Use of Water Wetter to improve thermal transfer ability of heating system?

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Old 12-28-12, 09:33 AM
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Use of Water Wetter to improve thermal transfer ability of heating system?

Red Line's Water Wetter, used extensively in the racing industry, improves water's ability to transfer heat by breaking down the surface tension of water. My brother uses it in his 1000+ hp dragster without any anti-freeze/coolant. (google Todd Fontana he's well known in the industry)

I got into a conversation about energy conservation and heating systems and the question came up about using this in your home heating system.

So I dare to ask, has anybody used this or a product out there similar to this in their heating system? Add to that, any savings recorded?

I'm having a slight kettling issue, currently doing a Hydro Solve 9100 treatment but I'm also wondering if a wetting agent may help by improving heat transfer from the boiler block and likewise into the radiation. The product also has rust and corrosion protection in it. Almost seems like a perfect fit for use in hot water heating systems.

The product's information can be found here.
Red Line Synthetic Oil - WaterWetter® Coolant Additives - WaterWetter®

My company makes a product called Motor Max, but it's designed specifically to be used in conjunction with antifreeze/coolant and doesn't have any corrosion or rust protection in it. Lab testing has without a doubt confirmed that it does indeed work, very well too. We also make echo friendly fire extinguishing agents. Our products formulations are based on breaking down the surface tension of water. We remove the heat faster.

So I keep questioning myself if a product of this type is used in your hot water heating system, could this possibly improve efficiency and extend the life of the system?

Tom
 
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Old 12-28-12, 10:33 AM
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I have no experience with it. But hydronic heating should mostly have turbulent flow (rather than laminar), so there is aggressive mixing at the heat transfer surface with no boundary layer as in laminar flow. Also, the heat fluxes should be well below that required to cause film boiling, which reduces heat transfer. In any case, a typical closed hydronic system, provided it has an effective air removal device, doesn't need any corrosion inhibitors.

The website you linked does not contain any documented test results and does not reveal the ingredients. I would be leary of adding such stuff to my heating system. Use at your own risk. It's interesting that drag racers use it, but I would be more impressed if industrial users or the navy used it - both of which have a lot of closed cooling water systems.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 02:00 PM
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That's an interesting point regarding air and corrosion. I'm not quite sure the flow would be any different between an engine block and the block of the boiler. If improvements on heat transfer is proven with these products, why wouldn't the same apply for a hot water heating system?
Both are closed pressurized systems. Wouldn't that be basically the same principal as HW heat?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 02:46 PM
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Tom, a call to RedLine might get the answers you are looking for.

I imagine the stuff is pricey, and I doubt that you would notice any improvement in the heating system. It just isn't needed.

If you have fin-tube baseboard, simply removing the covers and vacuuming out the pet hair and dust from all the fins would do more than any wetting agent would to improve heat transfer.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 04:15 PM
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NJT - Thanks, I will give them a shout.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 04:23 PM
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There is one other slight drawback. Most hot-water boilers have no provision for adding chemicals unless the boiler (and perhaps the whole hydronic system) is depressurized and the relief valve or some other fitting is removed. It's not as handy as removing the radiator cap from a car.

But the real issue, it seems to me, is what problem does this product solve? Forget corrosion, because that is not a problem with a proper air elimination device, which all boilers should have. From the MSDS on Redline's website, the basic compostion is described as "gylcol ether" mixture. Ethylene glycol antifreeze, such as used in auto cooling systems, is not approved for heating boilers because they are connected to the city water line, and if there is backflow, the drinking water could become toxic.

Specially formulated propylene glycol is approved for boiler antifreeze (although usually unnecessary in most boiler installations). But glycol makes the water "slippery" and can result in leaks in some mechanical joints in typical boiler installations.

The Redline website cites a Chevy 350 V8 that was run for three hours, redlined at 7200 rpm - with plain water and then with water plus WaterWetter added. The coolant temp for the plain water ran 18 deg F warmer than the water with WaterWetter (220 vs. 202). It's limited data, but I don't necessarily doubt it. But it does need to be evaluated in terms of the benefits for a typical hotwater boiler, which (a) operates at full blast for only a few hours per year, and (b) the purpose of which is to heat the coolant, not to run it a lower temp.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 04:36 PM
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Yikes... Ethylene Glycol... aka anti-freeze... yes, EXTREMELY toxic! You don't even want a few drops of that sneaking into your domestic supply and as Gil mentioned, they ARE physically connected.

Propylene Glycol while non-toxic (it's actually used in some foods!) actually DECREASES the heat transfer ability of the water by something around 15% or so. Perhaps the ethylene variety does not, I have no information on that...

But still, it does appear that the RedLine is PARTIALLY an anti-freeze mixture... so I would think that the answer based on toxicity alone is a definite NO.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 04:39 PM
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(b) the purpose of which is to heat the coolant, not to run it a lower temp.
I would think it would work both ways, and in an automotive app it would do exactly that. Transfer more heat from the block to the coolant, and improve the transfer OUT of the radiator... basically the same thing as a heating system, no?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 05:38 PM
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I keep going back to that Chevy V8 engine. If the load on the engine is constant, which I'm a bit uncertain of, the coolant temp will stabilize when the heat absorbed from the engine equals the heat dissipated by the radiator, right? If the heat transfer from the block increases, and the Btu heat transfer to the radiator both increase, more or less the same, the coolant temp shouldn't change that much, not the 18 deg F increase observed by Redline.

What am I missing?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:02 PM
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Hmmmm... I think I see what you saw...

For it to run COOLER, there would have to be more heat being released than taken...

Maybe it's because the surface area of the internal block waterways is disproportionate with the area of the radiator?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:30 PM
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Good find on the Ethylene Glycol, I missed that. Rules that pruduct out, don't have to make the call.
The whole principal in breaking down waters surface tension is that it makes its ability to carry heat much better. I've got the documented lab tests that prove that hands down.

So what breaks down waters surface tension? A basic surfactant, and only a drop of it is needed to make this happen in a gallon of water. Now aside from a dish detergent, there must be some other water based products that may be safe to use. I guess I've got some research to do.
i still think I can solve a slight kettling issue I'm chasing by treating the water. The Hydro Solve has been in the system for over 10 days and the samples I'm drawing are pretty clean which leads me to believe my system is clean. So why the slight kettling near the end of the heating cycle??
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:39 PM
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Another thought here. An automotive engine cooling system's job is to maintain the engine temp below a certain degree. It kind of does this with the cooling system's thermostat, but if the engine is redlined, it will put out more heat and the coolant temp may rise above the thermostat setting.

As the coolant temp rises, the heat rejection from the radiator will also rise, and some equilibrium will be reached. Confusing.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:41 PM
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Tom, don't know if it will tell us anything, but what's the make/model of the boiler? How old?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:51 PM
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Oil Fired Ultimate Boiler PFO-4T, 20 years old.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 06:58 PM
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Are you on well water or city water? Have a water softener?
 
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Old 12-28-12, 07:01 PM
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Well, no softener. System had Glycol in it for years.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 07:21 PM
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Well water may be the problem if it is hard. I don't think glycol would have contributed to the problem.

Once hard-water scale builds up on the boiler's heat-transfer surfaces, it is difficult to remedy. Calcium carbonate builds up preferentially on heated surfaces. I forget exactly why. Removal may require an acid flush, which could damage various parts of the system. You could add a water softener, and over time, help the situation.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 07:45 PM
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I was hoping the Hydro Solve would break down any scale and flush it out. I'm going to keep it in for another week or so then flush and refill and add Pro Tek 922 to the system.
 
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Old 12-28-12, 07:53 PM
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I think the idea is that the engine stat is wide open (or removed ?) and it is running above normal stat temperature anyhow. The contact time for the coolant in the engine and rad is fixed (by rpm of the water pump). The coolant in the 'wetter' engine is absorbing more btu during it's contact time, and dumping same in the rad.

I think a case could be made that a heating system's water could absorb more btu per contact time inside the boiler. I suppose it would also come back cooler.. increasing the delta.

My system (like the majority) also connects to my dhw system for make-up water.. dont want anything toxic there for sure..
 
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