Magnetic water treatment

Magnetic water treatment
Magnetic Water Treatment Sketch
General Arrangement of MWT Apparatus

Magnetic Water treatment[1] usually by the application of a changing Magnetic flux is a proposed method of water softening[2] The flux change may be deliberately caused by an electromagnet or the result of water flowing near a permanent magnet, usually in a pipe surrounded by the magnetic water treatment transducer device. Magnetic water treatment (also known as Anti-scale Magnetic Treatment or AMT) is a proposed method of reducing the effects of hard water, as an alternative to water softening.[3] Vendors of magnetic water treatment devices have claimed that powerful magnetic fields can affect the structure of water molecules or the properties of solutes passing through the magnetic field, thus eliminating the need for chemical softening agents.[4][5] Only the effective hardness is claimed to be altered; no solutes (such as calcium or magnesium) are removed from the water by the process.[3][4]

Most scientific studies[6] do not support these claims and suggest that magnetic water treatment may be ineffective. Certainly many, perhaps most claims for small domestic apparatus may be pseudoscientific because the magnetic field, if it works at all, would have to be very powerful, and this high flux is not easily achieved in a small space.

However there is some evidence of some effect, for example K. W. Busch, M.A. Busch~Desalination 109 (1997)[7] agree that many reports are "...generally negative [quoted:J.E. Alleman(1985)].Fluid flow in .. systems... [ẁhich are].. slow and intermittent. Other types of once-through testing should also produce negative results [quoted: G.J.C. Limpert and J.L. Raber (1985)]. On the other hand, it should not be surprising that two of the most recent field successes reported for these devices [quoted: J.F. Grutsch and J.W. McClintock (1982) & R.J. Szostak and D.A. Toy(1985)] involved constantly recirculating cooling towers where sufficient linear fluid flow velocity was maintained continually, the solution was repeatedly recirculated through the [Magnetic Treatment Device] MTV, and the solution conductivity was relatively high and increased with increasing cycles of concentration.".



Duration of exposure and field strength, gradient, rate of change, and orientation along or perpendicular to flow are variously cited as important to the results.[8] Magnetic water treatment proponent Klaus Kronenberg proposed that the shapes of solute lime molecules are modified by strong magnetic fields, leading them to precipitate as spherical or round crystals rather than deposit as sheets or platelets of hard crystals.[9] John Donaldson, professor of chemistry at Brunel University, proposed that the crucial step is the interruption of agglomeration of particles carrying a surface charge after dissolved contaminants have nucleated as a colloidal suspension.[10] Simon Parsons of the School of Water Sciences at Cranfield University proposed that the magnetic field reduces the surface charge on small particles, increasing the tendency to coagulate as large particles that stay with the flow rather than depositing as scale.[10] Some[who?] proponents propose that formation of the softer polymorph aragonite over the more common calcite is favored in the presence of a magnetic field; an internal study in 1996 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found no difference in preferred crystal structure of scale deposited in magnetic water treatment systems.[11]

Liu et al and Coey and Cass published research in 2010 and 2000 demonstrating that magnetic treatment causes water containing minerals to favor formation of more soluble calcium aragonite over calcium carbonate, and the resulting removal of calcium carbonate deposits from a steel substrate. [12]and [13]. Furthermore, in their 2010 publication, Liu et all conclude that "The magnetic treatment of scaling waters was proved to be efficient. The efficiency obtained with this very simple magnetic device can be very much improved if the geometry is better devised." [14]. Kozic and Lipus concluded in their 2003 paper that the effects of magnetic treatment on water indeed results in reduced formation of limescale and that this effect lasts approximately 200 hours. [15]

Some devices are passive magnets attached to a water pipe, but there is limited scientific explanation as to why these should have any effect. Other devices send a pulsating and reversing electric current through one or more coils located in close proximity around the water pipe, creating pulsating and reversing electro-magnetic fields in the water. Where two or more coils are used, the effect of this is said to be to cause the limescale particles to collide into each other and hence to change their crystal structure (i.e. from calcium carbonate to more soluble calcium aragonite). This effect would appear to depend on the particular properties of the water (e.g. the presence of other elements such as iron and magnesium) and, if it does occur, may be due to other, as yet unidentified, interactions in the water. There are mixed reports from consumers as to the effectiveness of these devices.

Studies of effectiveness

Scientific and engineering studies generally refute the effectiveness of the method, finding no differences not attributable to other causes between systems with and without a magnetic water treatment device, and no theoretical basis to expect that there might be. Vendors frequently use pictures and testimonials to support their claims, but omit quantitative detail and well-controlled studies. Advertisements and promotions generally omit such system variables as corrosion coupon results or system mass balance analyticals, as well as measurements of post-treatment water such as concentration of hardness ions or the distribution, structure, and morphology of suspended particles.[4][5][16][17][18]. Nevertheless, some studies do suggest that it may be effective under some conditions to reduce buildup of calcium carbonate deposits.[19]

Other claimed effects of magnetically treated water

One study has claimed statistically significant reduction in calculus formation on the teeth when exposed to magnetically treated water.[20][21] The same study reported that reduction in plaque and gingival index was not statistically significant.

If magnetic water treatment were to work, a health benefit, by comparison to conventional water softening treatment using sodium-based ion replacement, would be the avoidance of increasing dietary sodium intake.

See also


  1. ^ London South Bank University, Prof. Martin Chaplin. "Water Structure and Science". 
  2. ^ The European Physical Journal Applied Physics, Volume 18, Issue 1, April 2002, pp.41-49, Szkatula, A.; Balanda, M.; Kopeć, M., AA Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kraków, Poland. "Magnetic treatment of industrial water. Silica activation". 
  3. ^ a b "Hardness in Drinking Water". New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. October 2008. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  4. ^ a b c Powell, Mike. "Magnetic Water and Fuel Treatment: Myth, Magic, or Mainstream Science?". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved Oct. 26 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Keister, Timothy. "Non Chemical Devices: Thirty Years of Myth Busting". Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  6. ^ "Laboratory studies on magnetic water treatment and their relationship to a possible mechanism for scale reduction" (in English). Elsiver. First published 1996 07 02. doi:This version issued on 1997 01 25. Retrieved 2011 10 03. 
  7. ^ "Laboratory studies on magnetic water treatment and their relationship to a possible mechanism for scale reduction" (in English). Elsiver. First published 1996 07 02. doi:This version issued on 1997 01 25. Retrieved 2011 10 03. 
  8. ^ Water Structure and Science by Martin Chaplin
  9. ^ GMX, of Chino, California. "Klaus Kronenberg, Ph.D Interview". 
  10. ^ a b "A problem of scale. (water conditioning)". Entrepreneur. 1996-04-01. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  11. ^ Krauter, PW; JE Harrar, SP Orloff, and SM Bahowick (1996-12). "Test of a Magnetic Device for Amelioration of Scale Formation at Treatment Facility D". Internal report of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.;jsessionid=5942C197408C8989100BDFBA67344AA8?purl=/567404-bQ4DwB/webviewable/. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  12. ^ Nanoscale Res Lett. 2010 Dec;5(12):1982-1991. Epub 2010 Aug 18. Surface Modification and Planar Defects of Calcium Carbonates by Magnetic Water Treatment. Liu CZ, Lin CH, Yeh MS, Chao YM, Shen P.
  13. ^ Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials 209 (2000) 71}74 Magnetic water treatment J.M.D. Coey*, Stephen Cass
  14. ^ [Nanoscale Res Lett. 2010 Dec;5(12):1982-1991. Epub 2010 Aug 18. Surface Modification and Planar Defects of Calcium Carbonates by Magnetic Water Treatment. Liu CZ, Lin CH, Yeh MS, Chao YM, Shen P.]
  15. ^ J Chem Inf Comput Sci. 2003 Nov-Dec;43(6):1815-9. Magnetic water treatment for a less tenacious scale. Kozic V, Lipus LC.
  16. ^ Lower, Stephen. "Magnetic water treatment and pseudoscience". Chem1Ware Systems Limited. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  17. ^ Limpert, GJC; JL Raber (1985-10-01). "Tests of nonchemical scale control devices in a once-through system". Materials Performance 24 (10): 40–45. 
  18. ^ "Magnetic Water Treatment", Public Works Technical Bulletin 420-49-34, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 15 June 2001.
  19. ^ A. Szkatula, M. Balanda, M. Kopec, "Magnetic treatment of industrial water. Silica activation". Eur. Phys. J. Applied Physics, 1, vol. 18, p. 41-49, 2002 (abstract)
  20. ^ Watt, DL; Rosenfelder, C; Sutton, CD (1993). "The effect of oral irrigation with a magnetic water treatment device on plaque and calculus". Journal of clinical periodontology 20 (5): 314–7. PMID 8501270. 
  21. ^ Johnson, KE; Sanders, JJ; Gellin, RG; Palesch, YY (1998). "The effectiveness of a magnetized water oral irrigator (Hydro Floss) on plaque, calculus and gingival health". Journal of clinical periodontology 25 (4): 316–21. PMID 9565283. 

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