Boiler Blowdown

Power plant boilers are either of the once-through or drum-type design. Once-through boilers operate under supercritical conditions and have no wastewater streams directly associated with their operation. Drum-type boilers operate under subcritical conditions where steam generated in the drum-type units is in equilibrium with the boiler water. Boiler water impurities are concentrated in the liquid phase. Boiler blowdown serves to maintain concentrations of dissolved and suspended solids at acceptable levels for boiler operation. The sources of impurities in the blowdown are the intake water, internal corrosion of the boiler, and chemicals added to the boiler. Phosphate is added to the boiler to control solids deposition.

In modern high-pressure systems, blowdown water is normally of better quality than the water supply. This is because plant intake water is treated using clarification, filtration, lime/lime soda softening, ion exchange, evaporation, and in a few cases reverse osmosis to produce makeup for the boiler feedwater. The high-quality blowdown water is often reused within the plant for cooling water makeup or it is recycled through the water treatment and used as boiler feedwater.

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