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  delta  Cascade   Design Associates Inc.

          Engineering solutions for industry.



Process Improvement:

We specialize in energy systems, power cycle chemistry and water treatment, for any industry.  Although utility systems may not be a profit centre, paying attention to your utility systems can yield attractive returns.  The US Department of Energy has stated that an energy audit and improvement program for a typical industrial facility can save 20% in steam related costs.  In the USA alone, this would save US$4 Billion dollars per year and avoid approximately 32 million tonnes of emissions reduction.  

Typical savings that we can help your organization achieve include:

  • 10-12% improvement by improving water treatment program to prevent formation of insulating boiler scale.
  • Minimizing stack gas energy losses (improve boiler efficiency by 1% for each 15% reduction in excess air or 1.3% reduction in oxygen, or, for each 40 degrees F stack gas temperature reduction).
  • Improve recovery of condensate and it's heat content.
  • 10-15% energy savings can be realized when steam traps are actively maintained.
  • 2-5% with boiler and auxiliary equipment tune-ups.
  • 3-13% savings may be realized with improved insulation.
  • Cooling water system audit and tune-up may improve heat transfer rates and heat exchanger water side cleanliness to increase plant production rates, extend equipment life, and virtually eliminate downtime for heat exchanger cleaning.

Quantification of the savings opportunity is a key first step towards achieving your plant's full potential.  Often this is not done as water and energy costs appear small on a company's balance sheet, and many may see it as an uncontrollable cost of doing business.  Utility operation reliability is of much higher importance.  Implementation of efficiency improvements typically also enhance the system's reliability.  We will help you to reduce costs and improve reliability to help achieve your plant's full potential.


For new assets,  utility system detailed design work typically begins last, yet construction must be completed first.  Design activity is concentrated within a short time frame, requiring increased staff hours for a short period.  This is a key time, as up to 80% of a project's capital expenditure is typically determined at this stage.  Significant savings can be realized, by applying specialized experience early in the project phases.  At this in the design, DeltaCascade's service provides the highest value.

Water systems are essential to industrial installations, whether it be influent water, boiler water, steam or condensate, cooling water, process water, or wastewater systems.  Used as a heating or a cooling agent or as a feed stock, effective design and operation of water systems is likely critical to your operations.  

Yet, in most industries, as water related systems are typically not identified as profit centres,  water related opportunities for improvement are often overlooked.  DeltaCascade can help you identify and quantify undiscovered opportunity for improvement, often of significant proportion.

Process Improvement Services (Operating Facilities)

Water System Audits for Process Improvement Opportunity Identification  Influent Water Systems
Boiler Water, Steam and Condensate Systems
Cooling Water Systems
Wastewater Systems
Energy System Audits for Process Improvement Steam system audit to optimise energy use and water use (eg:  minimize venting)
Scale and corrosion protection enhancement
Integration Opportunities Site energy and water system mass balance modelling, needs assessment, improvement opportunity identification and implementation
Plant Start-up and Shutdown/Turnaround Assistance Chemical cleaning and passivation coordination
Equipment Lay-up
Training Operator Process Training
Statistical Process Control and Quality Improvement
Procedures and Manuals Development
Process Design, Procurement and Construction Implementation of Identified Improvement Opportunities

Typical Benefits

Increased Revenue Increase plant production rates
Extend run time between shutdowns
Improve plant reliability
Improve process input quality

Reduced Costs

Reduce chemical and mechanical inputs
Reduce process waste
Improved Environmental Performance Reduce effective greenhouse gas emissions
Improve plant effluent water quality
Reduce plant effluent water quantity
Reduce plant water demand



Pipe ScaleSample Water System Opportunities:

Influent Water Systems

Influent water quality and treatment is key to effective, optimal operation of all downstream equipment.  Problems and opportunities encountered might include:


  • Supply Water:  If supply water quality varies, such as with river water intakes during seasonal run-offs or storms, seasonal adjustments to process operations may be required.  This maybe as simple as drawing from holding ponds instead of river during peak spring-run off periods, or changing a cold lime softener to clarification only mode by interruption of lime feed.  Backwash rates of filters and other packed beds such as ion exchange vessels, must be reduced in winter and increased in summer to account for temperature and viscosity changes.  A system audit may uncover some simple improvements that may have been overlooked.

  • Clarification:  If you clarify influent water, and have poor or variable performance, a clarifier audit may be of value.  Audits will review operating practice identifying improvements, in areas such as:  water flow control, temperature control, chemical feed control, sludge level control and chemical treatment regime.  Pilot tests or jar test studies can also be performed.


  • Lime Softening:  Performance improvement of these units greatly improve performance of downstream systems, such as demineralisers for boiler make-up water supply.  Lime slurry feed problems may present improvement opportunity.  One plant added heat exchange to raise softening temperature, which improves softening ability.  However, temperature control was overlooked, resulting in temperature inversions in the softener, and severe intermittent sludge carry-over problems.  Installing temperature control reduced average temperature increase, but alleviated the upset problem and improved overall performance.  As for clarification, an audit may enable significant improvement in asset performance.


  • Demineralisation:  Demineralisation plants are a work horse of industry.  As they operate in a semi-batch mode, they can be challenging to troubleshoot.  Performance degradation must be monitored, managed and minimised.  Ion exchange resins must be kept clean, and, particularly for anion resins, typically must be intermittently cleaned to minimise irreversible fouling.  Demin plant audits can identify needs and improvement opportunities, such as reducing wastewater production and reducing caustic and acid regenerant coonsumption.  Training courses can similarly assist.

One demin plant installation committed a simple act of discharging alkaline anion-regeneration waste to their neutralization sump prior to discharge of acidic cation-regeneration waste.  The result was a milky precipitation of alkaline salts which did not settle but did collect nearer to the bottom of the vessel.  This caused difficulty with waste water pH control, with additional caustic feed for neutralization. Downstream effluent ponds experienced mysterious pH rises during recirculation prior to discharge, due to slow re-dissolved of alkaline precipitates.   In addition to control problems, this led to costly dredging operations at effluent water ponds to be required..  A simple fix in the demin plant operation procedures, is to ensure that acidic waste is discharged to neutralization tank prior to alkaline waste.  This would avoid downstream pH control difficulties due to formation of alkaline flocc.

  • Reverse Osmosis or other treatment process may be required, particularly for high pressure boilers when supply water is high in colloidal silica or very high in dissolved solids.  Water quality control at and upstream of the RO system is key to optimal RO process operation, otherwise, membrane life may be reduced, and RO operation costs skyrocket.  Minimization of RO reject stream is also important to reduce wastewater production and related costs, balancing against shortened membrane life.


Boiler Water Systems

Steam cycle chemistry plays an important role in efficiency and reliability of boiler systems, as well as steam and condensate systems.  If boiler tube failures are interrupting your production or extending your planned shutdown periods, you may benefit from a boiler water system audit.  Your problem may be as simple as oxygen saturated water contamination of condensate causing corrosion, and subsequent deposition of iron deposits on boiler tubes.  The insulating iron deposits lead to tube overheat and failure.

One facility was found to be using a low pressure boiler water treatment product for a higher pressure boiler with a steam super-heater and steam turbine which required high purity steam.  Super-heater tube failure frequency was increasing.  The treatment product contained phosphate treatment chemical in potassium, rather than the anticipated sodium, form.  Steam purity studies using standard sodium electrode procedure indicated acceptable steam purity.  Analysing for potassium, and then modifying the boiler water treatment program to use sodium based phosphate treatment, enabled a corrosive steam solids contamination to be identified and controlled through improved boiler water level control.

Cooling Water Systems

Evaporative cooling towers, while efficient heat sinks, and effective water conservers compared to once through cooling,  may be the largest water consumer and wastewater generator at your site.  While cooling systems are often designed to operate at about 8 cycles of concentration (12.5% blow-down), they can very often effectively operate at 12 cycles (8% blow-down) or higher.  This reduces raw water demand by over 4% and reduces wastewater production rate by approximately one third.  It may also reduce chemical treatment program costs.  In addition, cooling water systems present excellent opportunity for integration of processes to enable water recycle and re-use.  Treated sanitary waste water, a controlled amount of boiler blow down water, some demin plant waste waters, and other streams, may be used as cooling system make-up water, reducing raw water demand and wastewater production.

Cooling water flow mal-distribution is a common problem at industrial facilities.  Numerous heat exchangers and piping networks typically exist between cooling water supply and return headers.  Hence, flow restrictions at certain exchangers cannot typically be determined by monitoring pressure drop.  Flow restrictions may be difficult to identify unless equipment has a high level of instrumentation.  Equipment near the end of cooling water headers are particularly prone to becoming clogged with debris, as the debris has more difficulty taking corners, than following to the end of the pipe.  Cooling towers are essentially big air washers, so that small bore tube exchangers may become clogged following wind storms, and remain clogged with seeds, fluff, dirt and debris, with elevated fouling and corrosion rates, until serviced.  Resulting cooling water flow reduction reduces heat exchange rates.  More seriously, the accompanying low water velocity insidiously contributes to heat exchange surface fouling and under-deposit corrosion.  Corrosion products contaminate the entire system, compromising both corrosion control and scale control performance throughout the entire plant.  A cooling water flow survey with portable ultrasonic flow meter can be helpful to identify problem areas for correction.    Hydraulic analysis of the entire cooling water system piping network, particularly prior to system piping modifications or expansions, can help avoid problems of system fouling, under-deposit corrosion and heat transfer related production bottlenecks.  When designing side-stream filters, it may be prudent to have the filter feed water take-off from the re-circulating cooling water at the outside of any available pipe bends, to enhance capture of debris by the filters for the life of the plant.

Wastewater Systems

Minimization of waste water production is a primary opportunity for improving wastewater systems performance.  Optimising influent water treatment systems, and taking advantage of water re-use and recycle and other process integration opportunities, can pay significant benefit.

In addition to waste water process audit in itself, quality control of water feeding the waste treatment process presents another significant opportunity.  Eliminating slugs of impurities through process integration and, or, quality control programs can be highly effective.

Contact us if we can help with your water system questions, or participate with you in problem solving and process improvement work.

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