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The Evolution and Invention of the TowerMate System

                                         The TowerMate Story

 

This photo was taken in January, 1992.  It is the first TowerMate ever sold, and it is still running today.  This 200-ton cooling tower has been cooling the chiller at this building in Detroit for 19 years with zero bleed, zero chemicals, and zero cleaning.  The pump has been replaced once, a control board has been replaced once, and the electrodes have been replaced twice.  More importantly, the cooling tower, plate-and-frame heat exchanger, and the chiller are still in operation, too!  When this unit was sold in December, 1991, the building’s tenant was the General Motors Truck and Bus Engineering Center—now it is a general commercial office building.  TowerMate has saved the owner over 50 million gallons of bleed water, and over $200,000 in operating costs!  It was probably the best money ever he spent with the fastest ROI.  The owner, Marc Pomeroy, decided to try TowerMate because he had used three different local chemical service companies, and all three had failed miserably.  You can see the chemical feed and bleed controllers on the wall behind the TowerMate, no longer being used.  When we were there for the sales call, Marc told us that the system had been drained and cleaned just six weeks earlier.  We were shocked to find the water in the basin looked like liquid rust—completely opaque.  The stainless steel plate-and-frame heat exchanger had been disassembled and acid cleaned at the same time, and approach temperatures were already severely degraded.

 

We installed the TowerMate system two weeks later, without any cleaning, draining, or special preparation to their system at all.  We defeated all the chemical feed and bleed controls and started up the TowerMate.  The results amazed even us!  After two days, scale flakes were being removed from the system so rapidly that it clogged our strainer basket and purge valve.  The photo shows our local sales representative emptying the strainer into a 5-gallon bucket (which was filled twice during the first two weeks, before the scale flakes became small enough to be purged automatically).  After two weeks, the system was scale-free and the water was crystal-clear.  It has reMained that way to this day with no biological growth, corrosion, scale, bleed, or chemicals.

Tommy Wood (Inventor)

The TowerMate System was created in 1991 after three years of research.  The inventor, Tommy Wood, is a Mechanical Engineer who had been applying the NASA-developed ionization technology to recirculating water systems, most notably swimming pools, fountains, and cooling towers, and seeing first-hand how effectively ionization replaced chlorine compounds as a biocide.  He came to realize that cooling towers in general are the most poorly Maintained recirculating water systems in existence.  Most of them have no filtration at all and depend exclusively on chemicals and waste to operate and protect expensive and vital equipment.  He understood that ionization and filtration together would be a vast improvement over the prevailing technology, but that chemicals and bleed would still be necessary to control scale and corrosion, so he began the search for the technology to prevent scale and corrosion without wasting water and chemicals.

This photo shows the Biocide Generator electrodes.  This technology was invented and patented by NASA to purify the (recycled) water aboard spacecraft for safe human consumption.  The proprietary alloy of the electrodes and the electrical current provided by our Biocide Generator controller produce powerful, long-lasting ions that eliminate all algae, fungus, mold, virus, and bacteria, including Legionella

 

The Biocide Generator is just a third of the three synergistic technologies that make up the TowerMate System.  We use centrifugal solids-from-liquid separation to remove debris, scale, and suspended contaminants from the recirculating water.  The separator’s efficacy is enhanced, reaching 40-micron filtration levels, by the Biocide Generator and the Magnetic Field Generator.

The Magnetic Field Generator is where our system gets controversial.  It is also where it gets valuable. 

 

The search was exhaustive, and included all manner of chelants, sequestering agents, dissimilar metal devices, ozonators, UV lights, ion-exchange equipment (softeners), electrostatic devices, electromagnets, and permanent magnets.  Surprisingly, Tommy found that the “reasonable technologies” of ozone and ion exchange were often out-performed by the “snake oil” of electrostatics and magnetics.  Being a conservative engineer, he simply could not believe that magnetic fields could prevent and remove scale, but some of the references he investigated were credible.  To make a long story short, after more than one-and-a-half years’ research, Tommy had come to the realization that magnetic fields could, indeed, prevent and remove scaling on heat transfer surfaces if they were applied properly.  Most of the applications in existence were applied improperly and failed miserably or had only limited success.  Tommy developed a proprietary application method that, even though somewhat more costly, ensures success in every application.  Gaining some understanding of how the technology actually works, he decided that the most reliable and effective source for the magnetic fields was permanent magnets.

 

The big question, however, still exists:  how does it work?  There are several schools of thought, but no scientific consensus exists today.  It is very much like light.  We can’t say with certainty whether light is a wave or a particle, but we can use sunlight to see the world, heat water and objects, even charge batteries.  We can design all sorts of light emitters—incandescent bulbs, fluorescent tubes, neon, krypton, xenon, even LEDs—many ways to convert electricity or heat to light, but we still don’t know if they are emitting waves or particles.  We sure know how to benefit from the technology, though.  Probably the easiest way to understand the magnetic water treatment phenomenon (magnetohydrodynamics) is to compare it with the generation of electricity.  We all understand that to generate electricity, we move a magnetic field relative to a conductor.  Typically, a stationary conductor (a coil of copper wire) is positioned around the path of a moving magnetic field (a large permanent magnet).  As the magnet rotates near the conductor, electrons begin to move within the conductor, jumping from molecule to molecule, following the path of least resistance.  This is the electricity we use everyday.  The conductors never move, but the magnetic field is constantly driven past them, and the follow of electricity is endless.

 

The TowerMate System is similar.  The water in the recirculating system is the electrical conductor, and it is in constant motion.  We allow it to move through an intense stationary magnetic field.  When it does, electrons in the molecules of the water move, jumping from one molecule to another.  This excitation causes contaminants in the water (scale-causing minerals included) to undergo physical changes.  We all remember from chemistry class that changes in ionic valence cause changes in crystalline structure.  The actual result of all this is that, for example, calcium carbonate in solution, and calcite deposited onto hot surfaces, change to aragonite, a suspended particle to be removed by the centrifugal separator.  Other measurable changes to the water occur, as well.  It actually becomes denser and exhibits a lower surface tension.  These effects are temporary, lasting only a few minutes undisturbed.  That is why the TowerMate System exposes the water to intense, focused magnetic fields multiple times per cycle, and, of course, it cycles often in a recirculating system. 

 

The result of all this synergism is TowerMate.  It shuts off all bleed water in an evaporative cooling system, allowing the contaminant level to concentrate.  These excess contaminants, however, are crystallized and suspended.  Existing deposits are dissolved and suspended.  While in suspension, they are also subject to the ions produced by the Biocide Generator, which kill all microbiological growth. 

 

The attachment of these ions makes the suspended particles larger and heavier, which makes them even more susceptible to the Centrifugal Separator.  Aiding in keeping solids suspended, which eliminates microbiological harboring and pitting corrosion, TowerMate uses eductor nozzles in the sump.  The result is an entire cooling system that reMains clean like new without bleed water, chemicals, or Maintenance.  Heat transfer and savings are maximized.

TowerMate Synergism

  

TowerMate is a chemical-free system. This means elimination of the potential environmental hazards associated with chemical treatments, spills, disposal, and human exposure.

TowerMate significantly reduces makeup water requirements. System bleed (blowdown) is shut off. After existing scale is removed, water loss is reduced to less than one gallon per day.

TowerMate eliminates scale build-up on heat transfer surfaces. Intense magnetic fields cause calcite to revert to aragonite, effectively preventing scale building up and automatically de-scaling heat transfer services.

TowerMate reduces Maintenance requirements. There’s no need to manually clean heat exchangers or basins any more, and a simple weekly check includes only a biocide level test, a visual inspection of a lint trap and tool-less manual cleaning, if necessary. A press of the purge override button verifies operation of the automatic purge valve.

TowerMate maximizes system efficiencies, reducing operating costs. The elimination of scale build-up on heat transfer surfaces and pipes increases both heat transfer and pump efficiency. This reduces energy consumption and operating costs. Additionally, there is no passivation of heat transfer surfaces, as with ozone systems. Clean, non-passivated surfaces offer maximum heat transfer rate.

TowerMate extends equipment life. Oxidants are corrosive to cooling system metals. TowerMate’s dissolved ions are toxic to algae, bacteria, and viruses but are non-corrosive toward metals.

 

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