Boiler Damage Caused by Feedwater Impurities

Boilers make use of feed water to generate steam, and feed water quality affects the equipment’s life span. Impurities in the form of solids could contaminate boiler surfaces, causing a variety of damages to its parts.

Oxygen. This is a natural component of water but it accelerates corrosion especially with high heat. It results in pitting of turbine blades, boiler tubes and failure of fittings, steam lines, etc. This could be minimized through de-aeration or through chemicals such as caustic soda, slacked lime and hydrazine.

Grease. This could cause foaming and accumulation of sediments as it enters the boiler with condensate. Filter it and use iron alum for coagulant. Heating professionals may use hydrocarbon oils or neutralize grease with soda carbonate.

Organic matter. This may include diatoms, moulds, and bacterial slimes present in surface water, which breaks down to form organic acids. Low feed water pH hastens corrosion on boiler tubes. Suspended solids accumulate on the water surface, making the release of steam bubbles in the boiler difficult. Sodium carbonate used to treat animal and vegetable oil impurity may also cause foaming, and solid deposits could clog the piping. Plumbing and heating companies can treat this by settling tanks and filtering with coagulants.

Sodium. A number of salt compounds are present in most waters. They aren’t highly soluble and chemical precipitation is not enough to rid water of them. They could cause foaming or form carbonic acid from the carbonates that trap steam, corrode and make boiler parts brittle.

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