Many of us are familiar with the term “hard water,” which is excess calcium, magnesium, and other minerals in the water supply. But what are the effects of hard water?
One by-product of hard water, scale, can clog pipes, and wreak havoc on both commercial and industrial plumbing. It also interferes with the energy efficiency of your industrial boiler and commercial water heater, since the buildup doesn’t conduct heat. It takes more energy to heat water in a scale-covered boiler and water heater tubes than in clean ones.
Commercial and Industrial Water Softening
Water softening counteracts this issue. Industrial water softeners remove hard mineral ions from water, replacing them with (soft) sodium ions. This is known as the ion exchange process or sodium cation exchange. And unlike calcium, which comes out of solution when exposed to heat (thus creating build-up), salt stays in solution in high heat conditions.
The amount of salt necessary for the process is directly proportional to the water’s hardness and the amount of water treated. The more minerals there are in your water, the more salt is used in the water softening process. The monetary cost of the salt can be allayed by buying in bulk, rather than smaller quantities. An industrial water softener salt savings calculator can determine estimated savings. Industrial brine reclaim systems and the use of 6 lb salting can also help reduce salt usage. Regardless of your salt usage, it is the least expensive commercial and industrial boiler chemical used and doesn’t pose a health hazard.
Commercial and Industrial Dealkalization
Alkalinity is another factor that limits boiler efficiency in commercial and industrial water systems. In between the commercial or industrial boiler and the water softener, an industrial water dealkalizer can be installed. When boilers produce steam – which is pure water – alkalinity ions left in the remaining water become more concentrated. All boilers have a maximum alkalinity limit.
As commercial or industrial boilers reach their alkalinity limits, they discharge the highly concentrated water to stay under the maximum alkalinity limits in a process called blow down. Commercial and industrial dealkalizers use anion resin to create an ion exchange similar to softeners, replacing offending ions with chloride ions, which reduce the boiler cycles and hence reduce blowdown. Reducing these cycles conserves water and energy. Please see our Boiler Savings Calculator for potential savings.
Commercial and Industrial Reverse Osmosis
Installing an industrial reverse osmosis system is another option in industrial boiler pre-treatment water purification – removing 99% of the TDS (total dissolved solids). Water is forced through semi-permeable membranes using high pressure. There is no exchange in this process, ions are simply stripped from the water molecules when they pass through the reverse osmosis membrane. This method of treating the water before the boiler results in the least amount of water and energy loss in the boiler. It also nearly eliminates very expensive boiler water treatment chemicals.
Water softening is always the first course of action in proper commercial and industrial boiler operations. Without it, you’re simply wasting water, energy and chemicals. Dealkanization and reverse osmosis are optional, though highly recommended equipment to ensure optimal efficiency. Contact an industrial water services professional to find out the most cost effective treatment of your water for a good ROI on your industrial water investment.