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A closed loop system would be from the chiller to the air handling units.

This loop
does not require continuous city water makeup, since all the circulated water
returns to the chiller.
Why should you check the water condition in the closed loop? After all, there
should not be any contaminants entering the water, as in a cooling tower open
loop. There is little or no makeup water.

The answer is that closed loop systems are susceptible to corrosion and low pH.
The presence of dissolved gases such as oxygen or carbon dioxide, microbiological
growth, or deposits of particulate matter is of concern and should be treated.
How do they get into the system?

When the system was initially filled, more than likely it was with city water. As the
water was cooled or heated, oxygen was released. If a new air handling unit is
connected into the system, it will introduce new water and air. If any part of the
piping was changed or modified, the fresh water will introduce and release oxygen.
Mill scale and other materials like weld slag that are not completely flushed out
during initial construction can be carried though the piping and end up in your
coils, pumps or chillers.
A biofilm microbiological growth can develop or grow from untreated water.

All of these problems may cause or contribute to one or more of the others.
Microbiological growth causes corrosion and contributes to fouling. Corrosion
causes fouling and provides an ideal environment for the growth of micro

Corrosion may lead to costly equipment repair or replacement and may cause
piping leaks. Fouling of coils and heat exchangers may decrease their heat transfer
Because the closed loop system does not require blow down or bleed off like a
cooling tower, with the daily chemical treatment and attention, the closed loop
often tends to be forgotten. A welldesigned and implemented plan should be part
of your maintenance program.
Depending on your system condition and water analysis, a chemical cleaning
maybe required. This will rid the system of any fouling materials, microbiological
growth and mill scale.
Once the loop is cleaned, a corrosion inhibitor will be selected by your water
treatment company. This inhibitor needs to be selected carefully to be sure it won’t
harm any of your system’s components—copper and steel pipes, bronze pump
impellers, rubber vibration isolators, and flange gaskets and “O” rings in valves.
The makeup water also should be analyzed.
A possible microbiocide maybe added if your system is susceptible to
microbiological growth.
A testing and monitoring program should be established to insure that your system
stays clean and free from corrosion and growths.

A relatively small amount of preventative maintenance will help in reducing costly

repairs and replacements of equipment and piping. And it will help maintain the
efficiency of your system.

The closed recirculating cooling water system evolved from methods used for the
cooling of early engine designs. In a closed system, water circulates in a closed
cycle and is subjected to alternate cooling and heating without air contact. Heat,
absorbed by the water in the closed system, is normally transferred by a water-to-
water exchanger to the recirculating water of an open recirculating system, from
which the heat is lost to atmosphere (Figure 32-1).
Closed recirculating cooling water systems are well suited to the cooling of gas
engines and compressors. Diesel engines in stationary and locomotive service
normally use radiator systems similar to the familiar automobile cooling system.
Other closed recirculating cooling applications include smelt spout cooling systems
on Kraft recovery boilers and lubricating oil and sample coolers in power plants.
Closed systems are also widely used in air conditioning chilled water systems to
transfer the refrigerant cooling to air washers, in which the air is chilled. In cold
seasons, the same system can supply heat to air washers. Closed water cooling
systems also provide a reliable method of industrial process temperature control.
Closed recirculating systems have many advantages. They provide better control of
temperatures in heat-producing equipment, and their small makeup water
requirements greatly simplify control of potential waterside problems. Makeup
water is needed only when leakage has occurred at pump packings or when water
has been drained to allow system repair. Little, if any, evaporation occurs.
Therefore, high-quality water can usually be used for makeup, and as a result, scale
deposits are not a problem. The use of high-quality water also minimizes the
dangers of cracked cylinders, broken heads, fouled exchangers, and other
mechanical failures. Closed systems are also less susceptible to biological fouling
from slime and algae deposits than open systems.
Closed systems also reduce corrosion problems drastically, because the
recirculating water is not continuously saturated with oxygen, as in an open
system. The only points of possible oxygen entry are at the surface of the surge
tank or the hot well, the circulating pump packings, and the makeup water. With
the small amount of makeup water required, adequate treatment can virtually
eliminate corrosion and the accumulation of corrosion products.
Some closed systems, such as chilled water systems, operate at relatively low
temperatures and require very little makeup water. Because no concentration of
dissolved solids occurs, fairly hard makeup water may be used with little danger of
scale formation. However, in diesel and gas engines, the high temperature of the
jacket water significantly increases its tendency to deposit scale. Over a long
period, the addition of even small amounts of hard makeup water causes a gradual
buildup of scale in cylinders and cylinder heads. Where condensate is available, it
is preferred for closed system cooling water makeup. Where condensate is not
available, zeolite softening should be applied to the makeup water.
An increase in water temperature causes an increase in corrosion. In a vented
system, this tendency is reduced by the decreased solubility of oxygen at higher
temperatures. This is the basis of mechanical deaeration.
Corrosion rates at increasing water temperatures for two different sets of
Curve A plots data from a completely closed system with no provision for the
venting of oxygen to atmosphere. Curve B shows data for a vented system. At up
to 170°F (77°C), the curves are essentially parallel. Beyond 170°F (77°C), curve
B drops off. This occurs because the lower solubility of oxygen with increasing
temperatures in a freely vented system decreases the corrosion rate faster than the
rise in temperature increases it. However, in many closed systems, the dissolved
oxygen entering the system in the makeup water cannot be freely vented, resulting
in the release of oxygen at points of high heat transfer, which may cause severe
Untreated systems can suffer serious corrosion damage from oxygen pitting,
galvanic action, and crevice attack. Closed cooling systems that are shut down
periodically are subjected to water temperatures that may vary from ambient to
180°F (82°C) or higher. During shutdown, oxygen can enter the water until its
saturation limit is reached. When the system is returned to high-temperature
operation, oxygen solubility drops and the released oxygen attacks metal
surfaces(Figure 32-1).
The metallurgy used in constructing modern engines, compressors, and cooling
systems includes cast iron, steel, copper, copper alloys, and aluminum as well as
solders. Nonmetallic components, such as natural or synthetic rubber, asbestos,
and carbon, are also used. If bimetallic couples are present, galvanic corrosion
may develop.
The three most reliable corrosion inhibitors for closed cooling water systems are
chromate, molybdate, and nitrite materials. Generally, the chromate or molybdate
types have proven to be superior treatments. For mixed metallurgy systems, the
molybdate inhibitors provide the best corrosion protection.
Chromate treatments in the range of 500-1000 ppm as CrO42¯ are satisfactory
unless bimetallic influences exist. When such bimetallic couples as steel and
copper are present, chromate treatment levels should be increased to exceed 2000
ppm. Maximum inhibitor effectiveness can be achieved if the pH of these systems
is kept between 7.5 and 9.5.
In a closed system, it can be quite difficult to prevent corrosion of aluminum and
its alloys; the pH of the water must be maintained below 9.0. Aluminum is
amphoteric-it dissolves in both acid and base, and its corrosion rate accelerates at
pH levels higher than 9.0. The bimetallic couple that is most difficult to cope with
is that of copper and aluminum, for which chromate concentrations even higher
than 5000 ppm may not be adequate.
Where circulating pumps are equipped with certain mechanical seals, such as
graphite, chromate concentrations may not exceed 250 ppm. This is due to the fact
that water leaking past the seals evaporates and leaves a high concentration of
abrasive salts that can damage the seal.
Another problem is encountered when chromate inhibitors are used in cooling
systems serving compressors that handle sour gas. If sour gas leaks from the
power cylinder into the water circuit, significant chromate reduction will occur,
causing poor corrosion control and deposition of reduced chromate.
In very high heat transfer rate applications, such as continuous caster mold
cooling systems, chromate levels should be maintained at 100-150 ppm
maximum. Under these extreme conditions, chromate can accumulate at the grain
boundaries on the mold, causing enough insulation to create equipment reliability
The toxicity of high-chromate concentrations may restrict their use, particularly
when a system must be drained frequently. Current legislation has significantly
reduced the allowable discharge limits and the reportable quantity for the spill of
chromate-based products. Depending on the type of closed system and the various
factors of State/Federal laws limiting the use of chromate, a nonchromate
alternative may be needed.
Molybdate treatments provide effective corrosion protection and an
environmentally acceptable alternative to chromate inhibitors. Nitrite- molybdate-
azole blends inhibit corrosion in steel, copper, aluminum, and mixed-metallurgy
systems. Molybdates are thermally stable and can provide excellent corrosion
protection in both soft and hard water. System pH is normally controlled between
7.0 and 9.0. Recommended treatment control limits are 200-300 ppm molybdate
as MoO42¯. Molybdate inhibitors should not be used with calcium levels greater
than 500 ppm.
Nitrite is another widely accepted nonchromate closed cooling water inhibitor.
Nitrite concentra-tions in the range of 600-1200 ppm as NO2- will suitably inhibit
iron and steel corrosion when the pH is maintained above 7.0. Systems containing
steel and copper couples require treatment levels in the 5000-7000 ppm range. If
aluminum is also present, the corrosion problem is intensified, and a treatment
level of 10,000 ppm may be required. In all cases, the pH of the circulating water
should be maintained in the alkaline range, but below 9.0 when aluminum is
present. When high nitrite levels are applied, acid feed may be required for pH
One drawback to nitrite treatments is the fact that nitrites are oxidized by
microorganisms. This can lead to low inhibitor levels and biological fouling. The
feed of nonoxidizing antimicrobial may be necessary to control nitrite reversion
and biological fouling.
Product performance data developed in laboratory studies simulating a mixed-
metallurgy closed cooling system identified steel and Admiralty corrosion rates
for three closed system inhibitors at increasing treatment levels. As shown, the
molybdate-based treatment provides the best overall steel and Admiralty
protection. To achieve similar inhibition with chromate, higher treatment
concentrations are required. Nitrite-based treatment also provides effective steel
protection, with results comparable to those obtained with molybdate; however,
acceptable Admiralty corrosion inhibition is not achieved.
Closed systems often require the addition of a suitable antifreeze. Nonchromate
inhibitors are compatible with typical antifreeze compounds. Chromates may be
used with alcohol antifreeze, but the pH of the circulating water should be
maintained above 7.0 to prevent chromate reduction. Because glycol antifreezes
are not compatible with chromate-based treatments, nonchromate inhibitors
should be used. Molybdate treatments should not be used with brine-type
In closed systems that continuously run at temperatures below 32°F (0°C), a
closed brine system is often employed. The American Society of Refrigeration
Engineers has established chromate limits in brine treatments. Calcium brines are
limited to 1250 ppm chromate, and sodium brines are limited to 2500 ppm
chromate. The pH should be 7.0-8.5 with caustic adjustment only. Some success
has also been recorded with nitrite-based treatment of closed brine systems at
treatment levels of about 2000 ppm as NO2¯

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