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Boiler Basics 101: Importance of Proper Water Treatment

Learning and performing proper water treatment will protect your boiler system from tube damage and corrosion, and can also contribute to maximizing boiler efficiency. In this edition of Boiler Basics 101, we will discuss the consequences of improper water treatment and how to implement a proper water treatment plan.

If feedwater is not treated properly before entering the boiler, a chemical imbalance can initiate the formation of scale. Scale is the accumulation of mineral deposits, primarily calcium and magnesium, on the internal surfaces of the boiler.  These minerals have the potential to precipitate from the water and bond to surfaces, creating a layer that may result in harm to boiler tubes, reduced boiler efficiency, and potential for ruptures. Proper water treatment methods, such as the use of water softeners and deaerators, reverse osmosis, and chemical additives to condition the water, must be employed to prevent scale formation.

  1. A water softener will remove the calcium and magnesium content in the boiler’s water supply. This effectively “softens” the water before it enters a boiler and removes the minerals that are often the cause of scale in a boiler.
  2. A deaerator should be utilized to mechanically remove oxygen from the water before it enters the boiler. This will prevent boiler tube failure.
  3. Reverse osmosis can also be used to aid your boiler. Reverse osmosis is a process that can be used in boiler water treatment to purify and condition the water by using pressure to filter out any hardness and impurities.
  4. Chemical treatment is also necessary to ensure proper water conditioning alongside the mechanical treatments listed above. Typically, the chemicals used for treatment purposes are an oxygen scavenger, scale inhibitor, and an amine to treat the steam system piping.

It is important to note that from a rental perspective, it is the customer’s responsibility to maintain the water treatment conditions of their rental boiler to avoid equipment damage and additional repair charges that can result from improper water treatment procedures. It is recommended that the services of a reputable boiler chemical consultant are retained in order to supervise the water treatment conditions on a regular basis. Weekly tasks should include maintaining daily boiler logs, conducting chemical treatment tests, providing a report from the chemical treatment consultant, and sharing maintenance records with your rental boiler supplier.

All boilers are subject to damage if proper water treatment procedures are not followed. This is an important consideration both during operation and when the boiler is idle. Maintaining a water treatment plan will not just extend your boiler’s lifespan and the durability of its components, but it will also facilitate long-term cost savings. It is an investment that pays off in the form of lower energy costs, fewer repairs, reduction of costly down time, and compliance with regulations; all contributing to long-term cost savings.

Make sure to explore our earlier Boiler Basics 101 articles and keep an eye out for the upcoming edition!
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Boiler Basics 101: Common Rental Boilers on the Market

The boiler rental business began over fifty years ago, solving multiple industries’ need for temporary and emergency steam. Nationwide Boiler was at the forefront of the boiler rental industry, starting off with one of the first mobile rental boilers; a 20,000 lb/hr, 300 psig design, O-type package watertube boiler. This boiler was designed for permanent use on a highway-legal open deck trailer, making it a true mobile boiler. This new idea allowed companies to cut capital costs, save time, and be more efficient in their operations. Now, rental boilers are available for small-scale projects to industrial sized applications.

In last month’s edition of Boiler Basics 101, we discussed why rental boilers are a great choice for boiler owners in a variety of industries. To continue the topic, we will now discuss the different types of rental boilers currently on the market.

Trailer-Mounted Boilers

  • Permanently installed on highway-legal trailers for easy transport by truck
  • Boilers of various sizes up to 125,000 lb/hr, both saturated and superheated steam
  • Detachable goosenecks and booster extensions allow for easy removal when space is limited
  • Not protected from the weather and precautions must be taken for freeze protection (heat tracing and insulation or temporary housing shelters)
  • Separate feedwater and water treatment systems and other auxiliaries can be provided to support the boiler, as needed

Skid-Mounted Boilers

  • Shop-assembled package boilers, without any true mobility
  • Available in capacities up to 250,000 lb/hr
  • Depending on the size of the boiler, skid-mounted boilers can be transported on a flat-bed trailer, step-deck trailer, or by rail
  • Cranes and/or forklifts typically required for both loading and offloading
  • Not protected from the weather and precautions must be taken for freeze protection (heat tracing and insulation or temporary housing shelters)
  • Separate feedwater and water treatment systems and other auxiliaries can be provided to support the boiler, as needed

Containerized Mobile Boilers

  • Typically includes a package firetube boiler, installed inside a container and mounted on a chassis for mobility
  • Ideal for users who need a boiler-only package that is weatherproofed for outdoor operation in the wintertime
  • Separate feedwater and water treatment systems and other auxiliaries can be provided to support the boiler, as needed

Mobile Boiler Rooms

  • Complete steam plants, self-contained within enclosed vans, with all equipment required to produce steam:
    • *Package firetube boiler
    • Atmospheric feedwater system
      • * Water softener
      • Chemical injection tank
      • * Blowdown separator
  • Typically available in capacities up to 1,000 hp
  • Weatherproofed and better suited than alternatives for outdoor operation in the wintertime

Mobile Steam Plants

  • Similar to a mobile boiler room, with all equipment required to produce steam
  • Equipment is installed on an open, step-deck trailer
  • Not protected from the weather and precautions must be taken for freeze protection (heat tracing and insulation or temporary housing shelters)

Transportable Steam Plants

    • Complete steam plant, normally built inside of a standard 20 or 40’ shipping container
    • Available with either a vertical or a horizontal boiler arrangement depending on requirements
    • Cranes typically required for both loading and offloading
    • These systems accommodate less capacity than a mobile boiler room
    • Popular for overseas and government projects, due to ease of transportation 

Each type of rental boiler system explained above has their own unique advantage and may be better fit for one user over another. The requirements of operation, however, are the same: end-users must supply a fuel source (natural gas, #2 oil, propane, or other fuel), electrical power supply, and make-up water. Which type of rental system is best fit for your unique operation?

Nationwide Boiler maintains an inventory inclusive of all types of boilers listed above, ranging in size from 47.5 hp to 200,000 lb/hr. Visit our website to find a complete listing of rental boilers available, and contact a Nationwide Boiler Sales Representative for additional details and pricing. 1-800-227-1966

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Rental Rundown: Why a Rental Boiler and How We Can Help

Established in 1967 by late founder and pioneer Dick Bliss, Nationwide Boiler began with a mission to provide mobile, temporary boilers to steam users during planned and unplanned boiler outages. At the time, our rental fleet wasn’t much of a ‘fleet’ and consisted of just one 20,000 lb/hr trailer-mounted, O-type watertube boiler. Throughout the years, our inventory has grown to consist of over 100 rental boilers and related equipment, all with various specifications and capabilities. And with multiple storage locations throughout the country, we are capable of shipping our boilers to customers not just nationwide, but worldwide.

With a goal of being the #1 emergency boiler supplier, we understand the importance of educating steam users on emergency preparedness and the benefits of utilizing a rental boiler not just during emergencies, but also during planned outages and periods of high demand.

Reasons to Rent a Boiler

  • Unforeseeable Situations
    •  A boiler shuts down unexpectedly, needing maintenance and/or repairs
    •  Disasters and natural causes that lead to a temporary steam need

Nationwide Boiler has come to the rescue in many emergency situations. One notable instance was the tragedy on September 11th, 2001, where we responded quickly to assist ConEd with the supply of heat to New York city. 

  • Increase in Demand
    • Companies face periods of increased demand due to varying factors, requiring additional steam capacity

Nationwide Boiler has a great deal of experience renting boilers when additional steam is needed. In fact, we have an annual rental with a tomato processing company to support their seasonal increase in demand.

  • Planned Outages or Repairs
    • Annual boiler inspections or routine repairs that require a temporary steam source while a facility boiler is taken offline

Nationwide Boiler has over 50 years of experience in providing boilers and related equipment for companies that have planned outages and need temporary steam.

  • Capital Resources
    • A company has budgetary restrictions and is unable to invest in a new boiler
    • Nationwide Boiler has a large inventory of 100+ rental boilers. We provide rental programs that are flexible to a company’s budget, and can assist with financing options.

 Whatever the reason for renting a boiler may be, make sure to rent from the best. Nationwide Boiler provides value with reliable equipment and top-notch customer service, and customer needs are always our priority.

Check out our recent article in Chemical Processing’s Steam System eHandbook for additional details on putting a contingency plan in place and forestalling your next steam system outage.

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Rental Boiler Considerations - Save Time, Save Money and Minimize Risks

Companies require rental equipment for several reasons. By understanding the rental process and following the guidelines below, it is possible that the result will be both cost-effective and technically successful.

Steam Requirements - Up front planning is the most important stage when renting equipment. First, the maximum potential steam load needed must be calculated. Your steam requirement is expressed in either boiler horsepower (hp) or lb/hr (one boiler horsepower is equal to 34.5 lb/hr steam at 212°F).

Accessible Location - A location must be selected that is easily accessible for the delivery and setting of heavy machinery and one which has easy access to the building or equipment in which the steam will be required.

Utility Connections & Supply - Fuel, water and electric power connections must be easy to access and are of sufficient size to meet the needs of the rental unit. Typically, rental boilers fire natural gas, No. 2 oil, or heated No. 6 fuel. It is also important to make sure that there is sufficient fuel capacity to supply any existing units and a temporary boiler.

Equipment Supplier - When evaluating a supplier of rental equipment it is important to know if the company is a full-time, dedicated rental company with the experience, equipment and capabilities you require. In addition, the location of the company's equipment is important, helping to minimize transportation costs and travel time. It is also important to determine if the company provides start-up and installation services.
Here at Nationwide, we have boilers located throughout the United States and our service department is available 24 hours a day for technical support.

Reputable rental companies will provide complete drawings and equipment specifications in considerable detail. Such items include the total capacity and operating characteristics of the boiler, water treatment needs and requirements, emissions requirements, weather protection, performance testing, and ASME code requirements.

Proposal Evaluation - When evaluating a proposal, normal factors including payment terms, change-of-scope clauses, liability coverage, and transportation costs need to be addressed. A well written proposal should address the rate and term on the rental unit, freight costs, time and travel charges for technicians, and should specify appropriate responsibility for installation and removal costs. You should also get the warranty statement for the rental equipment.

Operating Permits - Before installation of the equipment can occur, it is necessary to arrange for any operating permits required from regulatory agencies. This includes special permits that may be required in those areas where emission limits are strictly controlled. Areas in California including the San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast require sub-10 ppm NOx requirements.

Nationwide Boiler took the lead in equipping our units with Low NOx burners and SCR systems (the CataStak). Users facing 5 ppm NOx can rest assure that we have an immediate solution.

Maintenance - To ensure continuous, safe, and trouble free performance of the unit, there are a number of regular checks and maintenance tasks which must be performed. It is important that a log sheet be kept on site for the recording of every routine check and maintenance items completed. Daily checks include an examination of all safety devices, followed by an inspection of the low-water cutoff during every shift. The entire system should also be checked for leaks and corrected immediately. The flame pattern of the burner must also be inspected to make sure the combustion devices are working efficiently. Moreover, proper boiler performance is highly dependent on following the proper feedwater treatment and correct blowdown techniques. Failure to maintain proper water chemistry is a major cause of damage to rental boilers and the single biggest rehabilitation expense.

Return Shipment - Lastly, there are certain steps that must be taken to ensure safe return of a unit to the rental company's facility. It is the responsibility of the user to have plant or local boiler shop personnel disconnect equipment after use, which includes draining and flushing all boiler lines with clean water to help minimize any chance of corrosion. A final check of the condition of the boiler should be properly documented, recorded and sent to the rental company once the equipment is shipped.

As long as you plan in advance, budget accordingly, verify connection sizes, address permitting issues, properly train operators, frequently monitor the feedwater quality, and take responsibility in maintaining the equipment once it is installed, you can be confident that the risks associated with renting equipment will be minimized and that your project will be a success.
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