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Reduce Scaling With Your Starch-Based Adhesive for Corrugated Boards

Posted by Jonathan Zinser

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It all starts in the kitchen.

Corrugated board is the world’s second-largest application for non-food starches (#1 being paper production). Specific starch-based adhesives for corrugated board are crucial to producing high-quality packaging.

To make corrugated board, a fluted piece must adjoin to a strong, flat liner via adhesive and steam. As it dries under heat, starch adhesive gelatinizes, creating a strong bond in the corrugated board. Without the starch adhesive manufacturing process, corrugated board wouldn’t exist as we know it.

As with any cooking, heat is key. Over time, scaling from deposition can interfere with heat transfer in your starch kitchen and even cause component failure.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the importance of water quality in corrugated adhesive preparation, and how it impacts scaling.

Bad Water: A Recipe for Disaster in Starch-Based Adhesive for Corrugated Board

Anyone responsible for steam boiler efficiency in a corrugated packaging facility is familiar with the challenges of maintenance and durability.

Scaling is a deposit of corrosion and minerals that forms on the inside of piping and heat transfer surfaces. Scaling forms during water heating, which causes impurities to precipitate or settle out. These deposits build up over time and interfere with heat transfer, eventually causing boiler tube and system failure in extreme cases.

Where does your starch recipe come into play? 

Think about the formulation of starch-based adhesives. Most recipes for starch glue for corrugated plants consist of:

  • Starch
  • Borax
  • Caustic
  • Water

These ingredients are mixed and heated to achieve a target viscosity. There’s purpose in every ingredient, not the least of which is water. But what’s in the water also makes a difference. 

If a corrugated board facility uses city water in its starch adhesive, scaling can form on the cooking kettles during heating via steam. Urban water supplies typically include several types of hardness ions that become insoluble as the water temperature increases. After a batch of starch is emptied from the kettle, you can see a white, hard film on the kettle’s side walls. This scaling is due to the improper water treatment during starch adhesive preparation.

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The Secret Ingredient: Special Water Softeners for Steam Boiler

So, how can you fix this scaling? The implementation of softeners for starch kitchens is a great step in preventing hardness-based scale on cooking kettles. 

Softeners, a staple of steam boiler water chemical treatment, can remove hardness ions from tap water and only pass soft water, if maintained, to the starch kitchen. This means:

  • No scaling
  • Cleaner kettles
  • Faster heating due to increased heat transfer
  • Reduced energy use

Best of all, you’ll help your plant avoid costly equipment replacement and treatments down the line.

Already Boiling Over Kettle Scaling? It’s Not Too Late

If your kettles are already scaled, there’s a solution for that, too. 

During downtime, your boiler treatment chemical supplier can add a mix of acid and water safely to your cooking kettles. With mixing, this acid can break down the hardness-scale over a matter of hours to give it a soft, doughy consistency. Using a paddle or similar tool, you can mechanically remove the scale from the side walls.

Reaching the Perfect Solution for Starch-Based Adhesive in Corrugated Boards

Starch adhesives for corrugated boards are critical to the production pace of your plant. The water you use in those recipes should be, too.

Scaling problems that start small can quickly become a big problem if you don’t quickly address them. Often, the solution isn’t adding more industrial steam boiler chemicals. In this case, you can actually eliminate chemicals by adding a mechanical and operational solution.

By thinking outside the box, you can keep your plant operation happy and healthy for years to come.

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Topics: Water Treatment, Corrugating, boilers


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