What is scaling?
Scale deposits are formed by precipitation and crystal growth at a surface in contact with water. Precipitation occurs when solubilities are exceeded either in the bulk water or at the surface. The most common scale-forming salts that deposit on heat transfer surfaces are those that exhibit retrograde solubility with temperature.
Although they may be completely soluble in the lower-temperature bulk water, these compounds supersaturate in the higher-temperature water adjacent to the heat transfer surface and precipitate on the surface.
Scaling is not always related to temperature. Calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate scaling occur on unheated surfaces when their solubilities are exceeded in the bulk water. Metallic surfaces are ideal sites for crystal nucleation because of their rough surfaces and the low velocities adjacent to the surface. Corrosion cells on the metal surface produce areas of high pH, which promote the precipitation of many cooling water salts. Once formed, scale deposits initiate additional nucleation, and crystal growth proceeds at an accelerated rate.
Scale control can be achieved through operation of the cooling system at subsaturated conditions or through the use of chemical additives.