WATER TRETMENT: HOT ZEOLITE SOFTENING
Zeolite softeners can be used to remove residual hardness in the effluent from a hot process lime or lime-soda softener. The hot process effluent flows through filters and then through a bed of strong acid cation resin in the sodium form . The equipment and operation of a hot zeolite softener is identical to that of an ambient temperature softener, except that the valves, piping, controllers, and instrumentation must be suitable for the high temperature (220-250 o F). Standard strong cation resin can be used at temperatures of up to 270 o F, but for a longer service life a premium gel or macroreticular resin is recommended. When operating a zeolite system following a hot process softener, it is important to design the system to eliminate flow surges in the hot lime unit. Common designs include the use of backwash water storage tanks in the hot lime unit and extended slow rinses for the zeolite in lieu of a standard fast rinse.
Applications and Advantages
Scale and deposit buildup in boilers and the formation of insoluble soap curds in washing operations have created a large demand for softened water. Because sodium zeolite softeners are able to satisfy this demand economically, they are widely used in the preparation of water for low and medium pressure boilers, laundries, and chemical processes. Sodium zeolite softening also offers the following advantages over other softening methods:
· treated water has a very low scaling tendency because zeolite softening reduces the hardness level of most water supplies to less than 2 ppm
· operation is simple and reliable; automatic and semiautomatic regeneration controls are available at a reasonable cost
· salt is inexpensive and easy to handle
· no waste sludge is produced; usually, waste disposal is not a problem
· within certain limits, variations in water flow rate have little effect on treated water quality
· because efficient operation can be obtained in units of almost any size, sodium zeolite softeners are suitable for both large and small installations
Although sodium zeolite softeners efficiently re-duce the amount of dissolved hardness in a water supply, the total solids content, alkalinity, and silica in the water remain unaffected. A sodium zeolite softener is not a direct replacement for a hot lime-soda softener. Plants that have replaced their hot process softeners with only zeolite softeners have experienced problems with silica and alkalinity levels in their boilers.
Because the resin is such an efficient filter, sodium zeolite softeners do not function efficiently on turbid waters. Continued operation with an influent turbidity in excess of 1.0 JTU causes bed fouling, short service runs, and poor effluent quality. Most city and well waters are suitable, but many surface supplies must be clarified and filtered before use.
The resin can be fouled by heavy metal contaminants, such as iron and aluminum, which are not removed during the course of a normal regeneration. If excess iron or manganese is present in the water supply, the resin must be cleaned periodically. Whenever aluminum coagulants are used ahead of zeolite softeners, proper equipment operation and close control of clarifier pH are essential to good softener performance.
Strong oxidizing agents in the raw water attack and degrade the resin. Chlorine, present in most municipal supplies, is a strong oxidant and should be removed prior to zeolite softening by activated carbon filtration or reaction with sodium sulfite.