Mining is an important industry in Western Australia, contributing to over a third of its Gross State Product and the main resources extracted are nickel, iron ore, and gold. However due to the extreme climate, mining poses many problems; temperatures can reach in excess of 50 degrees and the area has hard water supply which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. In some locations the water is treated primarily using the process of reverse osmosis which separates the solute from the solvent – however this is not always successful for eliminating limescale.
Scale is so severe in the mining area of Mt Newman that the 150ltr hot water systems on some mine sites regularly ‘explode’ with the force caused from pressure relief valves being heavily blocked with lime scale. The result is a build up of pressure 100 times its capacity and inevitably the permanent damage of the hot water system.
Magnets and wire wind principles, supplied by other companies have been trialled to elevate this ongoing problem, but with very limited success.
Management at a mining camp located north of Mt Newman decided to trial Hydropath patented water conditioning technology to reduce the impact of limescale. However, it was not feasible to fit the unit on the main water pipe into the camp, as the plastic pipes are prone to leaking and this would affect the effectiveness of the unit. Therefore it was fitted to the areas which felt the greatest effects of excessive calcium carbonate including catering areas, laundry rooms and cold water chillers. However, due to the extreme climate in the region, the units needed to be modified to protect them from damage from the elements. This included enclosing them in an IP56 rated weatherproof enclosure covered with an insulated galvanised shield to reduce exposure to direct UV rays and high surface temperatures of up to 70 degrees, which could compromise the effectiveness of the unit.
The Hydroflow HS38 and C45 systems were installed at the site to remove existing scale and prevent new scale from forming. They are patented water conditioning systems from Hydropath which remove limescale by transmitting randomly varying electric fields into the water and the entire plumbing system. The result is the production of nuclei everywhere in the water system. This causes lime scale to form in suspension, which is then washed away with the flow. The treated water is normally able to dissolve existing scale in a few months.
Personnel at the mine experienced numerous advantages following the installation of the Hydropath units. Drinking water has been reported to be more pleasant, elements such as those in washing machines, dishwashers, steamers and kettles are not covered with scale, and essentially hot water systems do not become blocked with limescale causing irreparable damage.
Pete Ramsay, Hydropath’s Australian distributor comments, ‘It has been a challenge educating many decision makers on the effectiveness of Hydropath’s products; with so many alternatives making bold claims on eradicating limescale which have little impact. Hydropath’s HS38 unit is unique as it treats the whole system effectively preventing limescale from adhering to the pipes and removing existing scale without the use of chemicals.’
The units are simple to install, simply clipped onto the exterior of the pipe without the need for plumbing or incision. They are available for domestic and commercial applications in a range of pipe sizes, from plumbing merchants including independent plumbing merchants and larger retailers such as Travis Perkins, Plumbing Trade Supplies (PTS) and online from PlumbWorld.
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