Water Treatment Questions

Q: Do you just sell the chemical or do you provide technical service also?

A: Industrial water treatment is a very specialized industry. The scale and corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and waste water polymers and coagulants would be of little or no value without the knowledge and experience to dispense them at the correct levels in the correct place and at the correct time. Applications such as steam boilers in food plants must be regulated correctly to prevent scale or corrosion of the internals but must also comply with FDA, USDA, Organic Certification, and even Kosher certifications. Spray Chem field representatives routinely call on our water treatment customers and sample the systems to perform tests which result in corrective actions and field reports. We set up our water treatment customers with their own test kits to perform daily tests which are reviewed by our representatives on a regular basis. For a water treatment program to be effective, there must be good communication between the customers' contact and our representative. It is this team effort that results in a successful cost effective treatment program.

Q: Do you have chemical feed systems or do you just provide the chemicals?

A: Most water treatment companies rely on feed pumps and controllers from equipment suppliers. Typically, pump manufacturers don't build controllers and controller manufacturers don't build pumps. This lack of continuity generally results in cobbled together feed systems that require constant modifications and adjustments. Spray Chem has overcome this limitation by designing and installing our own proprietary chemical control and feed equipment that is fully integrated. This results in a cost effective system that is reliable and easy to maintain.

Q: Can you service my existing equipment?

A: Yes, Spray Chem has years of experience in everything from stand alone chemical pumps to complex controllers that include ORP, pH control, flow, charting, and more. We stock many replacement parts for popular equipment such as Prominent, Liquid Metronics, Stenner, Signet, Seametrics, etc.

Q: The boiler inspector said our boiler is extremely scaled up can you help us?

A: Yes. When a boiler has developed scale it reduces its efficiency because the energy from the fire side cannot penetrate into the water. Instead all of the Btu's from the energy go up and out the stack This loss of heat transfer increases the operating cost and will eventually result in the loss of boiler tubes because of overheating and fatigue of the metal. Unless someone is monitoring the boiler water and feed water equipment the first indication that there is a problem is when the fire side develops a water leak from a ruptured tube. After the boiler is repaired the entire system must be reviewed to determine the cause of the failure. Before the boiler is put back into operation the cause of the problem must be identified and repairs or corrections must be performed to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem.

Q: Our cooling tower has growth in it that is plugging up our heat exchanger. What do we do?

A: If your heat exchanger is being fouled by organic material your biocide program needs review. This fouling can lead to high head pressures and overheating of your compressors or equipment. In addition to equipment fouling you could be atomizing aerosols with pathogenic microorganisms that can cause illness to anyone that come into contact with them. Spray Chem can inspect your system and make suggestions on improvements to eliminate this condition.

Q: We just had half of the tubes in our boiler replaced because of pitting corrosion. What do we do to keep from experiencing this again?

A: Pitting corrosion is an indication of oxygen in the feed water to your boiler. Typically, a boiler feed system includes a de-aerator. The de-aerators job is to remove oxygen from the feed water as it preheats. Remaining amounts of  oxygen are removed by a catalyzed sodium sulfite solution fed into the make up water. Even without a de- aerator oxygen can be removed by the addition of catalyzed sodium sulfite. It is important to maintain a residual of sulfite to ensure complete oxygen removal. Even small amounts of remaining oxygen can severely pit the metal surfaces in your boiler in a very short time.

Q: Our Organic certifier wants to know if the chemicals we use in the boiler are approved. Can you supply us with approved products?

A: When the Organic certifier asks if the boiler chemicals meet approval, an education of boiler operation is required. First of all, not all of the chemicals involved in boiler water treatment ever come into contact with products that are certified as organic. Typically a production steam boiler requires the use of three separate chemical components. All chemistry used to treat boilers where the steam may come into contact with edible foods is regulated by USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
The "water side treatment" usually consists of a mixture of scale and corrosion inhibitors that are non volatile. Non volatile means, under normal operating conditions these materials will remain in the water side and will not carry over with the steam. This is also true of most oxygen scavengers. The "steam line treatment" is typically an Amine type product that will carry over with the steam to protect the steam distribution and condensate return lines. It is this steam treatment that is of concern to the Organic Certifier. The important thing to remember when processing organically is to ensure the boiler is functioning properly to prevent unintended carry over of the non volatile treatments. This is done by frequent testing of the boiler blowndown, cooled steam, and condensate return. Very few steam line treatments are organically approved and must be discontinued during organic processing. In addition, a testing procedure must be able to demonstrate that the steam does not contain any non approved treatments. Spray Chem's boiler chemical feed systems include an organic processing mode.

Q: The cans coming out of our retort have water spots all over them. Can you help us solve this problem?

A: The spotting on cans after retort can come from two sources. A retort uses steam from your boiler to pasteurize food products through the packaging. A typical example would be a can of soup that has been filled and sealed and is now ready to be heated to a point that will kill all micro organisms that could grow in the can after sealing. If the steam from your boiler contains carryover the water will dry on the surfaces and leave behind the solids that were carried over with the steam. Good quality steam should have very little carry over except for the volatile amines that are intended to carry with the steam. The second source could be from the cooling water that is usually flooded into the retort during the cool down cycle. If this water is high in solids or hardness, it will leave spotting on the surface of the cans as it dries. It is easy to determine the source of the spotting with proper testing of the steam and cooling water.

Q: The nozzles for our conveyer lube are constantly plugging up with this white stuff. What's happening? Can you help us fix this problem?

A: Conveyor Lube is actually a water soluble solution that is sprayed onto conveyor belts that transport containers carrying food products. An example might be a 16-ounce glass bottle of fruit juice. Without the lubricity created by this solution the glass could tip over. The conveyor would also wear out sooner. It also lessens the friction when the line stops so that the load on the line does not overload the motor moving it. Nozzles are located strategically along a conveyor system to add the correct amount of lubricant continually during running. If the nozzle becomes clogged the lubricant will not be applied properly or at all, resulting in jams and tip over of the containers being conveyed. Usually this happens when the hardness of the feed water has not been calculated into the proper level of lube to water being dispensed. Softening the water is objectionable in most instances because soft water foams excessively causing creep of lube onto products and because of the danger of residual foam on the floor hiding broken glass. Most good lubricants contain chemical softeners that can be controlled by titration to prevent overfeed which results in excessive foaming or underfeed which will create calcium carbonate sludge that can plug the nozzles. Imagine having to clean a couple of hundred nozzles a few times per day or week. This job would get old very quickly. Proper selection of lubricant and dilution based on titration can resolve these problems.

Q: The boiler inspector said our stack temperature has been getting higher and higher according to our operators log. Is that bad?

A: Yes. This is very bad. It indicates a loss of heat transfer from the fire side of your boiler into the water. This is usually caused by building scale on the water side of your boiler from lack of quality water treatment. When scale is allowed to build on the water side it becomes an insulator. The Btu's of energy that are typically transferred from the heat source to the water are prevented from passing through the tube wall by the insulation and instead are simply lost out the exhaust stack of the boiler. This increases the "stack temperature" and indicates scale build up. A proper water treatment program can prevent this and resulting eventual boiler damage. Spray Chem can create a program for your specific boiler operation to prevent this from happening.