Will Clean Water Act 316b Regulations End Chemical Cooling Water Treatment Programs?

The implementation of EPA’s 316b cooling water intake rules for impingement and entrainment mortality certainly present formidable challenges to power plants and industrials. The effort becomes all the more daunting with uncertainty on the application of the regulations on a site-by-site basis by individual Federal and State permit writers, and the lingering potential for legal challenges that could modify the requirements in the future.  While pessimism about clearly defining Best Technology Available (BTA) may be justified, it is also possible to see the rules as an imposed opportunity to give attention to often overlooked cooling water systems whose performance can significantly impact plant efficiency.

Using the regulatory process as incentive, there is an opportunity to acquire resources necessary to rigorously review the current facilities and performance, future objectives, and evaluate the best options in light of the plant’s goals.  The process also provides for extensive consideration of non-environmental factors in determining BTA.  Some of the most important of these include: reliability and cost of electric service, plant efficiency impacts, technical feasibility, financial costs and benefits, age of the plant, and social costs.  BTA will not be an absolute number, but a demonstration of best overall environmental and other costs and benefits.  While assessing this for each 316b program option will demand significant effort, when approached as an exercise to improve plant and financial performance along with the environmental goals, the process can become a win-win rather than simply a regulatory burden.

To see a more detailed presentation with examples related to chemical treatment programs please click here!

Don’t Miss The New EPA Approved Biocide Program Introduced at AWT

The 2014 AWT Annual Convention & Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas is only a week away and Mexel USA will be introducing its products including a new, EPA registered biocide at Booth #516 (with Amchem Solutions) and presenting in a technical session. Our cooling water treatment chemicals have great characteristics for water treatment companies – powerful results, while saving both space and labor. Together with Amchem Solutions’ expertise, our environmentally superior products offer easier and safer chemical programs, especially for demanding client applications.

The brochure below introduces our products and explains how a single chemical treatment can control a wide range of fouling and corrosion problems. So please stop by our booth or join us on Saturday morning at 9:00 am for our technical session titled “Beyond Corrosion Control: Sustainable Filming Amine Technology Applications for Cooling Water Systems”.


Nominate Your Favorite Carbon Control Strategy

EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan regulations to reduce carbon emissions are having an immediate effect at the federal and state levels. Regulatory agencies responsible for energy, environment and commerce at the state and local are already engaged in studies and planning for options to meet the stricter standards for existing power plants, particularly coal. Because reducing carbon emissions can also have a significant effect on reliability and economic competitiveness, options beyond emissions control technology will be considered as part of the mix. These options can include improved energy efficiency in generation, the appropriate role for nuclear in the generation mix, improved efficiency from customers, renewables, storage, load management, etc. It will be important to fully explore all options to meet the carbon goal efficiently and with the least disruption to each state. Sometimes technologies that individually seem to make small contributions can become significant when combined effectively in a comprehensive plan.

The final rule is expected from EPA June 1, 2015. State implementation plans are expected to be submitted by June, 2016, but the development of basic strategy is happening now. Stakeholders from all segments and levels in the energy and environmental communities should engage now at the federal level to assure workable federal carbon control rules are developed and at the state level where the specific solutions are starting to be crafted. For more information on how to comment on the EPA rule, click here.

More EPA regulation of your pond or outfall?

September 10th, the US House of Representatives passed HR 5078 prohibiting EPA from expanding its definition of “US waters” to be regulated under the Clean Water Act. Potentially more wetlands, intermittent streams and other seasonal surface waters could be included. This could impact large and small cooling water system discharges, along with recently announced 316b rules. This may be something you want to know more about and EPA is still accepting comments on the proposed rules

For different points of view, try:

National Association of Counties Policy Brief:

Trench Warfare:

Mexel and Biodiversity

While protecting Endangered species and their habitats is an important goal implicit in the new 316b rules, many utilities are understandably concerned about what standards will be applied and when this will come in the permitting process. Because actions under the rules will affect listed species and critical habitats that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have responsibility for, these agencies may be involved in the process at points that have not been clearly defined. Further, non-governmental groups may use these issues to challenge permits.

Developing a sound plan that appropriately balances the protection of listed species with allowing reasonable operation of plants will be a site-by-site challenge. The 316b regulations already specify the specific studies and technologies required, but the evaluation of that data will be critical. The good news is that a great deal of study has already been conducted in the field and laboratories on specific plant sites and technology. One of the best tools for assessing the impacts are biodiversity studies that help evaluate the health of existing defined ecosystems to changes in conditions over a period of time.

For example, four studies of bottom-dwelling organisms in the discharge canal of a power plant were conducted over ten years. Looking at the combined effect of chemical and thermal discharge, water velocity, and sedimentology characteristics, no deterioration of biodiversity was observed throughout the period a few hundred yards from the discharge. In evaluating the effects on complex and constantly changing ecosystems and target species, these “real life” assessments tell us much more about the real impacts of cooling water intakes and discharges. Assembling a database of similar information could be of great value is implementation of 316b proceeds.

For more information on Mexel’s low toxicity and ability to maintain biodiversity click here!

2014 EPRI Debris Management Interest Group Annual Workshop Abstract

The adoption of the new Clean Water Act 316b intake structure regulations issued in May 2014 adds a significantly expanded challenge to provide “green” technology in power plants while maintaining efficient and reliable plant operations. In developing compliance plans, a number of technologies have been endorsed by EPA as acceptable for use to control impingement mortality. In contrast, each plant will also need to develop its own program to find the Best Technology Available (BTA) to lower entrainment mortality based on site-specific factors. With the burden now on individual plants, the determination of BTA will also include consideration of economic and qualitative factors including plant efficiency. Current practice at many plants includes chemical-based programs to control a wide range of fouling problems and ensure reliable operations. These practices will come under increased scrutiny, but may in some cases constitute BTA compared to other technologies and be essential to ensure reliability of plant operations.

The role of chemical treatment programs in the context of comprehensive compliance planning will be examined. New regulations will allow state permit writer to look in every case at a wide variety of factors that will be discussed. They will also review more closely at the use of chemicals and justifications may need to be presented. Documentation on how the chemicals can be used alone or in combination with mechanical devices will need to be provided and documented as part of the compliance research and planning process. Comparisons with other chemicals in general and/or specific chemicals with regard to certain species of concern may be required.

For more information on Mexel and Clean Water Act 316(b) click here!

Beyond Corrosion Control: Sustainable Filming Amine Technology Applications for Cooling Water Systems

A Distributor’s Perspective – Mary Wolter Glass, Mexel USA, LLC


Innovative filming amine blends offer a new paradigm in cooling water treatment. They are the leading edge Green Technology for cooling towers and once-through systems to control corrosion, biofouling, and scaling with one biodegradable emulsion that can be safely used in the environment. Extensive laboratory research, supported by almost two decades of commercial use around the world, has demonstrated its efficacy. With increasing regulation of chemical discharges to the environment, successful adoption Green Technologies that meet higher standards will fall on AWT members. This paper will address the science behind filming amines and their environmental benefits. Then, the field experience and treatment programs from companies that have used and rigorously tested the amines will be shared. Using filming amines in cooling water systems provides a treatment method that is different from traditional chemicals which treat the entire water column.

Some Filming Amine History

Filming amines have been used for decades, particularly in boiler condensate systems, to control corrosion. The amine group of the molecule is hydrophilic so it will attach to wetted surfaces, while the “tail” is hydrophobic providing protection of the metal surfaces from corrosive condensates. Amines have been developed in a number of formulations over the years. Octadecylamine (CH3(CH2)16CH2NH2) has been the most widely applied amine salt in the past. Although amines have been successfully used with volatile oxygen scavengers in previously corroded systems, they are most effective in preventing corrosion in new systems. Historically, filming amine programs have required careful management to avoid a variety of problems including clogging and blockage of traps.1

Dosing programs for filming amines in condensate systems were based on the internal surface area of the system rather than system volume. These programs work have worked well in feedwater that was highly alkaline or had air in-leakage because they did not attempt to neutralize the CO2. In water with a pH above 8.0 or below 6.5, previous amine regimes sometimes required additional chemicals to condition the water for the amines to be effective. Treatment programs typically started with low levels of amines, gradually increasing to desired residual concentrations that are effective without potential adverse impacts, such as developing sticky masses (“gunk balls”) that can clog the system.2,3

Amine programs and products have evolved over time and a large number are now available for condensate treatment and other fouling problems. Cocoaalkylamine and diaminepropane have
been deployed in products designed for open and closed cooling water systems to control corrosion and as a molluscicide.4

As the newest innovative filming amine blends have continued to evolve, they now offer a new paradigm beyond boiler condensate treatment to new applications in cooling water treatment with a strong focus on prevention and low environmental impact. Their unique features provide leading edge “green technology” for cooling towers and once-through systems. Unlike single purpose amine blends, some are blends that address multiple problems.

Multipurpose filming amine applications to cooling water – An Example

Cooling water treatment programs for cooling towers and once-through applications are designed to address three common forms of fouling that decrease the efficiency of heat transfer. Depending on the site-specific requirements, traditional chemical treatment programs have included chemicals to control corrosion, prevent or remove silt and/or mineral deposits, and control or remediate biological growth. Corrosion inhibitors include filming and neutralizing amines, metal-based inhibitors (e.g. molybdates and salts of zinc) and nonmetal-based inhibitors (e.g. inorganic phosphates, phosphonates, aromatic azoles, nitrates, etc.).5 Control of deposits from various constituents found in the cooling water is often achieved through the use of polyphosphates, organophosphorus compounds such as phosphonates, chelants, polymeric agents and other chemicals.6 Control and remediation of bio-fouling is also a critical concern in a cooling water treatment program due to its pervasive nature and significant effect on the efficiency of heat transfer. A wide variety of oxidizing and non-oxidizing biocides are in use including the popular chlorine and bromine. The frequency of application and concentrations of chemicals used for treatment vary widely, depending on the site-specific problems, equipment configuration, operating parameters and regulatory requirements.

New specialty blends of filming amines offer single products that can address all three major areas of concern for fouling of cooling water systems. One product, Mexel 432/0, exemplifies how this is accomplished and the potential benefits for water treatment professionals. The filming amine emulsion provides a molecular coating to the wetted internal surfaces of the water circuit in a manner similar to filming amines in condensate systems. In doing so it prevents all three kinds of fouling, keeping the cooling systems cleanliness consistently high, and maintaining efficient heat transfer. This particular product can be employed in fresh, salt and reclaimed water, and is most effective in new or newly cleaned systems. Some remedial effect on existing systems has occurred over time as shown in the figure below. Unlike most other amine emulsions targeted at cooling water systems, this emulsion has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a biocide for use in cooling water systems – open and recirculating.

The product is injected into the cooling water using a chemical pump with automated control of the dosing rate and timing. Because the emulsion replaces several chemicals, is in a concentrated form, and requires only small quantities, the equipment and space used is minimized. Biweekly or monthly monitoring includes visual inspection, chemical residual measurements, feed calibration, and adjustments as needed. Metrics monitored include conductivity, pump calibration, feed time, corrosion, pH, and total bacteria counts.

Laboratory testing has determined that this emulsion is effective in forming films on all common cooling and heating equipment internal surfaces including metals, plastics, weldings and concrete. Extensive testing has also determined that the emulsion has no detectable adverse effect on materials used in typical cooling water systems. This specific amine emulsion is not volatile and does not burn or explode.

Since 2007, the amine blend has been in commercial use in more than 30 chiller/cooling tower applications in the Mid-Atlantic region preventing corrosion and scaling significantly lowering cleaning requirements, while maintaining good biological control. It has also been used in once-through cooling water applications at the heating and cooling plant for a large DOD facility and a major Naval base in the Mid-Atlantic area, as well as a power plant owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Other operating experience over two decades of commercial use around the world, has further confirmed its efficacy. In a large cooling tower at a nuclear plant in France, the emulsion reduced pathogenic amoeba by factors of 8 to 10 by removing the habitat that fostered biological growth. In Poland, two cooling towers at a fertilizer factor used the product to stop pitting and new perforations to heat exchangers by reducing corrosion to less than 0.1 mm/yr. In addition, it stabilized the water pH at 8.6 and reduced sediment by 50% while acting as an effective bacteriostatic agent. The product has also been used in ships, offshore oil platforms, oil fields, geothermal, hydropower and fire-fighting equipment.

New filming amine emulsions vary significantly in cost but, based on overall program costs, are comparable to traditional programs on an annual basis. Secondary financial benefits from the ability to maintain cleanliness of the system can also accrue. These include improved heat transfer efficiencies that can be significant in chiller systems, along with reduced maintenance and annual cleaning costs. Estimates of annual savings from fully effective chiller water treatment for a 300 ton chiller range from $13,000 to $20,000. Other secondary benefits result from lower risks to employee health and safety (as well as the public), from non-volatile amines which are less dangerous to handle, and transport than some chemicals.

Why filming amines are “green technology”

Environmental performance and safety have always been important components of any water treatment program. Increasingly, there is a focus on using “green technologies” and customers are specifying them in their designs and procurement planning. Water treatment specialists must respond with sustainable water treatment programs that are equally effective and cost competitive. New alternative treatment programs, such as specialized filming amines, are now being demonstrated that can make a more significant positive impact on environmental performance than previously recognized.

Using Mexel 432/0 as an example again, filming amines can reduce the total chemical load in surface waters by 1) providing a single chemical that replaces the use of multiple chemicals to treat common fouling problems, and 2) providing an alternative to some traditional chemicals that have been identified as problematic when discharged to surface waters and/or are more hazardous to workers and the public. The emulsion is designed to work effectively at the lowest level of lethality to aquatic organisms possible.

The method of action of the amine emulsion is different from most conventional treatments.
The product is not focused on delivering a lethal dose or aggressively trying to remove fouling that has built up over time due to ineffective on-going control. Used on a cleaned system, the Mexel 432/0 is intended to prevent and control fouling from progressing. This film prevents biofilms from gaining a foothold that can lead to corrosion, deposits, and poor heat transfer. It also helps prevent the build-up of layers of fouling that are hard to penetrate and allow some microbes become resistant to conventional treatments. When these problems are prevented, the amount of chemicals required and introduced to the environment for routine treatment, remedial chemical treatment, and other special maintenance (e.g. acid tube cleaning) is substantially reduced.

Because of the product’s filming characteristics it is readily adsorbed onto organic material in the cooling water. Upon discharge, it rapidly disappears from the water column and then is readily biodegradable in the environment and does not form hazardous byproducts. Further, extensive laboratory and field testing have shown huge safety factors relative to humans and benign environmental impact of the amine product when used as directed. In addition, because the amine films are chemically bonded to the interior surfaces, continuous treatment is not required. Instead, short daily doses of extremely small quantities reduce the potential for chemical exposures.

The frequency of application and concentrations of chemicals used for cooling water treatment can vary widely, depending on the plant-specific requirements, from occasional, concentrated “slug” dosing for remediation to continuous low level dosing for prevention and control. Since the mid-1970’s, extensive research studies conducted by the EPA have recognized the adverse impacts of chlorine on aquatic species (Hergott, et al., 1978). One study found that even routine, short term exposure of larval and juvenile fish to short-term exposure to chlorine levels of <0.2 ppm produce “significant biological effect” (Gentile, et al., 1976). The same study identifies complete growth inhibition at 0.3 ppm after only 5 minutes in some algal species. Many large cooling water systems now have a limit on chlorine use to 0.2 ppm for no more than two hours per day, but some states (e.g. Maryland) are currently seeking further reductions in discharges, or de-chlorination before discharge. Chlorine gas is toxic to mammals by inhalation; very hazardous to workers; has the potential for significant community hazards in the event of a release; and can vaporize creating human health and explosion dangers that are difficult to control. Chlorine based pesticides are also physically unstable and very corrosive to many materials. The breakdown of chlorine based compounds can form a variety of hazardous chemicals, including haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, bromamines, and chloramines.

Other chemicals used in cooling water applications including biocides, corrosion and scale inhibitors, and water conditioners can have additional adverse environmental effects.

An AWT Member’s Experience – David Boyle, Chemstar

International Chemstar Incorporated, trading as Chemstar, is a regional water treatment company and AWT member. Chemstar first became aware of filming amine technology for cooling water when we lost a few accounts so that our customer could run a trial with this new technology.

When we found out the small amounts of the Mexel 432/0 that would be fed, only once daily, we predicted it would fail. But by the end of the first season the customer was so pleased with the results they expanded the number of sites to use this new treatment and we lost more business.

Adopting an “If you can’t beat them, join them!” attitude, we were able to start offering this filming amine emulsion to our own customers. We have evaluated the product’s performance and have tried to learn all of its limitations. We developed an economical feed system, adopted a lower cost test kit, and experimented with biocides that we can use in conjunction with the product.

We have been using this filming amine technology for 4 years. The products advantages over conventional water treatment have been well received by our customers and prospective customers. We’ve learned quite a bit from our experience in the field with alternative treatment regimens and are confident of its efficacy.


We currently use filming technology in cooling towers of in office buildings, medical centers, Federal and local government buildings. It is also used in cooling water for large air compressors that have bleed off that goes to outfalls that go to environmentally sensitive creeks and rivers. We also use an EPA Registered product filming amine emulsion in a once-through system to control Asiatic Clams. The largest once-through application is for reduction of Copper corrosion rates and therefore Copper discharges. Without treatment the Copper discharges were in violation of permitted limits. Azoles were used previously to lower the corrosion rates but were replaced with filming amine technology.

How this technology can be used in cooling water.

In cooling towers we determine or estimate the volume of the system. The required dose is dependent on the surface area in the system. The treatment protects the surfaces. This correlates to the volume. Water quality and cleanliness of the condenser water system are also factors on the demand for treatment. The estimated dose is added to the system where it can be dispersed rapidly. Control tests are run every 5 minutes to see how high it goes before it disappears. The feed rate is determined and the pump and timer is set to feed that amount each day. Similar to microbiocides, the bleed is locked out for 20- 30 minutes after feeding. By the time the bleed reopens all of the treatment is attached to surfaces in the system. This results in no detectable discharge.
In order for the service representative to retest the dosage on service calls they must be there when the timer activates the pump or manually start a timed feeding before sampling. After establishing a feed rate the control test can be run as infrequently as the service representative feels comfortable with as long as he can verify that it is being fed. That is why we feed the product out of a calibrated column to show exactly how much has been feed since the last service call.

After the feed rate is established a future service call would include :

Recording the amount fed since the last service call

• Calculating the average daily feed rate
• Refilling the graduated columns
• Make feed adjustments if needed.
• Water Analysis- testing of treatment level is optional

Utilizing this technology simplifies the service call and can eliminates the need for multiple, separate chemical deliveries.

Where we see this technology as a good fit:

Systems with environmental concerns.

In cooling towers and once through systems the environmental impact is very low to none. The treatment is fed at low dosages 4-5ppm for only 20 minutes a day. The treatment is consumed forming a barrier on surfaces of heat exchangers, piping, and equipment.

Applications where environment is a concern.

Very little, if any, treatment is released to the environment. Our experience has been that where NPDES permits are required, the Department of the Environment in those States (Maryland and Virginia) has approved its use.

Applications where space is a concern.

Another advantage that customers like is the small amount of space that is required for the feed system. Only a small amount of product is needed on site. Some customers that like the solid feed systems due to the small foot print in mechanical rooms. This technology offers the same advantages.

Business Perspective

There is no shortage of competition in the water treatment business. As there is more competition selling the same old technology the profit margins decrease. Smart water treatment companies try to differentiate themselves from their competition. Nalco has always relied on new technology that they develop and then patent. Then, they would market it and maintain higher margins while keeping out the competition. Some examples of this are Transport Plus and Trasar Technology.

In a search for “green”, easier to use treatment programs, some water treatment companies have gone back to selling solids instead of liquids. It comes packaged in different ways and the feed methods vary. The cost of the feed systems can be expensive and troublesome. Some of the advantages of solids are lower shipping costs, easy to handle, no big storage tanks and a smaller footprint. At the end of the day, however, it is still the same treatment program chemistry that is normally offered.

Filming amine emulsions in cooling water work in a totally different way than standard cooling water treatment. Due to the low dosages and no detectable level of discharge, it is as close to not using “chemicals” as you can get without being a NCD (Non Chemical Device).

The “no chemicals” advantage of NCD is often used to replace standard water treatment accounts. There are a variety of disadvantages to NCD’s but one of the greatest is high capital equipment cost. Filming amine technology in cooling water offers the key advantages of both solid treatment and the NCD. Recent efforts to make this technology available to smaller water treatment companies created an opportunity to offer something new and Green to your prospects. It gives the salesmen something new to talk about to the prospect.

1. Ashland Chemical Company, Drew Industrial Division, 1994. Principles of Industrial Water Treatment, p. 230-231.
2. Nalco Company, 2009. The Nalco Water Handbook, Daniel J Flynn, Editor, Third Edition, p 13.19-13.20.
3. Deborah M. Bloom, “Advanced Amines Cut Condensate Erosion”, 2001. Power Magazine, July/Aug. 20001, Ondeo Nalco, Co.
4. Colin Frayne, CWT, Aquassurance, Inc. The Analyst, 2009. Association for Water Treatment, Volume 16, Number 4 p. 24-33.
5. Ashland, 1994, p. 13.19
6. Ashland, 1994, p 15.32

Chlorine – leak even in well run nuclear plant. See alternatives – effective, safe to ship and use.

On May 28th there was a chlorine leak at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant and luckily there were no injuries. See: http://www.app.com/story/news/local/southern-ocean-county/lacey/2014/05/28/oyster-creek-chlorine-leak/9676877/

The US nuclear power industry has one of the best safety records in the world with strict oversight, strong industry initiatives to continuously improve safety and performance, and an excellent track record in safety. However, even in the well-run plants, there is always the possibility of undetected problems and human failure to adhere to procedures. For this reason, the use of potentially hazardous materials such as chlorine need to be carefully considered. Not only are there hazards at the plants, there are hazards to the public from transport and use of chlorine. An article in Environmental Health News, “Special report: Chlorine accidents rupture life for workers, townspeople”, notes that the US Department of Transportation and the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration have documented the high risks of chlorine. See http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2011/chlorine-accidents/.

We can do better! Much safer alternatives to chlorine exist for power plants. Mexel products are documented to be much safer, but are still as effective a biocide as chlorine. In addition, Mexel 432/0 addresses other fouling problems such as corrosion, scaling and sedimentation in cooling water systems. Aimed at preventing fouling using a coating mechanism, Mexel is effective at lower toxicity levels. Mexel 432/0 will not volatilize or cause severe damage to those who inhale the fumes so, in case of a leak, no breathing apparatus is even required. Mexel cannot burn or explode and cannot be weaponized for malicious use. Doesn’t it make sense to try something new?

“Green” Chemicals Continue to Play a Critical Role in Water Quality


As Water Quality Products reported on April 18th, EPA has just announced its “2014 to 2018 Strategic Plan” with goals that include protecting US waters, ensuring the safety of chemicals and protecting human health and the environment through enhanced compliance activities. The article notes that EPA “will continue its efforts to improve water quality, given the nation’s significant water infrastructure needs, focusing on common-sense, flexible approaches that rely on sustainable solutions, such as green infrastructure…” To accomplish these goals, they envision working more closely with other levels of government and industry to deliver environmental benefits in a pragmatic way.

While in the minds of some, chemicals have played a necessary but unappealing role in the past, they continue to be essential in supplying water of acceptable quality for a wide range of uses from drinking to industrial process water. Similarly, chemicals are necessary for wastewater treatment to ensure that these discharges meet all standards for environmental acceptability. Still, popular discussions of new options for water treatment usually focus on technologies that totally eliminate the need for the use of any chemicals. Sometimes the enthusiasm for adopting these chemical-free technologies leads to installations that are not adequately vetted to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability.

Looking forward, chemical water treatments continue to hold great promise as one of the tools that can most effectively meet EPA’s goals for “green” technology to promote human and environmental health. Many new chemicals are being offered in the markets and innovative applications of established chemicals now provide significant opportunities for immediate use to improve water quality.

Further, some chemical options do facilitate water reuse promising benefits for the efficient use of our water supply. As discussed in “Efficient and Effective Water Reuse” (WQP November 11, 2013), this practice is becoming a necessity for economic and regulatory reasons in some locales. With water supplies increasingly burdened with greater demand and heightened regulatory pressure for recycling, chemicals that permit these alternatives to be adopted are increasingly important.

“Green” Water Treatment

In developing better chemical alternatives that meet a specific application’s requirements it is important to recognize that the shortcomings associated with chemicals can come from the nature of each specific chemical employed, as well as the design of its dosing program. Additional risks can result from the interactive effects from using more than one chemical in the program, or the cumulative effects of the program over time. The safe handling of chemicals is also a key consideration to protect humans and the environment. New chemicals and treatment programs have been developed that address each of these situations.

Finding acceptable chemicals can be a challenge. For example, oxidizing biocides, have long played important roles in providing safe drinking water and to control biological contamination of non-potable water circuits including cooling tower and industrial process applications. The benefits and risks associated with these chemicals are well understood and can be responsibly delivered in well-designed programs. Still, concerns remain regarding some characteristics of their use including byproducts and cumulative effect of large scale use on the aquatic environment. While research into alternatives is underway, any call for an immediate ban on chlorine without demonstrated, reliable substitutes would be irresponsible.

The good news is that promising alternatives are emerging. For biological control, some non-oxidizing biocides that are less toxic or have fewer problem byproducts are now on the market. Multi-functional chemicals have been developed that minimize chemical load and potential chemical interactions. Some chemicals are now available in solid or concentrated form that allow for steady, slow release and/or safer handling. Some chemicals can now be generated on-site at small to medium scale reducing the potential for accidental chemical releases on-site and in transit. Chemicals that reduce fouling in water circuits can also improve heat transfer and lower energy requirements.

Many new chemicals can be combined effectively with other mechanical technologies such as filters, reverse osmosis, and continuous tube cleaning devices for greater efficiency and lower environmental impact. Similarly, modifications in operations and dosing patterns can significantly reduce the effects of chemicals. Sequential dosing of separate parts of the water circuit has been successfully used to dilute chemical concentrations. Timing of dosing and discharge can also be adjusted to minimize environmental impacts, without sacrificing the critical functions performed by the water system.

Chemicals and Water Supply

Chemicals can play a strategic role in water reclamation and reuse, especially for industry, power plants and heating and cooling facilities that are the largest consumers of water. Industry and power plants use large volumes of water in open and recirculating cooling systems. Cooling towers for HVAC also are very large consumers of water although they are spread out in hundreds of thousands of heating and cooling systems across the country. Other applications of reclaimed water include: agriculture, landscaping, public parks, golf course irrigation, dust control, construction activities, concrete mixing, and artificial lakes. Each of these applications will save fresh water supplies if the water quality requirements for the application can be met. Chemicals allow this to happen by effectively treating wastewater from municipal plants, process and cooling water from industrials, power plants to acceptable levels for these applications. Effective treatment that allows recycling and reuse will also lower the total level of discharges to the environment.

Green Chemical Strategies in Practice

Cooling Water Treatment

Water treatment programs for HVAC and industrial scale cooling water systems are universal across the country and provide an important service to maintain the efficiency and life expectancy of the equipment. Traditional treatment programs have addressed a wide range of fouling problems from biological to mineral scaling and corrosion using combinations of up to five or six chemical depending on the unique problems at each site. Some of these chemicals are receiving increasing scrutiny from regulatory authorities, in some cases limiting the dosing times and levels, as well as the discharge concentrations allowed into municipal wastewater systems or surface waters.

Among the potential chemicals available to address these problems is a single emulsion recently approved by the USEPA that prevents most types of fouling in cooling systems. The Mexel product is a blend of filming amines that addresses fouling by using a molecular coating mechanism to thwart microbiological and other fouling, rather than remediate it by treating the entire water column. The coating is renewed daily with brief injections, is biodegradable, and has lower toxicity and no dangerous byproducts compared to conventional treatment programs.

In use in other countries for more than 20 years, it has been proven effective in controlling potential health risks from macro- and micro-biofouling in applications of all sizes. The product has been effective in a wide range of water conditions including fresh and salt water, making it a viable choice for reclaimed water applications. The concentrated formula is easier to handle and safer for the public and environment because it cannot burn, explode, volatilize, or be weaponized as some other chemicals. Research has shown that it does not adversely affect municipal wastewater treatment systems and can be safely discharged into surface water under applicable permits. Field studies have documented improved heat transfer and energy efficiency resulting from fouling control as well.

Water reuse and reclamation

One of the most established uses of reclaimed water is reconditioned municipal wastewater employed for cooling and process water in industry and power plants. DOE has determined than over 60 plants are current users with more in development. Regulatory initiatives at the federal and state levels indicate the potential for significant expansion. To accomplish this, chemical treatment of the wastewater for each intended use will be necessary. For example, in power plant cooling uses, after removing suspended solids and other contaminants, the treated water usually requires antimicrobial treatment, as well as anti-corrosives, anti-scalants, surfactants, and/or neutralizers before reuse. If the cooling water or cooling tower blow-down is not recycled, the impacts of these additives must be taken into consideration when discharging. By using new chemicals in combination with innovative dosing programs and mechanical devices, this important “new” water resource can be fully realized and many locations in the US.

While it may seem paradoxical, adding new chemicals for water treatment can play an important, beneficial role in meeting EPA’s water quality and water supply goals. The challenge is to identify and implement the best available technologies that protect the human and natural environment most efficiently.

EPA Approves Broader Application of Cooling Water Technology to Improve Power Plant Efficiency

Washington, DC. – February 25, 2014 – Owners and operators of large once-through and recirculating cooling water systems now have a powerful new tool to address efficiency losses and fouling in their water circuits and heat exchangers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved these expanded uses for the Mexel 432/0 water treatment technology to address biofouling, in addition to its capabilities to combat corrosion, scale, and sedimentation. An emulsion injected directly into the water for short periods each day, creates a protective coating on wetted surfaces to prevent problems before they develop, maintain high cleanliness factors, and promote sustainable plant operations.

“We are gratified that EPA has recognized Mexel 432/0 as an environmentally viable product to address the persistent fouling problems encountered in many plants. With intense competition in the wholesale generation markets, the ability to improve performance by as little as 0.5% to 1.0% can have a significant impact on dispatch,” expressed Mary Wolter Glass, President of Arlington-based Mexel USA LLC.

EPA’s risk assessment also found that Mexel 432/0 poses no “higher risks to aquatic organisms than alternative chemical substances that could be used as biofoulants”. For facilities with existing NPDES surface water discharge permits, the use of this product should be equally acceptable and pose no “increased regulatory burden for permit writers”.

This significantly expands Mexel USA’s ability to supply utility, industrial, and institutional plants with Mexel’s innovative and highly effective products. Mexel USA’s core products, Mexel 432, MexClear and MexSteam, are considered superior environmentally, technically and financially to traditional water treatment programs. These “green” solutions work equally well in large water-cooling systems such as power and industrial plants, as well as smaller commercial, institutional, government, school, and office facilities. The environmental performance, compact size, simplicity, and safety for workers and the public make it an especially valuable innovation for water treatment.

Mexel USA, LLC, the exclusive importer and supplier of Mexel® filming amine emulsions for water treatment, offers design, installation, and/or operation of all Mexel water-treatment products and systems. Its products are manufactured by Mexel Industries SAS, France, whose emulsions are based on extensive research and development and produced from organic substances to be safe for the environment. Mexel products have been used in the US for more than five years with operating experience in more than 50 facilities, and world-wide for two decades.

Mexel USA LLC Announces Master Distributorship With Amchem Solutions

Washington, DC. – January 6, 2014 — Mexel USA LLC, exclusive U.S. distributor of Mexel® anti-fouling products, announced today that it has signed a strategic agreement with American Chemstar, Inc., trading as Amchem Solutions, to become its master distributor to all members of the Association of Water Technology. With proven success in power plants and large industrials, Mexel USA is pleased to partner with AmChem Solutions to implement this innovative technology to benefit a wider range of small to mid-sized water treatment applications.

Mexel USA’s core products, Mexel 432, MexClear and MexSteam, are considered superior environmentally, technically and financially to traditional water treatment programs. These “green” solutions work equally well in large water-cooling systems such as power and industrial plants, as well as smaller commercial, institutional, government, school, and office facilities. The environmental performance, compact size, simplicity, and safety for workers and the public make it an especially valuable innovation for water treatment. Amchem Solutions will provide a wide range of Mexel products along with technical support to water treatment companies across the US based on their own operating experience in more than 50 facilities.

The far-reaching agreement significantly expands Mexel USA’s capabilities to supply utility, industrial and institutional plants with Mexel’s innovative products. Manufactured by Mexel Industries SAS, France, these emulsions are based on extensive research and development and produced from organic substances to be safe for the environment. These products reduce fouling from biological and chemical sources, optimize cooling efficiency, and lower operating costs.

Mexel USA, LLC, the sole United States distributor of Mexel products, offers design, installation, and/or operation of all Mexel water-treatment products and systems. Mexel USA is based in Arlington, VA. For more information on Mexel please visit http://www.mexelusa.com.

Amchem Solutions is a full service distributor of innovative chemical water treatment programs crafted to meet the special needs of each unique client. Drawing on an extensive selection of chemicals, Amchem Solutions is able to create programs for boilers, chillers, cooling towers, and closed loop systems in industry, buildings, schools, government facilities, heating and cooling plants, and hospitals. Amchem Solutions president, David Boyle, is a technical consultant and formerly an AWT member technical director, with more than 30 years of experience in water technology and treatment applications. Amchem Solutions is located in Delaware and Baltimore. For further information please visit www.amchemsolutions.com

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