Ionization in Industry
The value of ionization technology in industry is becoming more widely recognized. The terminology is different from that used by the water ionizer industry in general as are the guidelines for use.
In this article we will address the terminology used in industrial/commercial water ionization, the basic principles as well as accepted industry uses.
“Water ionizers” and “ionized water” are the most common terms in the non-commercial/industrial world. In industry, “ionized water” is referred to as “electrolyzed water,” “electrolyzed oxidizing water” or “electrolyzed reduced water” referencing the electrolysis process used for production. In some documentation you will find it referenced simply as EO, EOW or ERW.
Other terms used are “FEW” or “functional electrolyzed water” or “AEW,” alkaline electrolyzed water. All terms are referring to water produced by water ionizers through the process of electrolysis.
Electrolyzed water is produced by passing water through an electrolysis chamber where it receives an electrical charge. In industry, sodium chloride is often used to produce stronger acidic water or hypochlorous acid, which is used for sterilizing surfaces and equipment.
During the electrolysis – or ionization – process, as the water receives the electrical charge delivered through the plates (electrodes) in the electrolysis chamber it is drawn to either a negative or positive pole by the mineral content of the water. This “separates” the water into strong acidic (hypochlorous acid) and strong alkaline, with each type of water being dispensed from a different outlet on the unit.
Electrolyzed water is primarily used for cleaning, sanitizing and sterilizing. Health & medical, food production, food service, hospitality, janitorial & custodial, agriculture and beverage industries are just a few of the industries where companies are choosing EOW over traditional methods of cleaning and sterilization.
In the beverage industry, equipment and hosing requires regular cleaning to prevent the growth and proliferation of bacteria and pathogens. Electrolyzed water is used similarly in agriculture and is becoming an increasingly popular choice because of its reduced impact on the health of animals.
Traditional cleaning and disinfectant solutions give off fumes and can leave residues that are harmful to animals. The free chlorine found in EOW or hypochlorous acid produced by commercial water ionizers dissipates quickly leaving little or no residue and causing no ill effects on the animals.
Research, testing and multiple studies continue to show that hypchlorous acid produced by commercial water ionizers is more effective at killing bacteria than chlorine or hypochlorite solutions traditionally used for sterilization. Not only has hypochlorous acid produced by commercial water ionizers proven more effective but it has also proven to be more effective in less time.
In tests for sterilizing colon bacilli, hypochlorous acid was able to reach 99% sterilization in 1.5 minutes where hypochlorite required 120 minutes to sterilize the same bacteria to 99%. (Source: US EPA)
Other research has shown that hypchlorous acid effectively sterilizes chlorine and ammonia-resistant bacteria.
The two primary benefits of using electrolyzed water for cleaning and sterilizing are cost and impact on both employees and the environment.
Tests have proven that electrolyzed water is non-toxic and will not irritate skin or mucous membranes. There is little or no odor and, because the hypochlorous acid produced for sterilizing dissipates quickly, there are no lingering fumes in the areas treated or where the EOW is produced.
Cost is also a major factor. EOW is produced “on demand” using only a local water supply and a sodium catalyst. A gallon of disinfectant can be produced for little more than the cost of a gallon of water and a little salt.
The shorter times required for effective sterilization reduce the number of time areas is shut down for cleaning, allowing for more production time and ultimately greater yields. The lack of fumes and residue reduce the need for protective gear some workers require when using traditional disinfectant chemicals.
No plastic containers going into landfills. No cleaning solutions or detergents going down the drain and back into the eco-system. Electrolyzed water is produced as needed, on site with little or no impact on the environment.