Steam boiler systems are complex with not only the physics of the mechanical side to worry about but the chemistry of the water side as well. There are many problems that can occur that will impact boiler reliability. The mechanisms that can lead to failures in a steam boiler system can often be identified if you know what to look for. Here are five (5) common causes of waterside failures with pictures and descriptions to help you recognize them.
Steam Purity is a measure of all contaminants in steam, with high-purity steam containing only trace amounts of contamination. Maintaining high steam purity is important in many industries, but there are few applications where it is more critical than in healthcare facilities that use plant steam for surgical instrument sterilization and/or operating room humidification. In a hospital, any contaminants in the steam could potentially interfere with proper sterilization as well as be inhaled by hospital patients, staff, and visitors. Understanding how and where to add the water treatment chemicals and the factors that can cause boiler water carryover will help hospitals ensure that high-purity plant steam is consistently produced.
Breweries are obsessive about hygiene. The management of bacterial growth throughout the whole process is thoroughly monitored on a daily basis in a brewery since the consequences of bacterial action can include: off-taste, appearance change, and unpleasant odors. That’s just the product. Bacterial growth involves the formation of biofilms, which is the primary mode of survival and proliferation for microorganisms leading also to fouling and corrosion of equipment. The impact can be huge on the operations in many ways: cost of production, increased water and energy usage, production yield, commercial reputation, etc. A responsive “Get Clean, Keep Clean” approach can help breweries avoid these problems.
The pandemic has been challenging for many small brewers. Although draft beer sales in the US were down more than 40% in 2020, the number of craft breweries increased to an all-time high of 8,764. The popularity of these smaller breweries shows their resilience to weathering the worst of economic conditions. Although each brewery has a unique brewing style and operation, they all require the use of steam to brew. Proper boiler operation and maintenance is important to ensure an uninterrupted steam supply during brews. However, due to how small breweries operate, effectively managing oxygen corrosion can be very challenging.
Water treatment makes good economic sense. An effective water treatment program helps maximize the life, efficiency, reliability, and safety of boiler and cooling systems and minimizes total operating costs. Water treatment only represents a small percentage of the costs associated with operating a boiler or cooling system. However, this small percentage dramatically influences the total operating costs (fuel, water, maintenance, and labor).