Reference document: 089 03/15/2006
The truth About the Dolphin System
Waterside Asset Management, Gordon Guthrie - Consultant
Starting with potatoes skins & tannin, water treatment has taken on many forms. Since then technology has allowed us to experiment with both chemical and mechanical means. Chemical approaches to water problems have certainly been the main thrust; however, there have been a good symbiotic relationship with mechanical devices such as the DA mechanically stripping the oxygen and sulfite acting as a chemical scavenger. One without the other in this case is not in the best interest of the user. Other mechanical devises have served alongside with chemicals, filtration, DAF’s, belt press, softeners, DI, RO, etc… I have recently had the opportunity to study the Dolphin system in a way that I was not able before (being chemically biased) and have come to the conclusion that the pulsed electrical field has worked and does have merit in the water conditioning and treatment of various parameters such as bio-control, scaling and corrosion control. There are private endorsements of the Dolphin system by some very well qualified renowned water treatment consultants that lend credence toward the Dolphin. To be sure not to be biased the other way; chemical programs work very well in providing these same conditions and have for close to a hundred years now. It is important also, on the part of this consultant, to distinguish between the Dolphin and traditional “Magnet” programs which in theory and practice are completely different in their technology and especially the results. There are limitations to the use of the Dolphin system; closed systems, condensate treatment, some boiler applications and some rare extreme water chemistries.
In order to give a clear picture on the Dolphin system and its value to customers, one needs to address each water treatment concern such as, corrosion control, bio-control, scale and fouling. Clearwater has done a good job with these on their website (www.clearwater-dolphin.com) to explain the functionality of the unit, so I’m not gong to reaffirm the information other than to say that I have finally seen the evidence and want to address its value.
What determines value in your facility with a water treatment program? Is the cost of implementation, utility costs, maintenance, equipment depreciation, capital expenditures, and or safety? Of course one could make and argument for each of these. Which one is yours?
I believe that to achieve all of these, one needs to have good control over the program that you choose to run in your facility. I believe this is where the Dolphin has the edge on traditional chemical programs. The Dolphin has the luxury of only having to meet one parameter – high solids, where as there are additional parameters that must be met with chemical programs such as maintaining the correct solids, reaching the right alkalinity and hardness – not too high with hard water applications and not too low with soft water applications. Parameters in the chemical approach such as dissolved solids must be maintained not to exceed certain limits which can affect the products’ organic inhibitors based on its limiting HTI (holding time index). Chemical biocide programs can be hit or miss, however, recent technology in bio-control does begin to address this. Additionally, chemical biocides have been issues of safety (dispensing, handling), discharge, and overall public perceptions.
In the past chemical programs did not require any substantial capital investment and the good news in that the Clearwater Systems Co. can provide leasing programs to address any short term budget concerns. In addition, the Dolphin system, with little to no maintenance requirement – gives the user a clear budget picture for the future of his/her facility.
It is important to consider the return on investment. I recall that the chemical industry would address the ROI on these applications and would point out that in direct comparison to chemical programs, the Dolphin system would lose on % payback. Well, if you consider only one venue for comparison this might be true. We must not forget that there are intangibles in every value calculation. 1) What does it cost for injuries from leaking chemical feed tubing & pumps, 2) from running out of product due to an overflow in the tower basin, 3) from using excess water, 4) from finding that your high suspended solids is not been addressed by the chemical program and is creating fouling in the tubes, 5) paying more for lower corrosion rates when you can do just fine with slightly higher rates with no impact on your systems or their performance. Note: (corrosion rates are not an issue with the Dolphin due to the mechanics of charge neutralization creating cathodic protection on both copper and mild steel surfaces). Yes you can get corrosion rates lower with well controlled chemical programs, but are you willing to pay and for what price. So before you truly evaluate the ROI on the Dolphin system, bring in the intangibles into the equation.
Other Non Chemical Devices (NCD) vs. Dolphin System
Some might have heard of the VTRX, basically working off of the cavitation/sonication mechanics. Some might have heard of plan ordinary “magnets” which practice the Lorentz theory that brings up the effects from a magnetic field etc… There are also systems that are put together in a package that uses magnets and silver and copper to theoretically prevent bio-growth – these systems often have a pot feeder attached to augment the silver and copper anodes with biocides (chlorine/bromine) etc…
The truth is that of all of these, the only legitimate peer program appears to be the VTRX. Suffice it to say, its technology is a mystery to most and the cavitation issues loom large in the technical arena. The Dolphin working principle (pulsed magnetic energy) has been used in pasteurization for many years and the discovery of that same existing technology being applied to cycled up water holds more merit than any other NCD’s technology.
After researching the practices of the industry for many years, far too many specialty chemical companies have had turf protection wars relative to their bread and butter product – “chemicals”. The Dolphin innovators do not begin to deny the effectiveness of chemicals; they simply offer a working alternative solution to the industry and its concerns. Assuming you have heard of the theory; “if the major chemical specialty companies thought this process worked that they would buy into the technology to avoid losing their market share”. Well, why do you suppose fixed technology specialty chemical companies don’t? That appears to be a valid question, we should ask for a valid response, and see what the answer would be. One has to assume that the answer could be; 1) there is too much invested in the overhead of these large specialty chemical corporations, 2) a switch to a non/low service oriented system like the Dolphin, would be next to impossible to absorb the financial burden this would bring and/or 3) It just does not work. I now believe that the third potential answer has no validity. I do, however, believe they see value in this technology but it is not currently in their core competency and/or in their marketing or operating plans.
Chemical programs do work and have their place in the facility, however, so does the Dolphin. Both of which must have good control over their various requirements and without that, neither program will do what you are looking for. If you are looking for a chemical free environment, then the Dolphin system has the means to accomplish that. Before you make the leap into either, consider all ramifications rather than that of the prospective seller.
This is not an endorsement of, or for Clearwater Systems Corporation. Rather the opinion of a 21 year water treatment veteran of the specialty chemical industry.
Waterside Asset Management