Boiler water treatment for the food and beverage industry
So, what is different about chemical treatment of boilers at food plants?
The chemical boiler treatment of boilers used in the food and beverage industry is for the most part similar to the treatment demands of any industrial boiler. The chemical treatment program should address the basic needs of corrosion and scale control in the boiler, along with minimizing carryover of boiler water into steam.
Where food plants require special water treatment attention is where live steam is used in the food manufacturing process. “Culinary” steam is used for direct injection into the product or to clean or sterilize product contact surfaces.
In non-food boiler systems, it is a common practice to add volatile corrosion inhibitors to the boiler which will produce a gas or vapor that carries over with the generated steam to provide corrosion protection after boiler pipework. Unfortunately, many of the volatile compounds used in these inhibitors have been implicated as potential carcinogens which render them unacceptable for use in food plants with culinary steam, while a handful of volatile components have received approval for restricted use based on steam and condensate monitoring at very low tolerance levels.
Any chemical additive in culinary steam must meet all applicable food regulation requirements for human consumption. Many food plants in the dairy industry, for example, take a conservative approach, and will allow only non-volatile chemical boiler treatments. A number of organizations such as the FDA will certify product approvals or chemical constituents to minimize the pitfalls of using or selecting an inappropriate boiler chemical for food plants. Despite having general product approvals for the food industry, it is important that the chemical treatment provider has adequate knowledge of the toxicity and application of their product to provide informed advice on the correct application of the chemical treatment product for each process in the food plant.
Content provided by Spirax Sarco, originally published in Steam News Magazine.