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Environmental, Health & Safety :: Environmental Management :: Water Treatment & Supply

April 1, 2011

Biodegradation and Testing of Scale Inhibitors

Progress is being made toward better-performing and more-biodegradable scale inhibitors for water treatment

Kelly Harris, BWA Water Additives Ltd.

Mixing, heating, concentrating and evaporating water often results in an accumulation of inorganic scale, which can markedly decrease process-system efficiency. Scale inhibitors act to reduce or prevent the formation of scale. Over the past several decades, the water treatment industry has been increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of scale inhibitors. The long list of available scale inhibitors includes several newer chemicals that are designed for biodegradability. As the water treatment industry focuses on producing efficient scale-prevention products that minimize harm to the environment, practitioners in the CPI face questions about which scale inhibitors to use. As scale-inhibition products continue to improve in both areas, water users in the CPI must take into consideration the lowered environmental persistence of scale-inhibiting substances as well as their scale-inhibiting performance. Questions still remain about whether the new class of “green” products are effective scale inhibitors....

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