BOAS Assessors - The Key to our Success


Bringing a Steam Boiler On-Line from Cold


Biomass Boiler Explosion in Birmingham


Medium Combustion Plant Directive News


Testimonial - Ford Motor Company


Use of Filming Amines and Reverse Osmosis in boiler water treatment


Reducing Boiler Operating Pressure


Copper Pitting in Boilers


The Five Levels of Manning


Triumph Of Coal - Free Day


Scotlands' Micro Employer of the Year

Highland company Boiler and Valve Engineering was named as Scotland’s Micro Employer of the Year at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards 2018. The specialist engineering firm recruited two apprentices in one year because of its belief in the value they bring to the business. Managing Director Andrew Macdonald believes apprentices bring energy and enthusiasm that can only benefit his business, which provides maintenance services for major distilleries and public sector organisations across Scotland.

 Micro_Employer_of_the_Year.jpgPictured: Andrew MacDonald with apprentices Kenneth Murdoch, Connor Brown and Skills Development Scotland chairman John F McClelland CBE.

Nairn-based Boiler and Valve Engineering Ltd has been named Micro Employer of the Year at the 2017 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

The specialist engineering firm has recruited two engineering apprentices to its five-strong workforce since forming 18 months ago and both are studying towards a qualification at Inverness College UHI as part of its modern apprenticeship programme.

Second year apprentice Kenneth Murdoch has been with the firm since the outset and attends Inverness College UHI one day per week, studying for an HNC in Engineering Systems.

Connor Brown is a first-year apprentice who joined the firm this year. He attends Inverness College UHI two days per week and is studying towards an SVQ2 in Performing Engineering Operations.

Boiler and Valve Engineering Ltd, which specialises in industrial steam and hot water boilers for major distilleries and public-sector organisations, was nominated by the university in recognition of its strong commitment to the apprenticeship scheme and the belief in the value they bring to a company.

The awards took place at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday 16th November.

Read More


BOAS Assessors - The Key to our Success

Could you be part of the team?

The Boiler Operation Accreditation Scheme has been running for over 12 years now and is in a significantly enhanced and ‘steady state’ of operation after seeing over 3330 successful candidates pass through the scheme up to September 2017.

But what makes a successful training and assessment scheme?  One answer in the case of BOAS is the Assessors.

There is no such thing as a typical BOAS Assessor.  Sure, they all have a wealth of experience in the operation of steam and hot water boilers, and they have all been associated with the boiler industry in some way for most of their working lives, but they are all different characters and all highly professional individuals.  Some have an engineering consultancy background, some come from the H&S world, and some have spent many years operating plant at sea and on shore, but they all know their boilers.

Many of the dozen or so Assessors are retired, a few still have a full time role, and some are also BOAS Trainers; there is nothing wrong with being a BOAS Trainer and an Assessor as long as you do not assess the candidates you have trained.  Working in the BOAS scheme is a form of CPD for all those involved – we all learn something new every day from the candidates and the other professionals in the CEA involved in the scheme.

BOAS Assessors love to talk about steam and love to share experiences with their colleagues.  They take on the challenge of keeping up-to-date with their industry whilst encouraging the candidates they assess to know more about the plants they operate and increase their own knowledge.  A BOAS Assessment is a structured and quite rigorous process, but Assessors come away from their candidate interviews with the satisfaction of seeing good boilermen becoming safer and better boiler operators, and their managers and supervisors knowing more about their roles and the laws and best practices that underpin the industry.

Boiler explosions and related dangerous occurrences are rare in this country, and this is no accident.  Trained boiler operators and managers are now required to have BOAS by some employers, and insurance inspectors are looking for trained operatives when they inspect plant – it is a legal requirement to be trained for work activities, after all. 

The CEA awarded Kiwa the task of managing the BOAS assessment process and organising the Assessors.  They are always on the lookout for new Assessors to join the team.  A steady increase in the numbers being trained, plus the addition of a new category of operator and the continual five yearly renewals mean that the BOAS scheme is going from strength to strength.  Do you think you could join in with our success?

Please apply to Andrew Mathews at or Dave Kilpatrick at  We look forward to welcoming you to the team.


Bringing a Steam Boiler On-Line from Cold

To help understand what needs to be done and why things need to be done in a certain way, the following procedure presumes that the boiler is completely cold and dry, such as after a prolonged shutdown or annual inspection.

Steps can be omitted for boilers with some residual heat still in them and a typical example of this could be the start up after a weekend shutdown where the boiler has dropped in pressure and cooled, yet still has heat in it.

Note: The need to heat the boiler slowly will be explained throughout this procedure and it can take many hours for a large cold boiler to be heated correctly to operating temperature and pressure. Timing will also depend on how much treated water is available to fill the boiler, so be prepared for a long day and you may have to include a shift handover procedure to safely complete the task.

To read to full article please click here. 


Biomass Boiler Explosion in Birmingham

A factory worker has died and two others left in a stable condition following an explosion at a recycling plant in Oldbury, Birmingham. 

The man, in his 50s, suffered very serious burns in the explosion, in the early hours of Monday 7th August. Sadly he later died from his injuries.

Two other workers in their 30s and 40s also sustained burns in the incident. They remain in a stable condition in hospital.

The police were called by the fire service at 1:50am Monday morning. 

Health and Safety Executive chiefs said they are aware of the incident and will investigate.

Read the full article here. 


Medium Combustion Plant Directive News

Now that the recent election is over Defra are able to re-engage with Stakeholders on current projects, the most pressing being MCPD.

A number of matters have arisen over the last few weeks:


The Government’s consultation on the implementation of the MCPD ran between 16 November 2016 and 8 February 2017, and the results were published at the end of June.

Of the 112 responses received, the largest number of responses were from the Energy sector, followed by Industry, Local Authorities and Regulators.

Implementation Summary

MCP Timetable


One clearly overriding factor in these discussions is the scope and importance of Air Quality Management Areas.  The Directive (Art 6:9) allows the Regulator to impose stricter controls on emissions for AQMA and it is likely with current public pressure and interest that this will be done.

EA Guidance

NOTE – this is a short form of the document discussed at the stakeholder working group and further detail (especially for diesel generator rules) is available on request to the CEA.

See the full News article Here


Testimonial - Ford Motor Company

I am very pleased to provide this testimonial on behalf of Ford Motor Company.

My role is Engineering Manager responsible for the Boiler House & estate maintenance for the Ford plant at Dagenham, Essex.

I contacted the CEA for advice on training after the completion of our new boiler house in 2015 on the recommendation of the boiler manufacturer.

I was contacted by David Kilpatrick who recommended the BOAS accreditation for Managers, Supervisors, & Operators, which we completed.

I found the course very informative giving us an excellent understanding of BG01, with the benefit of having it delivered on our own premises.

My team have all given positive feedback on what they received.

I have since attended the Technical Boiler House Risk Assessment conference which has been very useful in giving me the tools to enable implementing my own technical Risk Assessments.

The CEA are always on hand for advice and networking in other areas, on the recommendation of David Kilpatrick I have since started my team on an industrial gas qualification I-GAS, which is going well so far.

As a customer I have found the whole experience excellent and would most definitely recommend the CEA. Well done.


Dean Sheldrake,

Utility & Estate Services
Ford Motor Company Limited


Use of Filming Amines and Reverse Osmosis in boiler water treatment

The Camberley plant is a large commercial laundry part of the CLEAN group of laundries. This plant processes up to one million pieces of linen per week on a two shift/7 day per week operation.

For Clean Camberly, the use of and RO plant and injection of amine is very successful.  The boilers have stayed in good condition with minimal scaling in the boiler. TDS stays low and constant so blowdowns are minimised with a good saving in energy.  They have little or no problems with the other parts of the steam system either.

L. Armitstead

Engineering Manager, Clean Camberley

June 2017

Please Note - This article is a personal view by the author based on their results of their steam boiler and system.

Also note - David Kilpatrick director of the CEA would like to point readers to the CEA guidance document BG04 which talks in detail about all aspects of Steam and Boiler Water Treatment. Pages 22 and 23 offer words of caution on when and where Amine can be used, as it may suit this closed loop process but please check with a steam boiler water treatment expert that it is suitable for your process. Because steam boiler water treatment is a complex subject CEA do not endorse any technical aspect of this article and it is highly recommended that the reader carries out a thorough risk assessment in accordance with BG04 to ensure the correct boiler water treatment is applied to your individual application. 

Click Here to view Full Article


Reducing Boiler Operating Pressure

What Are the Implications of De-rating Boiler Pressure Below that of Boiler Design Pressure

Is it appropriate on your plant to reduce the boiler operating pressure with a view to saving money on fuel costs, when you consider both the effects on the plant and equipment and the associated risks of making the necessary changes?

In these days of pushing the boundaries on energy efficiency it’s very easy to connect a lower working temperature in a boiler to a lower flue gas temperature and therefore higher efficiency; but is that really the case?  While it’s true that a 15°C reduction in flue gas temperature will save most steam users 1% of the boiler running cost, it isn’t quite that simple when it comes to looking at the effect on the system as whole.

Click here to read the article.

Adrian Rhodes - CEA Vice Chairman


Copper Pitting in Boilers

It’s quite common in boilers with base-exchange water softeners, the effects are worsened by having hard water and/or high make-up rates.


If you have a base-exchange softener the scale forming calcium is taken out but the carbonate remains, this doesn’t harm the boiler but instead breaks down to form CO2.  This CO2 leaves the boiler with the steam, and then dissolves in the condensate to form carbonic acid which erodes the condensate pipework forming a metal salt (Iron carbonate, copper carbonate, etc.).  The carbonate returns to the boiler via the feed system where it once again breaks down to form CO2 and the cycle begins again.

Copper and zinc are a particular problem as the metal ion left over from the dissociation plates-out on the steel boiler surfaces; as the steel and the copper are dissimilar, a galvanic cell is formed and, as steel acts as the anode, the steel is eroded rapidly local to the copper deposit.

There are a number of possible solutions depending on how deep your pockets are:

  • Remove the copper pipework (remember – it is corroding right now so you will have to do this at some point anyway) and;
  • Replace with steel (this won’t stop the corrosion of the condensate lines but it will stop the galvanic corrosion in the boiler) or;
  • Replace with stainless steel (this will stop both the damage to the boiler AND the condensate lines).

Soluble copper usually results from carbon dioxide, oxygen or ammonia in the condensate system.

In order to deal with these problems, the common solution is to eliminate or neutralise the sources of these gases.

With all steam systems, it is recommended that you carry out a boiler water treatment risk assessment in accordance with BG04, considering the suitability of introducing chemical product(s), in order to boost pH and reduce free CO2 (and therefore reduce the damage to the condensate line). This boiler water treatment risk assessment should consider the destination of the steam and what it might contact.

It should also consider the suitability of the pre-treatment plant currently in operation.

From the conclusions of the boiler water treatment risk assessment, carried out in accordance with BG04, you can then consider your pre-treatment options.


Usually, there are at least two options;

Install a reverse osmosis unit after your existing base-exchange softener, which will not only remove carbonates but almost everything else too, producing ultra-pure water.

Alternatively, install a dealkalisation plant, which will remove the carbonates only. Both systems will have the potential added benefit of removing make-up water dissolved solids, thereby consequentially reducing blowdown and energy costs.

You will need to talk to a water treatment company, proficient in boiler water treatment, about these options and they should be able to then put an economic case together for you, to put to management.

It is very important when dealing with copper pitting in boilers that the whole steam system is sampled and considered, since there are other routes to copper corrosion, which are very specialist and as such are not considered here.

We would suggest contacting a specialist in steam boiler water chemistry, for further advice with respect to this.


The boiler maker however, will no doubt refer to BG04 Boiler water treatment guidance for shell boilers, coil boilers, steam generators and hot water boilers or BS 2486 Recommendations for treatment of water for steam boilers and water heaters in their technical documentation. Both will recommend keeping the alkalinity below 25mg/kg in the feed water to keep the amount of CO2 released in the boiler to a minimum.


The Five Levels of Manning


Fully manned

  • A competent boiler operator in the boilerhouse whilst the boilers are operating.

Local manning

  • A competent boiler operator on site whilst the boilers are operating.
  • Must be within earshot of alarms and able to attend within 7 minutes.

Unmanned (level 1)

  • A competent boiler operator must attend the boilers on a daily basis.
  • A trained person must be able to attend an alarm in the absence of a competent boiler operator to ensure that the boiler/boilers are shut down safely and be able to summon a competent boiler operator if required.

Unmanned (level 2)

  • Automation on the boilers must follow guidance and be such that the boilers shut themselves down safely in the event of an incident.
  • A competent boiler operator must attend the boilers on a daily basis.
  • The boilers must be monitored from a remote monitoring centre all the time the boilers are operating and who has the ability to summon a competent boiler operator in the event of failure.

Unmanned (level 3)

  • Automation on the boilers must follow guidance and be such that the boilers shut themselves down safely in the event of an incident.
  • A competent boiler operator must attend the boilers at least every 72 hours.
  • Increased monitoring must be incorporated and monitored from a remote monitoring centre all the time the boilers are operating and who has the ability to summon a competent boiler operator in the event of failure.
To download a PDF version click here.


Triumph Of Coal - Free Day

The announcement by the National Grid that no coal-fired power was produced in Britain yesterday has been widely covered in today's national news. BBC TV showed the National Grid "meter" with coal at zero. This has been seen as a triumphant step on the way to meeting our climate change obligations. 

What has NOT been highlighted in this coverage is that, at the same time as using no coal, the weather has been largely windless and cloudy. This morning, wind generation was contributing about 4% of our requirements and solar about 5%. At the same time, we were importing 10% of our needs on the interconnectors from the continent. The backbone of our electricity supply was from gas, almost half of the total.

Nuclear power accounts for a fifth of our generation and it is a tragedy that the next generation of nuclear stations is mired in so much uncertainty, most recently the financial problems of Toshiba putting at risk the project in Cumbria. It is of fundamental national importance that we secure an ongoing nuclear generation baseload. 

In talking up the achievements of Britain in building renewable generation, we MUST recognise that its variability is inescapable. Secure and affordable gas supplies are vital. Importing gas is less beneficial than domestic output. It really IS time for the public to be educated in the whole story and to consider the well-regulated development of shale gas as a national priority. For too long, opponents have been allowed to promulgate scare stories and whip up opposition to exploration and development of shale gas. 


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