrial use

In most of the industries, water is used for production of steam.

This water should be free from dissolved Ca and Mg salts. Such
water is called BOILER FEED WATER.
If boiler water contains impurities beyond prescribed limit,
they lead to following problems

Scale and sludge formation in boiler

Boiler Corrosion
Priming and Foaming
Caustic Embrittlement

Scale and Sludge formation in boiler

Sludge: It is soft, loose and slimy precipitate formed in
the boiler water, during the generation of steam
It is formed by MgCO3, MgCl2, MgSO4 and CaCl2
(i)Sludge is poor conductor of heat, so they tend to waste the portion of
heat generated
(ii) Its excess, decrease the efficiency of boiler
(i) Boiler feed water should be well softened
(ii) Blow-down operation should be carried out

Scale: This is hard and adherent, coating formed on inner wall of

boilers, during steam generation.
Low pressure boilers Ca(HCO3)2, MgCl2
High pressure boilers CaSO4, Silica
(i) It is poor conductor of heat so reduce the rate of heat transfer.
(ii) Due to scale formation on heating surfaces, overheating
occurs, so metal becomes soft and weak, and this make boiler
(iii) Boiler tubes may clog due to scale formation.
(iv) Scale formation leads to uneven expansion of boiler metal,
thick scale cracks and when water comes suddenly in contact with
overheated iron plate. This result in the formation of large amount
of heat suddenly, which in turn develops a sudden high pressure
that may lead to explosion of boiler.

Prevention of scales
a.) Internal treatment

b.) External treatment

Conditioning methods

lime soda process,

zeolite or ion
exchange process.

The process where suitable chemicals are added to the boiler containing
hard water with which scales are either precipitated or converted in to
soluble complexes. The chemical used is called Sequestrating agent.

Internal Treatments or Internal Conditioning

In this method appropriate chemicals are added to water in the boiler
when the hardness producing ions are converted in to either more soluble
salts or insoluble ppts. The following are the important internal treatment
methods done inside the boiler.

1. Colloidal Conditioning
Certain organic substance like tannin is added to the boiler water they get
absorbed over scale forming substances thus preventing scale Deposition.

2. Phosphate conditioning
In high pressure boilers, scale formation is prevented by adding sodium
phosphate to boiler feed water. This reacts with Ca 2+ and Mg2+ ions in water
forming non adherent and easily removable soft sludge of Ca and Mg
phosphate. The commonly used phosphate are NaH2PO4, Na2HPO4 and Na3PO4.

2Na3PO4 + 3CaCl2 Ca3(PO4)2 + 6 NaCl

The choice of phosphate depends up on alkalinity of boiler feed water.
For eg. Ca cannot be precipitated below pH 9.5. Hence Na3PO4 is selected to
remove Ca2+ ions.

3. Carbonate Conditioning
In low pressure boilers, scale formation can be prevented by
adding Na2CO3 to boiler feed water. Ca salts are precipitated as
loose sludge of CaCO3 which can be removed by blow down operation.
CaCl2 + Na2CO3

CaCO3 + 2NaCl

4. Calgon Conditioning
Addition of sodium hexameta phosphate called calgon prevents
scale formation by converting Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in to soluble
2Ca2+ + [Na4(PO3)6]2-

2Na + + [Na4(PO3)6]24Na+ + [Ca2(PO3)6]2-

5. Aluminium conditioning
Boiler water is treated with sodium meta aluminate when NaOH
and Al(OH)3 are formed. NaOH precipitates Mg salt as Mg(OH)2.
Both Al(OH)3 and Mg(OH)2 ppts formed entraps all the scale
forming materials. These loose ppt formed can be removed by
blow down operation.
NaAlO2 + 2H2O NaOH + Al(OH)3
2NaOH + MgCl2 Mg(OH)2 + 2NaCl

Boiler corrosion

Decay of boiler material with environment is called boiler

Factors causing:
a) Presence of dissolved oxygen: Liberated dissolved oxygen
attack the boiler material
4Fe + 3O2 +2xH2O


b) Presence of dissolved CO2

CO2 + H2O

H 2CO3 (pitting corrosion)

c) Presence of acid forming salts

MgCl2 + H2O
2HCl + Fe
FeCl2 + 2 H2O

Mg(OH) 2 + 2HCl
FeCl 2 + H2
Fe(OH) 2 + 2 Hcl

Here HCl is formed again and again in a chain like process and
silicic acid catalyse the reaction, if silica is present in water rate
of the reaction increases

1. By mechanical deaerator
Dissolved gases like CO2 and O2 can
be removed by this method
Water undergo deaeration at high
temperature and low pressure because
Solubility of gases in water P /T

2. By addition of O2 removing substances

N2H4 + O2
Na2S + 2O2
2Na2SO3 + O2

3. By addition of alkali

N2 + 2H2O
2 Na2SO4

Priming and Foaming

When steam produced rapidly in boilers some droplets of
water are carried along with the steam. This process of wet
steam formation is called priming.
Causes of Priming
Presence of considerable quantities of dissolved salts.
Sudden boiling
High steam velocity
Sudden increase in steam production rate
Priming can be avoided by :

Fitting mechanical steam purifiers

Controlling rapid change in steam velocities
Maintaining low water level
Efficient solftening of boiler water.

Foaming is the production of froth or bubbles which canot break easily
on the surface of boiler water. It may occur when the pH of the solution
is between 7 and 9.

1. Presence of dissolved impurities and suspended oil content which will reduce
the surface tension of water resulting in bubble formation.
2. Presence of finely divided sludge particles
1) By removing oil or sludge by addition of coagulants .e.g FeSO 4, NaAlO2 etc
2) By addition of antifoaming chemicals e.g. Caster oil
Disadvantages of Priming and Foaming
1. Water hammer which disrupts operation of the equipment. Uneven heating of
2. Actual height of water column in the boiler can not be judged properly, thereby
maintenance of boiler pressure becomes difficult.
3. Dissolved solids in boiler water are carried by the wet steam to super heater
and turbine blades where they get deposited as water evaporates. This deposit
reduces the efficiency of the machine.
4. Erosion of turbine blades

Caustic Embrittlement
The formation of irregular intergranular cracks on boiler metal
particularly at the point of high local stress by the use of highly
alkaline water in the boiler is called Caustic Embrittlement
Na2CO3 + H2O

2NaOH + O 2

This caustic water flows in to the minute hair cracks usually present
on boiler material through capillary action
Here water evaporates and the concentration of NaOH increases progressively
which attacks the surrounding area, thereby dissolving iron of the boiler as
sodium ferroate
3Na2FeO2 + 4 H2O

6NaOH + Fe 3O4 + H2

Mechanistically embrittlement arises due to setting up of

concentration cell

1. By phosphate conditioning of water
2. By addition of certain chemicals like lignin, tannin etc. These prevent
the infiltration of NaOH through air cracks and thus help in preventing it
3. By addition of Na2SO4 to boiler water. Ratio of Na2SO4 : NaOH(present
in boiler water should be
1:1 For up to 10 atm boiler pressure
2:1 For up to 20 atm boiler pressure
3:1 For more than 20 atm boiler pressure
4. Neutralization of excess alkali by suitable technique

External treatment
Ion Exchange
Ion exchange softening, also known as zeolite
softening, passes water through a filter containing
resin granules. In the filter, known as a softener,
calcium and magnesium in the water are
exchanged for sodium from the resin granules.
Ion exchange softening does not require the flash
mixer, flocculation basin, and sedimentation basin
required for lime-soda ash softening. In addition,
the process does not require as much operator
time. Ion exchange softening is effective at
removing both carbonate and non carbonate
hardness and is often used for waters high in
noncarbonate hardness and with a total hardness
less than 350 mg/L.
However, ion exchange softening has its disadvantages as well. The
calcium and magnesium in the hard water are replaced by sodium ions,
which may cause problems for people with health problems (High salt).
Softeners have to be backwashed in a manner similar to a filter, and the
recharge water, known as brine, can cause disposal problems.

Hot Lime-Soda Softening

In low pressure boilers, scale formation can be prevented by
adding Na2CO3 to boiler feed water. Ca salts are precipitated as
loose sludge of CaCO3 which can be removed by blow down operation


(a) Multistage Flash Distillation (MFD)

Flash Distillation or Evaporation

In the flash evaporation process is when the liquid
is preheated and is then subjected to a pressure
below its vapor pressure causing boiling or
flashing to occur. Sea water is first heated in tubes
and is then put in a chamber with a vapor
pressure lower than in the heating tubes and the
liquid evaporates. The vapors flash off the warm
liquid and the salts exit with the remaining water.
It is an advantage to perform this flash-distillation
in several steps. This is called multi-stage flash
Here, the preheated liquid passes through a series
of stages or chambers with each successive stage
at a lower vapor pressure so some of the liquid will
flash at each stage.

(b) Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Cellulose acetate semi-permeable membrane

(b) Reverse Osmosis (RO)

In the normal osmosis process, the solvent naturally moves from an area of
low solute concentration (high water potential), through a membrane, to an
area of high solute concentration (low water potential.
The movement of a pure solvent is driven to reduce the free energy of the
system by equalizing solute concentrations on each side of a membrane,
generating osmotic pressure.
Applying an external pressure to reverse the natural flow of pure solvent,
thus, is Reverse Osmosis.

(c) Electrodialysis

Electrodialysis(ED) is
used to
o another solution
under the influence of
an applieddifference.