Boiler Feedwater

30 Year's Experience in Fighting Corrosion at Power Plants

By Bill Boyd


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This title is purposely broad so that there could be some flexibility in sharing some work experiences. However, it could easily be a title for a book rather than for a short article. The author has limited article sections to a few examples and items of interest related to understanding the chemistry for the topic. Changes in guidelines are not always received very well. Change is sometimes perceived as an admission of being wrong, or negligent in the past.

An example, in the medical profession was Ignaz Semmelweis who was a physician in the 1800s and did a through scientific study that showed reduction in infant mortality to less than 1% from about 35%. It was simply a result of the sterilization of the physician’s hands prior to delivery. Although the study definitively proved a causal relationship between sterilization and healthy deliveries, it took more than 50 years for this to become general practice. He did a second study that also confirmed his first study in another hospital. The medical community did not receive either study very well. They did not accept that the deaths could be related to their treatment. 

Over the last 30 years in power cycle chemistry, we have received different approaches and recommendations related to phosphate, or the use of caustic in boilers, our view on oxygen for all-ferrous systems, recommended pH ranges, and CACE (cation conductivity). This article will offer some supplementary information related to some decisions the writer has been involved with over the years as a water treatment professional.  

Chemistry program development and enforcement. What we would like is a chemical treatment regimen that minimizes corrosion, does not cause damage and/or does not interfere with the measurement of any damaging contamination. If you search the Internet on chemical treatments, you will often see conflicting statements, based on opinion or anecdotal evidence rather than scientific research with controls and repeatable data built into a study. In evaluating the evidence for recommending a treatment change, you have to evaluate the evidence and the source of information and determine if the evidence is anecdotal or scientific.  

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