Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board focused its cleaning services for the Boston Logan International Airport on certain criteria, one of which was the “least harmful cleaning program” possible. In July, a decision was made to require the cleaning crew to use the most sustainable products and cleaning practices they could, while achieving the same cleaning results.

As a result, the airport — which services 29.3 million passengers a year — began using enhanced water to keep surfaces clean. The custodial program now utilizes a combination of aqueous water-activated technologies for chemical-free disinfection and floor stripping.

In doing so, Massport joins the ranks of hotels, schools, hospitals and office buildings that are exploring the benefits of water-activated cleaning technologies.

“The jan/san industry is finding these technologies are not only effective, but they can reduce the cost of cleaning and/or sanitizing,” says John Oakey, client and content development manager at Peachtree City, Ga.-based Integrity Synergistics, a consulting firm for distributors in the cleaning and maintenance industry.

Science Behind Enhanced Water

To fully take advantage of these technologies, Oakey says custodial operations managers need to know about the water-activated technologies available in the marketplace.

According to Oakey, there are two classes of enhanced water products that can effectively clean, sanitize and even disinfect: Deionized Water and Engineered Water.

Deionized: Deionized water falls under a technological group called “Natural Cleaning or Sanitizing.” Its name says it all: all of the ions in the water have been removed so the water doesn’t conduct electricity. A good application for this technology is window cleaning because it eliminates the need for surfactants and other chemicals in the cleaning process and leaves windows clean.

“Because the water is deionized, it won’t leave streaks,” says Steve Hengsperger of Oldcastle, Ontario, Canada-based Tersano Inc.

Engineered: Engineered water includes electrolytically enhanced or converted water, aqueous ozone, electroporation and steam vapor.
•    Aqueous ozone — often referred to as liquid ozone — adds an extra atom to the water, converting it into O3. When sprayed, the ozone is attracted to germs and bacteria, quickly eliminating it and leaving pure oxygen and water behind. Research has shown this solution works well as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that targets bacteria, fungi, viruses and more. This technology can also be used as a deodorizer and degreaser.
•    Electrolytically converted water runs an electrical charge through the water to transform it and create a solution to clean. According to experts, the technology itself does clean with decent results. And if a small amount of salt is added, and sodium hydroxide produced, it is an effective sanitizer. Electrolytically enhanced solutions increase the alkalinity of water to a point where it can be used as an effective degreaser.
•    Electroporation is a process where high-voltage pulses are applied to a pair of electrodes as water flows between them. An electroporation solution, according to Oakey, can be used to kill 99.9 percent of germs to a sanitized level and will kill bacteria within six seconds of contact.
•    Steam vapor is another technology that can be used to clean. Not to be confused with steam cleaning, which uses more water, these systems utilize tap water to produce saturated steam that is low in moisture and high in temperature. When this steam is applied to a surface — carpets, steel, glass, etc. — it disrupts the soil that bonds to that surface and removes it via a heat transfer process.

RONNIE GARRETT is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

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