This short article is about the treatment of feedwater in boilers and steam generating systems and how it should be dealt with to ensure good performance. The term feedwater is usually associated with the operation of larger, industrial sized boilers or steam generators and is an important part of the steam generating process.
The water feeding a steam boiler is fed in to the steam drum from a feed pump. Inside the steam drum the feedwater is then converted in to steam from the heat generated by the boiler itself. After the steam is used it is then returned to the main condenser system. From the steam condenser the feedwater is then pumped to the deaerated feed tank. From this tank the feedwater is then returned to the steam drum which completes the cycle.
It is important to understand that steam feedwater is not open to the atmosphere. This feedwater recycling system is commonly referred to as a closed system or Rankine cycle, where losses in to the feed water are typically very minor but can occur.
Industrial boilers are typically treated with the application of speciality chemical additives which are used to prevent scaling, control alkalinity, maintain correct pH levels, and to control conductivity.
It is important to note that the water used in a steam system needs to be carefully monitored and controlled, alkaline and not acidic, so that it does not destroy the boiler tubes. Often there can also be too much conductivity in the feedwater when dissolved solids build up in the water.
Optimum boiler conditions can be achieved by an experienced boiler operator and the use of the correct boiler treatment chemicals. The main objectives in the management of a steam boiler system is to treat and condition the boiler water to ensure efficient heat exchange is achieved, avoiding boiler scaling, protecting the steam system against unwanted scaling, and the production of the best quality steam output.
Treating Boiler Systems
The treatment of any boiler system should be considered in two parts, and these are the internal and external treatment of the boiler system.
The internal treatments focus on the treatment of the feedwater, while the external treatment considers the boiler make-up water and the condensate components of the steam generating system.
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