Corrosion

Corrosion is an electrochemical process that occurs when metal is immersed in water and a difference in electrical potential between different parts of the metal causes a current to pass through the metal between the region of lower potential (anode) and the region of higher potential (cathode). The migration of electrons from anode to cathode results in the oxidation of the metal at the anode and the dissolution of metal ions into the water.

Copper alloys are used extensively in power plant condensers, and as a result, copper can usually go into a corrosion product film or directly into solution as an ion or as a precipitate in the initial stages of condensation by tube corrosion. As corrosion products form and increase in thickness, the corrosion rate decreases until a steady state is achieved. Studies indicate that copper release is a function of flow rate more so than of the salt content of the makeup water.

Data on copper concentrations in both once-through cooling and recirculatory cooling systems indicate that corrosion products are more of a problem in cooling tower blowdown than in once-through systems discharge. The concentration of pollutants (via evaporation) in recirculating systems probably accounts for most of the difference in the level of metals observed between once-through discharge and cooling tower blowdown.

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