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topic 52466

What is Cation Conductivity

A discussion started in 2009 & continuing through 2017

June 22, 2009

Q. What exactly is Cation conductivity and how it is beneficial in boiler water?

Prasad Reddy
Researcher - INDIA

June 23, 2009

A. Hi, Prasad

"In high pressure steam systems, cation conductivity is a useful tool for monitoring return condensate for low levels of contamination by anions such as Cl-, SO4-, HCO3-, etc. In practice, a cooled sample of condensate or high purity water flows through a cation exchanger in the hydrogen form. The cation resin replaces contaminating cations such as Ca++, Mg++, Na+, NH4+, and amines in the sample with hydrogen ions. The hydrogen ions exchanged for the other cations in the sample increase the conductivity contributed by the contaminant salts of mineral acid anions listed above by 3 or 4 times. Thus the cation exchange column can be thought of as a "conductivity amplifier" for mineral and organic acid contaminants; increasing the sensitivity of the conductivity analyzer to low levels of contamination. "

-- per


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 13, 2015

Q. The cationic conductivity was well defined.

I would like to clarify --
1. Will Cationic conductivity of live steam be higher than that of the condensate return from the turbine, or both will be same?
2. Is there will be effect of cooling system for steam condensing after exhaust from steam turbine, i.e., air cooled system or water cooled system will have any effect?
3. Is there any Feedwater limit to achieve cationic conductivity < 0.3us/cm?


Nisar Ahmad
- Rawalpindi, Pakistan

January 11, 2016

Q. When a sample stream is passed through a specific conductivity meter and then through a cation conductivity meter, which one should read higher? Why?

tom Mattingly
- whitesville, Kentucky, usa

simultaneous January 2016

? Hi Tom. Which one IS reading higher? :-)

Please try to explain your actual situation for me rather than posing an abstract proposition. This is especially important for a question that is a bit peripheral to our metal finishing focus because most readers are unprepared to try to help you without studying the topic a bit, and I wouldn't know where to start without a little background in the question :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 24, 2016

Q. I work at a power plant and although others and myself monitor cation conductivity, I'm not sure any of us understand it.

Question: a sample stream passes over a specific conductivity meter then through a cation resin column and the cation conductivity meter. Which meter should have a higher reading, the specific or the cation?
What does cation conductivity measure?

tom mattingly [returning]
tech - whitesville, Kentucky

February 2016

A. Hi. I am not actually acquainted with this stuff, but it sounds like: if the amount of chloride, sulfate, and other concentration is very low, it's not very conductive and therefore it's hard to monitor and watch for. But if you pass the water through a cation exchanger first, hydrogen ions (which are highly conductive) will replace the less conductive Ca++, Mg++, Na+, NH4+ cations in the water, thus rendering the contaminated water more conductive and easier to monitor.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 24, 2016

A. Hi Tom, The specific conductivity meter shows high reading than Cation, because specific conductivity meter showing total reading of cation+anion but the cation conductivity meter only gives the reading of cation.

Muhammad Saqib
- Islamabad Pakistan

May 10, 2017

A. But if you have contamination of amines in that water, then specific conductivity will show it, and cation conductivity won't. Therefore specific conductivity probably will be higher. You can read about it here:

"Cation (acid) conductivity is the technique of continuously conditioning the sample by passing it through a hydrogen form cation exchange cartridge. It enhances the sensitivity to contaminants by two means:
-- Ammonia or amines that are intentionally present at ppm levels are removed. This eliminates their high conductivity. The lower ppb concentrations and conductivity of contaminants can then be "seen" by the measurement.
-- Contaminant corrosive salts are converted to their respective acids which are typically three times as conductive as the original salt because of the highly conductive hydrogen ion."

Dmytro Tarianyk
- Cracow, Poland

How to reduce steam conductivity?

July 7, 2017

Q. Our steam pressure and temperature are 147 barg and 540 °C. Steam cationic conductivity is in the range of 0.3-0.6 uS/cm. This steam is also supplied to our client and they are asking for <0.1 uS/cm. Is it possible to achieve? If yes, how? Thanks.

Jo Jayakumar
- Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

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