This if the first part of a three-part article on the use of engineered water for cleaning.

Activated or engineered water technology isn’t new to the cleaning industry. In fact, it’s been around for a long time. In the past, this technology required large machines that were cost- and size-prohibitive to most customers.

But in recent years, the cleaning industry has seen the emergence of technologies that activate water in small, hand-held devices for commercial cleaning purposes — a huge step forward for the green cleaning market.

“In the last half-dozen years or so, I have seen the industry on the cleaning chemical products side begin to innovate in a way that it hasn’t done for years and years,” says Vince Elliott, an industry consultant and president and CEO of Elliott Affiliates in Baltimore. “I’m excited by what I’m seeing, and the evolution is continuing.”

Water electrolysis, ozone and hypochlorous acid are the three dominant types of activated water solutions in the marketplace today. None of them are “perfect,” says Elliot, but they are good cleaners and can take the place of products such as glass cleaners, surface cleaners and sanitizers. None have yet been registered as disinfectants.

These activated water solutions each help reduce or eliminate the use of toxic cleaning chemicals.

“One of the great advantages of the activated water process is the products used ultimately break down into oxygen and water, so any potentially harmful effects are quite easily dissipated by that strategy,” says Elliott. “It’s safer and healthier and better for the environment. So if you’re into sustainability, it’s a very innovative strategy to pursue.”

Engineered water products have gravitated to certain markets, says Elliott.

“There’s a heavy concentration of activated water products in the K-12 and college and university educational environments, as well as owner-occupied and commercial spaces,” he says. “A lot is also being driven by building service contractors.”

Engineered water products are being used to clean healthcare, veterinary and retail facilities. A wide variety of markets will continue to adopt engineered water technology, says Karla Leis, general manager for Orbio Technologies, Minneapolis.

“We are seeing the fastest adoption with building service contractors and end user customers in applications where image is important, there are a variety of surfaces to clean, and the high traffic of people requires a high cleaning frequency” she says. “We are seeing the most rapid adoption in education facilities, corporate campuses and large public venues.”

Users that place a greater value on reduced costs throughout the entire supply chain are largely driving the increase in engineered water usage. A great advantage of engineered water products is that the manufacturing, transportation and storage costs that are associated with traditional cleaning chemicals do not exist. This is because of engineered water’s ability to be created on site.

For example, Orbio Technologies’ On-Site Generation technology converts water, electricity and a small amount of salt into cleaning and antimicrobial solutions. The device is simply connected to a facility’s tap water supply, a drain and a standard electrical outlet. The mixture of softened tap water and salt flows into an electrolytic cell, where the electrolysis process creates two streams: a cleaning solution and an antimicrobial solution. Those solutions are then dispensed into containers and machines that are used for cleaning.

“Customer awareness about the benefits of [On-Site Generation] has grown tremendously and it is becoming more and more ‘normalized,’” says Leis.

Environmental awareness has also motivated end users to turn to engineered water products, since they are almost universally considered better for the environment. Not only do engineered water products have a smaller carbon footprint than their traditional products — again, from the reduced transportation and storage costs — but they’re also scentless and residue free. Cleaning waste is less of a concern as well. When a mop bucket full of engineered water is dumped down the drain, it simply contains dirty water — not dirty water and chemicals.

“These products really move beyond green,” says Elliott. “Even the [Environmental Protection Agency] will say that green products are five to 15 times less toxic than traditional cleaning products — but they’re still toxic. These move beyond that realm, and I would call this, at the very least, extreme green.”

next page of this article:
Using Hypochlorous Acid, Ozonated Water For Cleaning