Investigation of New Science:



Technology might be categorized as being conventional, leading edge, or new and innovative. Historically, it has been difficult for a new and innovative technology to become accepted, let-alone become recognized. There are many reasons for this. Foremost is that most technical projects require real-time solutions where reliability and cost-effective performance can be assured. This usually means that innovative and new technology does not get considered. However, for multi-phase, multi-year projects, it is reasonable to consider how new and innovative technology might benefit future phases.

The purpose of this memo is to bring an awareness of new theoretical developments in the field of water and wastewater treatment. These new findings will eventually work their way into practical processes and devices. This memo reviews theoretical research-oriented issues that are the basis for emerging technologies.

A word of caution to the reader: While the concepts and ideas presented below may seem far removed from the world of conventional and leading-edge technology, enough substantiation is provided to warrant their consideration. Breakthroughs in science and later technology provide countless examples of where conventional ‘consensus reality’ had downplayed the validity of new ideas, concepts, and even the technology based on them.


Standard characterization of waters

As will be seen in what follows, we are accustomed to considering water in general, simple

terms. Some of the more recognizable aspects of water include:

The chemical formula for water is H2O

Water is a ‘universal solvent’.

Water is necessary for life.

Water can be in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms.

We find water in surface waters, groundwaters, aquifers, and in the soil and the air.

Because of the different ingredients that can be found in water, different uses of water require different qualities of water.

Attention to water quality has evolved rapidly over the past 25 years and it maps the evolution of methods and means to detect smaller and smaller quantities of materials found in water.

Methods are available to determine the chemical makeup of water and its constituents down to very low levels.

Reflecting this, with time the number of drinking water standards and water quality standards has increased dramatically and, in general, the allowable standard values have decreased.

A good example reflecting the present situation is the level of analysis conducted in Phase I of the present project. The characterizations suitable for the project included the standard analysis of inorganics present in the water along with pH, temperature, electrical conductivity, TDS, TPH, volatile organics, and radionuclides. These measurements in turn allowed assessment of other characteristics of the water such as its corrosion and scaling potential.

In spite of this type of more detailed characterization of water now routinely employed, there is little awareness of the distinction between different ‘waters.’

Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP)

ORP is a concept frequently used in aqueous environmental chemistry1 and in the consideration of internal corrosion and deposition control in the drinking water industry2. It is a numerical scale that indicates the oxidation potential (or the converse of this — the reduction potential) of a water. This in turn is dependent on the ionic/salt makeup of the water. Many elements in nature occur in more than one oxidation state. For instance, oxygen can have oxidation states of —2 and 0 and hydrogen can have oxidation states of +1 and 0. The different oxidation states reflect a gain or loss of electrons. In the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to form water,

2H2 + O2 >>>> 2H20,

the individual element reactions may be shown as:

2H2 >>>> 4H+ + 4e-

where each hydrogen atom is oxidized and loses one electron in going from an oxidation state of 0 to one of +1, and

O2 + 4e- >>>> 2O-2

where each oxygen atom is reduced and gains 2 electrons in going from an oxidation state of 0 to one of —2.

In the process the hydrogen (the reducing agent) loses electrons and becomes oxidized and the oxygen (the oxidizing agent) gains electrons and is reduced. An oxidation-reduction reaction thus brings about a change in oxidation state of the reactants with one or more electrons being transferred from one reactant to another and thus changing the ‘valance’ or oxidation states of both. One substance gains electrons and one substance loses electrons. Thus there is no oxidation without reduction.

The higher the oxidation state, the stronger the oxidation potential. Thus, for instance, Fe+3 is a stronger oxidizing agent than Fe+2. The oxidation-reduction potential is a measure of the oxidizing (and thus also the reducing) potential of a given element, ion, molecule, or in our case of a water. On the ORP scale, the highest numbers (about +800 mv for waters at pH of 7) correspond to the strongest oxidizing environments. The largest negative numbers (about -400 mv for waters at pH of 7) correspond to the strongest reducing environments. At very high potential, water is oxidized to O2 and at very low potential, water is reduced to H2.

A given water can be characterized by its ORP to indicate its potential to oxidize or reduce other elements, ions, or molecules that might be brought into its presence. Addition of an oxidizing agent in sufficient amount, such as chlorine, to any water results in a highly oxidizing environment and thus a high ORP. Waters high in oxygen are oxidizing waters with high ORP values. Waters low in oxygen and high in hydrogen are reducing waters with low ORP values and frequently have higher organic content.

A reducing agent or a reducing water provides electrons to bring about reduction and consequently are anti-oxidants. In our bodies, taken internally a reducing water can block oxidation of healthy tissue by active oxygen and free radicals. In this sense a water with a low, negative ORP serves the same antioxidant function served by vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and other foods that are rich in antioxidant materials.

It should be noted that the electrons transferred in the oxidation-reduction reactions are not in a ‘free’ state unassociated with an atom.

Interim Summary

Important in the above are the points that:

1) Historically with time, the characterization of water has become more and more detailed.

2) The public and even those involved in the water-related industries use the term ‘water’ in a broad, general fashion.

3) On a more technical level, the concept of ORP introduces the idea that, independent of pH a water can have a wide range of potential to enter into chemical reaction (oxidation-reduction reactions).

Emerging characterization of water

The available understanding of the nature of water goes much beyond that routinely considered. Most of this information is still at a research level, or held by people and groups not directly involved in large-scale water treatment. In partial explanation of this:

As mentioned in the introduction, new ideas and concepts are not easily accepted into ‘consensus reality.’

Researchers working on new ideas and concepts have difficulty in getting heard and, beyond that, getting funded so that concepts can be turned into something useful, particularly on a large scale.

These researchers are not, in general, within profitable companies.

There are strongly vested interests in existing technology that can be a deterrent to new technology.

Finally, people do not like change; while there may be no conscious effort to block new ideas, their acceptance is difficult.

Many of the new findings with respect to water come from the medical, and more specifically the alternative medical field where people are more open to new ideas and have a more obvious personal interest at stake. We will examine several topics, including:

water structure,

free electrons,

water memory,

and vortex and spiral motion,

and then summarize the findings before considering specific new technologies.


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