Electrochlorination and the changing landscape of water disinfection

Throughout history, pool pollution has been an ever-present challenge and the swimming pool industry has consistently strived to develop effective methods to provide clean, clear water to keep pool activities enjoyable for everyone.

The history of swimming pool disinfection

We have always had an affinity with water. Indeed, the first ritual bathing pool is reported to have been built over 5000 years ago in Pakistan. Swimming for pleasure was popularised by the Greeks around 800 B.C. with their ‘Palaestrae’ or open-air gymnasiums, and communal swimming pools were born.

In the 1820’s the Corporation of Liverpool opened the first indoor municipal pool in England. St. George’s Baths, on the banks of the river Mersey, was a saltwater pool. This heralded a rise in public swimming facilities being built by municipal authorities across the UK as they were considered a point of civic pride and necessity. By 1918, municipal pools were the most common public swimming pool.

Chlorine as a disinfectant

Throughout history, pool pollution has been an ever-present challenge and the swimming pool industry has consistently strived to develop effective methods to provide clean, clear water to keep pool activities enjoyable for everyone.

Before chlorination, pools were plagued with disease. Without a chemical solution, people built their pools on downward slopes to drain the water, frequently replacing the liquids in an attempt to flush out impurities; or filtered the water through large sand filters.

Chlorine as a treatment to disinfect the water was first suggested in 1894 and became the expected way to keep swimming pool water clean and free of bacteria. In fact, the complex, ever-evolving relationship between swimming pools and chlorination has been over a century in the making.

Each subsequent generation of swimming pool engineers and scientists have worked together to create improved chlorination systems to provide the best pool sanitation available at that time. The addition of ‘chemicals’ has always featured heavily in many of these solutions; hazardous and difficult to keep concentrations balanced, it has never been seen as the final answer.

Fast forward to the 21st century and a revolutionary new technology emerges that creates hypochlorite using electricity and salt. It is proven to be effective at combatting legionella and other harmful bacteria, as well as safeguarding public health and being kinder to the environment.

In 2023, electrochlorination is proving itself to be the disinfection method of choice, with its reputation as the safest and most sustainable option to provide clean pool water around the world.

What is electrochlorination?

Electrochlorination is the on-site production of sodium hypochlorite solution by electrolysis of brine. It provides a safe, sustainable and effective method for water disinfection, using only salt, water and electricity to produce chlorine in-situ.

The resulting generated hypochlorite solution contains less than 1% chlorine, which is below the hazardous threshold, providing sufficient health and safety and COSHH management benefits.

As a further important safety benefit, the generated liquid product is clear, free of sediment and non-scale forming, meaning that chemical injection points do not require any regular cleaning or maintenance by personnel; a task often considered to be a high-risk activity.

What are the benefits of electrochlorination?

Electrolytic chlorination is championed within the industry for its sustainability credentials and optimal safety standards, but what makes this method stand above disinfection alternatives? There are many benefits of electrochlorination, varying from cost-efficiency to scalability.

– The scalability of electrochlorination is huge, showcasing the ability to treat millions of litres of drinking water or wastewater per day; from large water parks with multiple pools and small commercial spas and swimming pools.

– A natural resource, salt is easily accessible and cost-effective. As salt is refined within the UK and the EU, electrochlorination provides a much-reduced impact on the environment, propelling it as the sustainable alternative. Minimal packaging is also produced, reducing waste whilst eliminating the need for plastic storage tanks reduces plastic usage by up to 90%.

– Brine production champions safety. As salt is safe to store, the risk of on-site accidents is significantly reduced in comparison to stored chemicals.

Is electrochlorination compliant under new Biocidal Product Regulations?

Electrochlorination is – and has always been – compliant under UK Biocidal Product Regulations. Although regulatory bodies have moved from Europe to the UK following Brexit changes, electrolysis is approved for safe, sustainable on-site water disinfection across the leisure industry.

Our Hyprolyser® range of electrochlorination systems offer additional features and benefits, including effective, accurate dosing using our unique vacuum dosing technology. Visit www.gaffey.co.uk to find out more, or contact us to speak to a member of our helpful team.

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Contact our team to find out more: email info@gaffey.co.uk or services@gaffey.co.uk

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