End user perspectives

Meeting New Challenges In Power Plant Water Treatment: A Conversation with Andy Howell, Senior System Chemist at Xcel Energy

By Mike Henley

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Controlling cost and providing power plant water supplies are two challenges faced by the utility industry. In a recent interview with Ultrapure, Andy Howell, PhD, a senior system chemist with Xcel Energy in Henderson, CO, observed, "One of the biggest things that have come up the last 2 years has been boiler chemical cleaning cost. The last 5 years it has risen dramatically and it shows no sign of slowing down. Part of that is because of stricter regulations on managing the waste from the cleaning."

Dr. Howell said that much of the rising cost comes fromenvironmental regulations that no longer allow boiler cleaning waste to be evaporated in operating boilers, and require special disposal. For example, a large power plant boiler can cost $1 million to clean. Half of that cost can be tied to cleaning waste disposal. Such boilers may require cleaning every 5 to 10 years.

Providing adequate water supplies is another issue facing power stations. He noted that Xcel has water rights staff that "identifies water supplies to make sure facilities have sufficient cooling water." This job has become more challenging because of the competition for available water.

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