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Power Firms ‘Spending $4.8bn on Water Chemicals in 2013’

Electric utility power generators will spend more than $4.8 billion for water and wastewater treatment chemicals in 2013, according to a report published by the McIlvaine Company.

Water and Wastewater Treatment Chemicals: World Market says the largest expenditures will be for corrosion ($2.413 billion) and scale inhibitors ($1.356 billion) used in the boiler feedwater circuit. Other expenditures include flocculants, used in cooling water treatment, boiler feedwater treatment and to treat wastewater.

The limestone and lime used for SO2 capture in scrubbing systems are not included in this total. Also not included are ammonia and urea used for NOx removal.

The forecast says the market is growing at double-digit rates in Asia because of the construction of many new coal-fired power plants. In the US and Europe, however, market growth will be low due to several factors. Some coal-fired capacity is being replaced with renewables such as wind and solar, which do not require treatment chemicals. Combined cycle gas turbine plants require considerably less water and, therefore, fewer treatment chemicals than do coal-fired power plants.

According to the 2013 forecast, many plants are opting to use treated municipal wastewater as a source for cooling and boiler feedwater. This requires chemicals to remove biological and chemical contaminants. Additionally, the report predicts growth in the use of geothermal energy, and says these plants use large amounts of scale inhibitors.

A Duke University-led study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment Science & Technology in October found scrubbers and other technologies used to cut harmful emissions from power plants have increased the risk of downstream water contamination. Researchers, who collected and analyzed more than 300 water samples from 11 North Carolina lakes and rivers for the study, found high levels of arsenic, selenium and other toxic elements in coal ash effluents downstream from the settling ponds of coal-fired power plants.

A report released earlier the same month by the Electric Power Research Institute warned that current and pending EPA power plant regulations could cost the US economy up to $275 billion between 2010 and 2035 if the regulatory timeline is followed.

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