shutterstock_317580257Water (and pure chemicals) are the lifeblood of all nuclear, fossil fueled, combined cycle, and cogeneration power plants. For example, in the U.S., thermoelectric power producers use more than 50 trillion gallons of water per year, according to current estimations. (Here is a still-relevant 2005 report, titled, Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource detailing some of the challenges of water usage by power plants put out by the Energy and Water in a Warming World (EW3) Initiative.)

As a result, water purity is a constant concern for power plants, and the water is constantly monitored to prevent corrosion or scaling which can result in upsets, leaks, boiler tube failures, and carryover leading to plant down time or shutdowns. Accurate water monitoring is critical to cut down the need to replace economizer tubes, the cost of replacement power, and chemical cleaning. Ion chromatography (IC), developed by Dionex which is now a part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, has been long considered a fundamental technique for monitoring water quality with respect to corrosive ions. Anions, cations, transition metals, silica, and boron can be monitored in raw water, demineralizer influent/effluent, process steam, boiler feedwater, boiler blowdown water, high & low pressure steam condensate, and condensate polisher water.

With the introduction of capillary IC last year, you now have the ability to analyze samples at capillary, microbore, or standard flow rates (or any combination of two, in a dual system). The key advantages of capillary IC is simplifying IC analysis while simultaneously increasing the power and reproducibility of ion analysis, leaving the system on and ready to run samples anytime. (The Eluent Generation cartridge producing the eluent lasts for 18 months under continuous operation).

UPDATE: April 20, 2012: We recently released Application Brief 125, Determination of Trace Levels of Inorganic Anions in High-Purity Water Using Capillary Ion Chromatography, (downloadable PDF) describing the use of a standard autosampler to preconcentrate the 100–500 µL samples typically used for trace level analysis with a capillary IC system. This method is easier and faster than concentrating the 10–50 mL sample required for standard-bore format systems.

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In case you have not switched over to capillary IC, check out our existing IC application notes and technical note (downloadable PDFs).

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