Energy & Refining

Power generation is the process of converting / trans­forming primary energy sources (e.g. oil, natural gas, and hydro) into easy-to-use and easy-to-transport energy (secondary energy), e.g. electricity. For that purpose, there are several methods of ge­ne­ra­ting elec­tri­city available such as power plants. The pro­ces­sing and refinement of primary energy sources relies on refineries.

Types of Water

  • Water influent
  • Water effluent
  • Process water
  • Cooling water
  • Surface water
  • Boiler feed water
  • Condensate return
  • Discharge control

Effective Process Control and Management of Water Cycles

Electricity generators are driven by thermal energy sources geothermal energy, nuclear power, chemical energy or mechanical energy of turbines (kinetic energy) from wind power and hydro power.

In petroleum refining, vapors are reduced to liquids in condensers and coolers are used to lower temperature of liquid porducts to permit safe handling. Principal processes are distillation, cracking, polymerization, alkylation as well as treating and finishing products. The quantity and quality of water required by the entire refinery and in individual operations are affected by the type of refinery process.

Major use of water in power generation and petroleum refinery is for

  • cooling (once-through or circulating water systems)
  • boiler feed for water-steam cycles
  • processing

Sources of water

  • surface water (rivers, lakes, ground water)
  • reused water (cooling cycles, condensate return, make-up water)

Large amounts of high-quality water are used by power plants and petroleum refineries to produce low- and high-pressure steam. Careful condiseration must be given to the selection and treatment of feed water to prevent plant failures and maintain high operational safety.

International and national authorities have defined guidelines with recommendations for a variety of quality parameters to maintain continuous monitoring of the water-cycles. For a safe plant operation the fast and reliable detection of contamination of water-cycles is crucial.

Organic contamination may lead to equipment and/or plant failures caused by

  • Corrosion
  • Sedimentation
  • Scale formation
  • Biological growth

Main source of organics (TOC) in water-cycles is make-up water. The less make-up water is used the lower the risk of contamination of cycle and the higher the benefit from re-use of contendate return and boiler feed water.

Organic compounds most relevant when using surface water for steam generation are

  • High molecular weight Neutrals (Polysaccharides)
  • Low molecular weight Neutrals (Alcohols, Aldehydes, Ketones)
  • Compounds containing heteroatoms or contain halogens, like chlorine

Polysaccharides are decomposed to low molecular weight neutrals (Glucose and others) and organic acids. Acid conductivity will be raised. Additionally, polysacharides promote biological growth functioning as nutrients.

Monitoring of TOC in make-up water is essential.

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Related News for Power Generation

Total Organic Carbon analysers are commonly used to measure the level of organic contamination in water. Online TOC analysers installed in refineries and petrochemical plants are located right in the middle of the process facilities.


LAR's analyzer QuickTOCeffluent is an online TOC analyzer especially designed for water with a low-particle density at the plant’s effluent.


LAR's online total organic carbon analyser determines the TOC in less than three minutes and thus, allows the operators to take fast countermeasures in case of water pollution.