The caustic soda prepares the way by making the water definitely alkaline (high pH). The sodium phosphate can then attack the calcium magnesium and silica salts and convert them into a fluid sludge that can be removed by blowdown.
Caustic soda is used when the feedwater cannot build up the required causticity residual in the boiler water. Use of soda ash (Na2 CO3) is not authorized in steaming boilers because it breaks down under heat to form undesired carbon dioxide (CO2 ). This gas is corrosive to condensate return lines. The Navy boiler compound customarily used aboard ship is not authorized because it contains about 39% soda ash.
Sodium phosphate (NaPO4) has a special affinity (attraction) for calcium, and in boiler water the phosphate joins with calcium to precipitate calcium phosphate (CaPO4).
Phosphate prevents the formation of calcium scales, such as calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, or calcium silicate. The precipitate of calcium phosphate develops as a finely divided fluid material that can readily be removed by blow-down. The sodium phosphate dosage should be regulated to maintain a residual reading of 30 ppm to 60 ppm.
Another source of tube coating is BAKED SLUDGE. This sludge comes from dirt, oil, water-treatment chemicals, and so forth, that are suspended in dirty feedwater. The solids settle on tube surfaces and absorb the heat intended to be transferred to the water. The heat then cooks the sludge into a hard coating on the tube walls. These deposits are as hard or harder to remove than TRUE SCALE and should be recognized as a completely different problem. Methods of preventing and combating baked sludge are different from methods of preventing and combating scale.
Baked sludge is very hard to remove by mechanical means, and boiler compound has no effect on it at all. The best method found to combat sludge is to know where it comes from, make it gather by proper treatment, and blow it out before it cooks.
When the proper causticity residual is maintained and phosphate is fed in correct amounts, the scale-forming impurities in boiler water sludges out and should be easy to blow out. Sometimes, however, the characteristics of the precipitated chemicals are such that the sludge formed does not go along with the water and leave the boiler with the blowdown. It has been discovered that additives called sludge conditioners cause the sludge to flow better. Most sludge conditioners are organic substances that act as dispersants. They keep the sludge in a fluid state by holding the precipitates as finely divided particles. As the precipitated chemicals settle, a loose fluid mass that is easy to blow out is formed. The only sludge dispersant approved by NAVFAC for use in shore-based boilers is QUEBRACHO TANNIN.
Generally, when quebracho tannin is used, sufficient quantities are fed to the boiler to give the boiler water a medium tea color. [f the causticity residual is high, a darker color should be maintained. This darker color for high causticity aids in preventing hardening of metal in the boiler. As the tannin particles become part of the sludge and are blown out, the brown color, given to the water by the initial dose of tannin, becomes a lighter color, and more tannin must be added.
Proper blowdown is important because some sludges are almost always in the boiler water. When only parts of the boiler are badly sludged, blowdown may not be complete or there are areas of poor circulation. The boiler design may be such that even good blowdowm does not clear all the parts. Another concern is that frequency, time, and the kind of blowdown being used may not be complete or correct to maintain optimum conditions.
A small amount of seawater in the feedwater causes heavy sludging. Where seawater is likely to contaminate feedwater or where evaporated seawater is used for feedwater, every precaution should be taken to prevent saltwater contamination of the feedwater. Regular daily boiler water tests will show up contaminated feedwater so that it car be corrected before serious harm is done.
Where makeup water is clean and not much sludge shows at bottom blowdown, tannin may not be necessary. Where there is a lot of sludge, the addition of tannin is a big help in keeping the boiler free and clean. Also, much less sludge-forming materials are required when the raw water makeup is upgraded by external treatment.Continue Reading