Huge Development in Power Generation Market: New Study finds a Solution to unclog power plant pipes

Posted On June 01, 2021     

Salt is present in all water, and as the water starts to evaporate, it takes the form of crystallized salt. These twisted mineral crystals come in many shapes and sizes and are the leading cause of the presence of slightly salty water in power plant pipes. They are a big problem for the industrial sector. These salt and mineral deposits plague power plants responsible for converting heat into electricity and thus need gallons of water to cool down their systems.

Generally, a power plant deploys billions of gallons of water each year to achieve this. It has been noticed that even the cleanest of water contains traces of salt and other pesky deposits. Thus, it costs the world’s power plants to spend nearly $100 billion as workers have to purge the pipes and scrub the crystals from filters.

In a recent study, a research team has proposed a way in which Engineers can reduce the damage to the power plants. This can be done by coating the insides of the pipes with textured, water-repellant surfaces. This would be a massive development for Power Generation Market as now power plants would have an easy and efficient way to deal with these crystallized minerals. Thus, reducing the loss associated with them.

For this research, the team used a novel idea. The idea focuses on the surfaces where these salt drops get cooled instead of the drops themselves.  New research suggests that the texture of a material’s surface and super small scales (Micro and nano-meter level) is responsible for changing the shape of the salt crystals that form as the water slowly evaporates. Surfaces that have micro-sized wells facilitate water to flatten and spread out, in turn clogging the surface with crystals. However, nano-sized gaps compel the crystals to have upward growth instead. Thus, creating the deposits of shapes that resemble elephants and jellyfish. These “crystal critters” are of a distinct shape and can be easily removed; in fact, at times, they even drift away on their own accord.

In this study, researchers experimented with the timing of heat applied to the water and successfully made the crystals “walk and roll” away. Through constant fiddling between the three variables of crystal sizes, surface textures, and temperatures, engineers might be able to design such power plants that can prevent the build-up of materials and might even be able to cool the plants with saltwater in place of freshwater.

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