About Ionization Through
Electrolytic Mineral Ion Systems
Electrolytic mineral ion systems, such as
copper-silver ionization, are a proven,
effective, non-chemical method to help control bacteria, algae and
viruses. Advantages include improved water quality, effective algae and
bacteria control, improved sanitation, reduced chemical usage, automated
operation and an environmentally friendly method of water sanitation.
Copper-silver ion systems are proven effective in many applications. Included are pools,
spas, ponds, fountains, cooling towers and other similar closed loop
The principal of using metals for water purification goes back hundreds of
years. Silver’s effectiveness dates back to the middle ages; it was used
in the viaducts and water vessels. Settlers used coins in water barrels to
keep their water pure. It was apparent this worked, but no one really knew
why. The first reasonably modern attempts to use this ionization process
were made in the 1930's.
Then, in the 1960's and
early 1970's, the Johnson Space Center conducted a research program aimed
at the development of a small, lightweight water purifier that required
minimal power and no human monitoring. This program produced an
electrolytic silver ion generator, slightly larger than a pager and
weighing only nine ounces. One or more units, mounted at various locations
in the potable water supply and waste water system of a spacecraft, would
dispense silver ions sufficient to eliminate bacteria and sanitize the
water within hours.
NASA made this design
information available to the industry and from this beginning, one of the
world’s most advanced water purification systems was developed. It is
capable of handling water volumes into the millions of gallons and is used
in many different applications. Pools, spas, decorative water
applications, cooling towers, injection molding systems all routinely use
ionization as a means of water sanitation.
In basic terms, these types of ion systems typically consist of an anode
and cathode (electrodes) made of a proportion of copper and silver, placed
in a chamber that is mounted in the existing water recirculation system.
An electronic controller sends low-voltage, DC current to the electrodes.
This voltage causes some of the outer atoms of the electrodes to lose an
electron, therefore, turning these into positive ions.
These ions attempt to flow
from one electrode to another (from anode to cathode), but instead, are
carried to the pool or spa by the flow of water. To measure the copper
level in the water, a test kit is provided with the system. The user
adjusts the controller to maintain a correct level. Full system
installation and operation is described in an accompanying operations
How it Works:
This is a very basic explanation of how copper and silver work. Both have
some algaecidal and bactericidal properties. Copper has the ability to
pierce the protective outer membrane of a cell and disrupt enzyme balance,
as well as allowing other bactericides and algaecides access to the
susceptible parts of the organism.
Silver is effective because
of its capabilities of interfering with DNA production and accelerating
the death phase. Although lethal to bacteria and algae, this process is
completely safe to humans. A multitude of scientific tests have been done
showing the effectiveness of copper-silver ion systems in different areas
including swimming pool and spa applications.
Supplemental or Dual Stage
Methods of Sanitation:
Ion systems can be used in conjunction with other methods of sanitation
including chemical, ozone and ultraviolet systems for improved
performance. A report written on a dual stage method of sanitation shows
the improved performance that can be achieved from chlorine by combining
it with an electrolytic ion system.
The Science of Ionization
- During the ionization process, an element
gains and loses ions.
- An ion is an atom or group of atoms that
contain an electrical charge.
- An atom contains a nucleus in the center
and one or more negatively charged electrons orbiting around the outside.
The nucleus contains positively charge
particles called protons.
- An atom
usually has an equal number of protons and electrons.
ThomsonTec systems function by passing a
low-voltage direct current through a copper/silver anode positioned in the
water circulation system.
low-voltage charge causes other atoms of the anode to lose electrons. They
become positive ions that attempt to flow across the space between the
anode and cathode and are carried into the water by force of flow.
Once copper ions are released, they create a
natural algaecide and bactericide helping you enjoy algae and
bacteria-free water every time you use your pool or spa.
In residential pools, there is no legal
requirement to use chlorine at all. In fact, many ion users don’t. They
use a non-chlorine shock or ozone and are very happy. However, we are not
suggesting or recommending the ion system is an alternative to chlorine
alone. There are reports that show that a low level of chlorine and the
use of an ion system is a much better way to sanitize than either method
- We are in favor of any method or
combination of methods that will insure safe, sanitary water and at the
same time provide exceptional water quality with virtually none of the
down sides associated with standard sanitizing chemicals. In this
combination the chlorine level is very low (<.5ppm) so it is basically
unnoticeable, plus the ion system is much more effective because of the
presence of this low level of halogen providing constant oxidation. This
provides the best of both worlds.