Plant operators could be wasting thousands of pounds in fuel because their water treatment supplier is failing to monitor the phosphate levels of raw water for their steam systems. And the situation could get worse as water utilities strive to meet tightening European drinking water regulations.
According to the European Drinking Water Directive, water supplies must not exceed 25 microgrammes of lead per litre of water, reducing to 10 microgrammes from 25 December 2013. To meet these limits, water utilities commonly dose water with phosphate to inhibit lead from old pipes leeching into the water supply.
However, many steam system operators may not be taking account of these added phosphates, so are not adjusting their water treatment regime accordingly. Consequently, excessive phosphate levels could cause scaling of the internal surfaces of steam boilers, reducing their efficiency significantly.