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Electrolytic Bromine: A Green Biocide for Cooling Towers

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While water is the best material for transfer of heat and use as an evaporative cooler, its use in cooling towers presents a biological control problem as warm water is an excellent medium for growth of microorganisms. The uncontrolled growth of microorganisms in cooling water causes severe problems related to increased risk of Legionnaires' Disease, plugging due to physical blockage of cooling water passages, accelerated corrosion under biological masses, and reduced heat exchanger efficiency due to biofouling of surfaces. Current technology for biological control of cooling water uses an estimated 40 million lbs/yr of dangerous to handle, hazardous/toxic chemicals such as chlorine, ozone, chlorine dioxide, dithiocarbamate, isothiazolin, and glutaraldehyde in the estimated 300,000 cooling towers located throughout the country. While these chemicals are often quite effective for biological control use, they have numerous problems such as high cost, corrosivity issues, health and safety concerns, security concerns, environmental problems, selective effectiveness on an organism basis, accidental spill problems, and incompatibility with other cooling water additives. Bromine has been recognized as an effective biological control agent for many years which, due to its rapid degradation to harmless bromide, is not a persistent pollutant. We have invented a novel, economic process for producing bromine at the point of use by electrolysis from a nonhazardous aqueous solution of sodium bromide and chloride. Produced electrolytic bromine is used to totally replace use of hazardous/toxic chemical biocides for control of microorganisms in cooling towers. The chemistry and equipment of this novel process as well as economics, environmental impact, and health & safety aspects will be discussed and compared to existing biocide technology.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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