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The HydroFLOW Limescale Control Device
How Limescale Buildup Affects Boiler Energy Costs
Estimated Household Savings from the Prevention of Limescale Buildup
Estimated Effectiveness of HydroFLOW Limescale Prevention Devices

Sadan-Lowenthal Ltd.
1. The device and its properties:
a. The HydroFLOW device
This is an electronic device that is installed at a convenient point on and outside the water pipe. The device is suitable for households, or enterprises and business establishments that consume water. This device transmits random electric pulses, makes use of the water as an electricity conductor, and induces an electric field ("magnetic field") at ranges of dozens of meters, up and down the flow in the pipe. Experience shows that this field prevents limescale buildup on the walls of the pipe system, heating elements, heat exchangers and other bodies over which the water flows. Concerning the induced field and its effect on limescale, the technology of the device is called "magnetic water treatment technology" or "magnetic control of limescale."

b. Insoluble salts and limescale buildup
A simple explanation of the action required of the HydroFLOW device would be as follows: The water that flows through the pipe systems of water consumers, i.e., households and enterprises, is actually a solution of various salts, the most common one being "sodium chloride" - which we in our daily lives refer to simply as "salt" or cooking salt. This salt is soluble and does not settle even when its concentration in water is several percent, as in the open sea. The water that flows through the pipe system also contains other, less soluble salts. These salts reach saturation and immediately settle in low concentrations such as those found in "fresh water."

The leading less soluble salts include lime and magnesium salts, which are familiar to us from, among other things, limestone (calcis), dolomite and gypsum - "calcium carbonate," "calcium sulfate," "magnesium carbonate," "magnesium sulfate." These salts, which are found everywhere, especially at "hard water" sites, reach saturation even at low concentrations.

The mixture of insoluble salts settles and adheres to the pipe system, heating elements and heat exchangers in the form of limescale.

The limescale causes a loss of energy well as accelerated wear and tear on the pipe system and the bodies that come into contact with the water.

c. How the HydroFLOW device prevents limescale from building up and washes it away through the pipe system
A simple formulation of an accepted model offering an explanation of the HydroFLOW device and others like it is as follows: [1] [2]. Salts moving in water break apart into electrically charged particulates. For example, cooking salt moves in water as chloride particulates that carry a negative electric charge (called "anions") and sodium particulates that carry a positive electric charge (called "cations"). The electrically charged particulates are sensitive to the effect of electric fields. The HydroFLOW device and others like it exploit this sensitivity. The electric field they induce acts on the charges of the particulates moving over it. The field increases the frequency of the encounters between the particulates carrying opposing charges ("anions" and "cations"). In this environment, crystallized nuclei develop into insoluble salts. Suspensions that form this way are insoluble and non-adhesive. These suspensions are washed through the water. Thus, limescale is prevented from accumulating on the pipe system and bodies such as heating elements and heat exchangers, over which the water flows.

Furthermore, the washing action dilutes the salt solutions that produce limescale (e.g. lime and magnesium salts). The diluted, unsaturated solutions are likely to dissolve the limescale stuck to the pipe system and various bodies, e.g., limescale that accumulated before the HydroFLOW device was installed. This process eliminates or moderates the cause of energy loss and accelerated wear and tear.

d. Applying the device
A large number of reports relate to the application results of devices based on the model described above. The vast majority of these reports support the conclusion that the devices prevent limescale buildup on the pipe system and the parts connected to it. The lists of users include well-established and audited entities that could not afford to make use of a technology that has not proven itself. A 1998 US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission document that was recompiled and republished in the 2000s [2] says:

"Today, the progress made in the technologies of magnetic and electrostatic control of limescale establishes their capability as energy-saving means that are reliable for defined uses." "The most important aspect of energy conservation from this technology is a reduction in the energy used in heating and cooling applications. The saving involves the prevention of limescale buildup and the removal of limescale, since even a light covering on the surfaces of heat exchangers is liable to increase energy consumption by 10%. A secondary saving in energy results from the reduction of the pressure and the load of the suction in a limescale-free pipe system."

Additional savings result from (1) "Eliminating the need for chemical means to soften the water and control the limescale," (2) "Eliminating the need for seasonal limescale removal" and (3) "Reducing the replacement of damaged heat exchangers."

The document specifies a list of leading public and giant
corporate users.

   NASA
   US Coast Guard
   US Air Force
   US Army Core of Engineers
   US Environmental Protection Agency
   US Postal Service
   Ford Motor Company
   General Motors
   Chrysler Motors
   General Electric
   Inland Steel
   Bethlehem, Steel
   LTV Steel

2. Economic feasibility test of the device:
a. Installation at public institutions and in industry, in terms of
energy savings -

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission document presents an estimate of the potential effect of the installation of magnetic treatment devices for softening water and controlling limescale in all the federal water heating systems:

Table No. 1: The cost difference between a traditional water heating system and a water heating system equipped with a magnetic treatment device

Current Value for 1998 $ Million at 1998 prices
52.8  1. Basic investment in the magnetic control device
200.3  2. Energy cost savings
147.5  3. The net saving


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission document expands on this and presents an analysis of a virtual experiment, as follows: The experiment involves an industrial heat exchange system that consumes 350 m3 of hard water (350 mg of calcium carbonate per liter of water) per day. The document makes a comparison between the current value of the costs involved in operating a traditional system without a magnetic treatment device and the costs involved in operating a system in which such a treatment device has been installed. The forecast of the experiment is 15 years. This is also the lifespan of the magnetic limescale control device. The discount rate (in real terms) is 3.8% per year. The initial investment in this device is estimated at $10,000 at 1998 prices. The current value of the energy saving is:

Table No. 2: The cost difference between a traditional system and a system equipped with a magnetic treatment device

Difference Cash flow, a system with magnetic control Cash flow, a traditional system
1998 dollars, current value for the beginning of the experiment period
c=a - b b a
-10,360 10,360 0  1. Basic investment in the magnetic control device
2,769,350 24,908,850 27,687,200  2. Energy-related cost items
2,758,990  3. The net cost difference (absolute current value) $


The net cost difference that reaches the extent of $2.75 million is the return on an investment of approximately $10,000. This is a relation between a return on an investment at an extent of tens of thousands of percent!

b. Device for an Israeli household, from an energy-saving aspect
An elementary calculation of energy saving in an Israeli household was carried out for WaterPath by Rani Fischer Engineering Consultation Ltd. [4]. The calculation relates to the household equipped with an electrical water boiler, and is based on the connection between the thickness of limescale buildup and the additional amount of energy required to heat up the boiler using a heating device.


    Source [5]

Rani Fischer's estimate was compiled for a limescale buildup margin of between 1 and 6 mm based on the following parameters:
  • Dimensions of the 2.5-kilowatt boiler
  • Electricity consumption 3.5 hours per day, annual average
  • kw/hour cost NIS 0.425
Based on these assumptions and a 3-mm limescale buildup, we obtain an energy increment above, which is necessary for a limescale-free boiler, estimated as follows:

298 = 0.425 x 2.5 x 22% x 3.5 x 365
Annual energy increment cost NIS kw/hour cost NIS per kw/hour Capacity, kilowatts Energy increment percentage Average heating hours per day Days per year

Paragraph 2(c) hereunder discusses the abrasion cost for devices that use water, including a hot water heater. In order to adapt the current estimate for further discussion, we must take into account the fact that the common hot water heater in Israel is electric/solar. Such a hot water heater will operate 3.5 hours a day on some 120 days at the most. The relevant estimate of the extra energy (excluding solar energy) that is consumed due to limescale buildup on the heating elements in a typical household will, therefore, not exceed one third of the aforementioned sum, i.e. approximately NIS 100 per year. With the forecast planned for 15 years, the current monetary value of the energy saving, at a discount rate of 6.5%, will be approximately NIS 950. From a national point of view, this represents a significant sum.

There are some 2 million households in Israel. Assuming that only half of them will install HydroFLOW devices, approximately NIS 100 million of energy will be saved per year. Their motivation for installing HydroFLOW devices will probably be a current value of saving NIS 950 and much higher sums as a result of preventing accelerated wear and tear and increased maintenance for the boiler and household appliances, as specified in Paragraph 2(c) below.

c. A device for the Israeli household, in terms of reducing wear and tear
Limescale causes accelerated wear and tear on the following appliances when they come into contact with water. Virtually all Israeli households have a boiler and a washing machine. About a third of the households also have a dishwasher.

The parameters of the wear and tear on these appliances were tested for WaterPath by the Orim Office [6]. Below are the margins of the relevant parameters as estimated by Orim:

The effect on the lifespan of the appliance following installation of the HydroFLOW device Prices in NIS per Appliance Appliance
Moderate Estimate, Years High Estimate, Years Low Estimate, Years Moderate Price Margin
7.5-12.5 10-15 5-10 5,000 2,200 - 3,000 Electric/Solar Hot Water Heater
6.5-10 8-12 5-8 2,500 2,000 - 3,000 Washing Machine
6.5-10 8-12 5-8 2,500 2,000 - 3,000 Dishwasher


Based on the moderate parameters, a household with a planned forecast of 15 years, and a discount rate of 6.5%, we obtain the findings shown in Table 3 above. This table indicates the moderate current values of the decreased investment costs for the various water-exposed household appliances following installation of a control device such as HydroFLOW. In other words, this represents the current values of savings to the household as a result of reduced wear and tear on the appliances - a reduction that results from the action of a device such as HydroFLOW. The current values are calculated up to the time immediately preceding the installation of the HydroFLOW device.


Table No. 3: The current value of the decreased investment costs for the various household appliances*

The Current (Absolute) Value of the Decreased Investment Costs for the Appliances, NIS Gross Estimate of the Prevalence of the Appliances in - The Various Appliances
Moderate Value Margin
Upper Deciles 8-10 Middle Deciles 4-7 Low Deciles 1-3 All the Households
1,350 Boiler
2,600 - 40% 70% 80% 65% Washing Machine
5,000
2,200 Boiler
3,965 - 55% 25% 10% 30% Washing Machine
7,300 Dishwasher


Summary: In about 65% of the households, most of which belong to the lower and middle deciles, we estimate the moderate current value of reduction in appliance wear and tear at NIS 2,600, resulting from the installation of the HydroFLOW device. This value is estimated in relation to a planned forecast of 15 years at a discount rate of 6.5%.

In about 30% of the households, most of which belong to the upper and middle deciles, we estimate the moderate current value of reduction in appliance wear and tear at NIS 3,550, resulting from the installation of the HydroFLOW device. This value is estimated in relation to a planned forecast of 15 years at a discount rate of 6.5%.

d. A device for the Israeli household - the gross advantage
In addition to the estimate of energy savings and the savings resulting from reduced appliance wear and tear, the Orim office calculated the annual decrease in pipe system maintenance costs at NIS 155 and the annual decrease in the cost of chemical limescale removers at NIS 120. The current value of both of these components in a household with a planned forecast of 15 years and a discount rate of 6.5% is approximately NIS 2,600. Since the concrete rates for these items are not understood, Table No. 4 below summarizes the advantages to the household from installing the HydroFLOW device without these items:

Table No. 4:
The current value of the inherent advantages in magnetic limescale control for the household


Total without Pipe System and Materials) NIS Current Value of the Energy Savings, NIS The Current (Absolute) Value of Reduced Wear and Tear on Appliances
Current Value NIS The Appliances
Boiler
4,915 950 3,965 Washing Machine
Dishwasher
Boiler
3,550 950 2,600 Washing Machine
Dishwasher

This represents a gross advantage. The net advantage will be obtained as the difference between the total face value and the cost of the device. The extent of this cost is approximately NIS 700. The net advantage or the net return, therefore, is between NIS 2,850 and NIS 4,215, without taking the pipe system and materials into account. The net advantage is positive also in relation to the low end of the Orim office's parameter margin. All this is without taking into account the effect of pipe system wear and tear on the consumption of limescale treatment substances. In light of the medium values, the ratio between the investment and return is very high. In other words, from the point of view of the average household, this is a very good investment.

3. Economies of Scale:
The investment in the HydroFLOW device was considered good even in a hypothetical situation when the only consideration was energy savings. That is because the device costs about NIS 700, and it guarantees energy savings whose current value, considering a forecast of 15 years and a discount rate of 6.5%, is NIS 950. Also from this narrow point of view (which disregards appliance wear and tear), we are left with a net current value of about NIS 250 as a net return on an investment of NIS 700.

However, as impressive as the ratio 700/250 = 35% is, and the justification of the investment in the device, this ratio is child's play compared to the ratio obtained for the industrial plant discussed in Paragraph 2(a) - which is measured in tens of thousands of percent.

The reason for the gap is the extent. The gap between the cases is likely to be a result of the significant gaps between the two cases. One of the gaps is based on the phenomenon known as economies of scale. That is because a household consumes about 350 m3 per year, whereas the factory described in the Federal document quoted in Paragraph 2(a) consumes 350 m3 per day.

It is possible to examine the economies of scale when talking about central installation of the HydroFLOW device in a cluster of households, e.g. a community of 300-400 families such as a moshav or kibbutz. The cost of a central device in a community of this size would be about NIS 70,000. The current value of the energy savings (in a 15-year period and at a discount rate of 6.5%) would be about NIS 300,000.

Therefore, we see a ratio of net return on investment of about 7/30 = about 425%. Here, too, there is no narrowing of the gap between the aforementioned plant in the industrial context. This could be the result of gaps between centralized utilization in an industrial plant and the dispersed system in a cluster of households.

Nevertheless, the ratio of 425% is an impressive one, and it means that installation in a cluster of households is extremely worthwhile even when only taking into account the energy savings. If we also take into account the impact on appliance wear and tear, the investment feasibility skyrockets.

4. Sources:
[1] Avner Adin and Rami Halperin (2001) HydroFLOW Technology. Water, Fluid and Irrigation Engineering, Issue No. 13, May-June.

[2] U.S. Department of Energy, "Non-Chemical Technologies for Scale and Hardness Control, Federal Technology Alert" (1998, amended 2000, reprinted 2004), prepared by Battelle Columbus Operations.

[3] A list of 16 reports appearing in the U.S. Department of Energy [2]. An updated December 2005 list containing over 20 independent and commercial publications (and about 30 articles) appears in "Science of Descaling and Magnetic Water Treatment," Biophysica Inc.
A 1994 report focusing on the achievements of the technology discussed herein, on biological control of a cooling system was published by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection in relation to Schick. A Pollution Prevention Case Study.
We should cite a report on a magnetic control technology experiment, which did not reach conclusive results: Smothers, K.W.; Strauss, B.T.; Gard, C.D.; Curtiss, R.H. and Hock, V.F. (2001). "Demonstration and Evaluation of Magnetic Descalers," US Army Corps.

[4] Rani Fischer Engineering Consultation Ltd. (2005). "How Limescale Buildup Affects Boiler Energy Costs," a calculation prepared for WaterPath, a Member of the Pazgas Group.

[5] MHD Intergraph Tech Associates, Inc. "How Magnetohydrodynamic Technology Works."

[6] Orim Finances (2006). "Estimated Household Savings from the Prevention of Limescale Buildup," prepared for WaterPath, a Member of the Pazgas Group.