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Sometimes it's hard to suspend disbelief enough to make an unbiased judgement about a product, particularly when it's from an industry with a history of charlatanry, if not outright chicanery. For instance, chemical-free water treatment—which most people associate with sticking a speaker magnet on a pipe under the kitchen sink. The systems I'm talking about, though, are industrial-sized... used for cooling towers, boilers in big buildings, even large fountains. There were a small handful of companies offering such non-chemical systems exhibiting at this year's Greenbuild. At least three of them use advanced magnetics for at least part of the system, and that's a giant hurdle for a lot (probably most) specifying engineers and prospective clients to get past. A couple years ago, Clearwater Systems submitted their pulsed-electromagnetic Dolphin system to be considered for GreenSpec. They had case studies—impressive ones from large multinational corporations—but it's not enough for us for manufacturers (or their clients) to just say something works. We want to understand and verify the science, particularly for a product like this. To our surprise, after spending entirely too much time chasing down both the rudiments and the details of things like cellular electroporation, methods of coagulation induction, and ways to do cold pasteurization, along with interviewing hydronic engineers, plant managers, and detractors from the chemical water treatment industry, there seemed to be merit left over when all was said and done. See the Environmental Building News product review, "Non-Chemical Water Treatment for Cooling Towers." Long story short, the Dolphin is listed in GreenSpec as a nonchemical alternative where water conditions are appropriate. At Greenbuild, I learned that Evapco, which manufactures evaporative condensers and cooling towers, has introduced a remarkably similar system. Seems like a company that makes evaporative cooling systems wouldn't involve itself with a component that could screw up its mainstay. A similar product listed in GreenSpec (approved on the heels of the Dolphin) that exhibited at Greenbuild is the Superior Water Conditioner system, which uses fixed magnets with overlapping, reversed poles to induce calcium carbonate to precipitate. It was helpful in our deliberations that it had already been found effective for scale control in an ASHRAE 2002 research project. These products are not appropriate for all conditions. They have to be engineered. They are not one-size-fits-all. A monitoring and maintenance package should be included. This is a developing industry; you have to do your homework and make your wisest choice—no different than going the chemical route.

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Comments

1 a truly excellent and worthwh posted by Cooling Tower Treatment on 05/31/2010 at 05:59 am

a truly excellent and worthwhile article, as a vested party in cooling water treatment, using green technologies is an under-utilised concept compared with other industries, it's about time that we moved in this direction.

2 Also see Part 2 of Non-chemic posted by Mark Piepkorn on 11/20/2007 at 03:41 pm

Also see Part 2 of Non-chemical water treatment systems:http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2007/11/20/Nonchemical-water...

3 Water - an important factor f posted by Nina on 07/09/2009 at 02:48 am

Water - an important factor for the life of man consists of 75% of the water. New non-chemical water purification systems will help preserve the environment and health of the nation. But this product is not suitable for all settings.

4 We have been in the industry posted by John March on 01/19/2010 at 02:07 pm

We have been in the industry for 15 years and have seen many manufacturers and distributors of this type of equipment come and go. The biggest issue is someone who does not understand the technology and applying it incorrectly. The same thing could be said looking back at the history of the chemical water treatment industry when many people called it snake oil. Non chemical water treatment is here to stay and the customers are asking for a greener solution. However if you are going to sell a product like this in the marketplace, it needs to be backed up with technical knowledge and service people. If you do not have this then you are only looking for a problem to happen.

5 I looked up the Scale-Ban web posted by Mark Piepkorn on 03/16/2009 at 05:10 am

I looked up the Scale-Ban website - http://www.scalebanindia.com . On their home page it says, "A fit 'n forget system" - a no-maintenance, one-size-fits-all device with no monitoring provided. Three red flags right from the get-go. (For comparison, a competing German product - AquaBion - says on its home page that the system is effective "depending on the conditions of the plant in question, plus the quality of the water.") The Scale-Ban system is supposed to work on galvanic principles; I'm not sure how there wouldn't at least be a sacrificial anode or two that would require periodic replacement. There's a somewhat detailed explanation of the theories behind the system at http://www.compositeaqua.com/scale_ban.htm - it seems questionable to me, but I'm not a water scientist. Anybody got some knowledge to share?

6 BIG FAILURE & CHEATING - SCAL posted by ambika on 03/16/2009 at 04:12 am

BIG FAILURE & CHEATING - SCALEBAN (INDORE) - Non Chemical Water Treatment Equipments

With this communication, we are trying to share our BAD EXPERIENCE of Non-Chemical Water Treatment Equipments, supplied by M/s Scaleban of Indore.

Other than the total failure of the equipments, their approach and after sale service is highly unethical business practices used by Scaleban Equipments Pvt. Ltd. We are feeling that it is our duty to at least inform the industry wherever it may be possible to save others from this bad experience against which we are suffering. Not only that their claims were very high even the cost are also at least 400 to 500 times to the actual value of the product. We would be very please to answer any of the queries from anyone anytime.

Thanx

General Manager Projectsambikagroupmp@yahoo.co.in


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