Coal, Emissions

The 56th International Water Conference

Issue 1 and Volume 101.

The 56th International Water Conference


I recently had the opportunity to attend the 56th annual International Water Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. This conference was truly international and provided much information to power plant chemists, A/E personnel and vendors. The technical sessions, which were held in four separate meeting rooms, comprised 13 general categories:

1. chemical cleaning,

2. industrial water systems,

3. steam-cycle chemistry,

4. biocides,

5. reverse osmosis (RO),

6. -equilibrium phosphate boiler water treatment,

7. nuclear water technology,

8. -economics of water treatment,

9. -international boiler water treatment,

10. ion exchange,

11. -cooling water treatment developments,

12. -on-line boiler water monitoring and control and

13. wastewater treatment.

The sessions were interesting and thought provoking. In a boiler water chemistry session, Barry Dooley of the Electric Power Research Institute presented an excellent review and update of the various boiler water treatment programs that are popular in the United States today. Dooley preceded several international speakers who outlined water treatment developments in other areas of the world. The diversity of ideas was truly stimulating, although everyone was not always in total agreement.

At another boiler water chemistry session, a well-respected utility representative who has performed much research into equilibrium phosphate treatment stated quite clearly that coordinated/congruent phosphate programs had outlived their usefulness, regardless of boiler pressure. From my own experience as a utility chemist and engineer and from that of my colleagues in the industry, I have seen congruent phosphate programs successfully applied (with minimal phosphate hideout and superb boiler tube integrity) for many years, even in some 2,400 psig units. What this example really illustrates is that chemical program and/or treatment equipment modifications should be evaluated case by case, where plant personnel base any decision on careful sampling and monitoring of steam, boiler water, condensate/feedwater and makeup water chemistry.

Other sessions proved equally informative. Makeup treatment authors provided new data and ideas about ion exchange resins and RO systems. RO technology continues to improve with the development of higher quality membranes that still have high salt rejection yet operate at lower pressures. (Membranes that give 99 percent or better salt rejection at 100 to 150 psi pressure are becoming available.)

Several very good papers were presented on zero discharge technologies and their practical results. Selecting the most appropriate zero discharge method can be very tricky, and practical experiences are often helpful. Other papers on ion exchange, on-line monitoring, and cooling water and wastewater treatment were also very informative.

The conference also provided a forum for some interesting vendor demonstrations. Dow, Glegg and Osmonics are all developing computer programs to better calculate equipment size and economics for RO systems, and Dow is also developing a similar ion exchange program. Bayer exhibited a working demonstration unit that showed the principle behind its packed-bed ion exchange process, and Eco-Tec provided illustrations of its short-cycle ion exchange systems. Chemical treatment firms such as BetzDearborn, Drew Industrial and Nalco have refined their tracer techniques or other control methods for better boiler water and cooling water chemistry control. It was apparent that vendors are not content to just wait for things to happen. Instead, they are looking for methods to improve their products and make them more competitive in the power and industrial markets, which are becoming very competitive as well.

I spoke with utility personnel who thought the papers were more practical than they have been in the past and offered information that was immediately applicable. I also heard satisfactory comments about the vendors. Apparently the diversity of vendors was broad enough to allow utility chemists and engineers to discuss any problem or treatment scheme. Conference organizers also claimed that one-third of the pre-registrants were end users. This is certainly a good ratio of industry personnel to clients and definitely enhances the strength of the conference.

I would encourage all who deal with water chemistry at power plants or industrial steam-generating facilities to consider attending a future International Water Conference.