Keeping up with chemicals

Dr Neil Watson looks at some of the key drivers behind the increasing use of chemical water treatment and the resulting benefits.
Professional installers have witnessed an unprecedented level of change over the last decade due to increasing legislation and a revolutionary movement towards energy efficiency and renewable technologies. The scope of the market has expanded considerably, but the one thing that has remained constant is the importance of water treatment.
The renewables revolution
The revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations in 2010 first included renewable technologies and the legislated need for many of them to be protected with chemical water treatments. This was a landmark moment for the water treatment industry, but with installers having to digest so much new information on the latest systems, how they work and their best application, the importance of chemical water treatment sometimes gets lost.
With the Green Deal finally coming into effect at the beginning of 2013 – encouraging homeowners in England and Wales to undertake energy-efficient home improvements – the pressure on installers to understand the latest technologies will only increase. Ground source and air source heat pumps, and solar thermal systems are measures within the remit of the Green Deal, and installers should expect to see an increase in enquiries about them as homeowners look to take their first steps into renewable technologies.
Therefore, professional installers need to be aware of the specific vulnerabilities of these microgeneration systems and the levels of protection they require. As such, a whole new generation of chemical water treatments and heat transfer fluids have been introduced, such as Fernox’s Solar S1 or Heat Pump (HP) ranges, which now cater for the unique needs of renewable systems.
It is also expected that the Green Deal will have an impact on the domestic heating industry in terms of traditional heating systems as well. In all likelihood, boiler manufacturers will see an increase in sales as households look to upgrade old boilers, and installers must ensure that any new boilers are pre-commissioned correctly using BuildCert approved chemical water , such as Fernox’s Protector F1.
Without chemical water treatment, a traditional central heating system will be vulnerable to black oxide sludge (magnetite), which forms as a result of electrolytic corrosion and causes a reduction in heat transfer efficiency. A further 2% efficiency loss can also be caused by limescale deposition from the initial fill water and make-up water. In fact, tests have proven that, without the use of an inhibitor, a system can lose over 6% efficiency in just three weeks.
Filtration devices
One of the many recent industry changes has been a growing understanding of the important roles both chemicals and filters have to play together in order to maintain and improve energy efficiency in domestic central heating systems. Installers, especially those who attended any of the trade shows in 2012, will no doubt have noticed an influx of filters designed for central heating systems.
The latest filters are designed to provide the ultimate long-term protection for the boiler – ensuring the heat exchanger of the boiler is not damaged by system contaminants. For example, the Fernox TF1 Total Filter uses hydrocyclonic and magnetic action to remove and contain both magnetic and non-magnetic contaminants from central heating systems.

Revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations
Looking forward, further changes are likely to influence the chemical water treatment market as the latest set of revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations is announced later this year. Fernox has been heavily involved in the consultation process to push for the inclusion of filters.
It is absolutely crucial that installers understand that filters are designed to work in combination with chemical water treatment to keep systems working to optimum efficiency. A filter alone is not enough to adequately protect the system. Technology has simply allowed us to create a generation of filters that help us to provide ultimate system protection.
The importance of training
The domestic heating and chemical water treatment market is constantly evolving, and installers need to ensure that they remain informed of the key market drivers – as well as the latest products, processes and services available to them. Regular training is highly recommended and many manufacturers – Fernox included – are constantly working hard to ensure installers can benefit from easy access to both theory and practical sessions as well as web-based training.
[author image=”” ]After seven years with Cookson Electronics, Dr Neil Watson has a wealth of experience and expertise in the chemical water treatment market. Neil has a PhD in corrosion chemistry and is both Global Technical Director and head of Fernox Research and Development. A founding member of the Domestic Water Treatment Association (DWTA), Neil is also a member of the Heat Pump Association and the British Standards Committee, working to develop best practices for Solar Thermal Applications. [/author]