As I get regular energy efficiency industry update emails from Vilnis Vesma, a 20 year+ independent energy management specialist, the March 18 headline caught my eye…..
Energy update: air (removal) warfare
Here is a copy of the original email;
Reader Russell S. contacted me about a sales pitch for a product called Oxypod, which claims to remove air from heating systems and thereby directly and indirectly improve their thermal efficiency. Air separators are pretty much standard equipment on heating systems. Typically they provide a chamber in which the system water moves relatively slowly in contact with a medium presenting lots of sharp edges on which microbubbles of entrained air can nucleate and coalesce before floating off and being discharged through an air release valve. The Oxypod by contrast accelerates the flow, creating a vortex which is claimed to promote the discharge of what they call ‘dissolved’ air.
A search on the Advertising Standards Authority web site brought up the following story. In 2014 Goodwin Community Trading, who sell the Oxypod, complained (ASA ref. A14-275319) that a company called Sold On Renewables was making claims for a competing device called the Vortex Energy Saver, based on testimonials and tests carried out when the Vortex was being sold as the ‘Tadpole’. The ASA rejected their complaint on the grounds that a mere change of product branding did not in itself invalidate any claims for it. It’s worth noting that Goodwin could hardly attack the actual claims being made for the Vortex/Tadpole, since they were making similar claims themselves, and moreover the competing products are based on the same principle.
Then the tables were turned: Tadpole complained to the ASA about Goodwin’s Oxypod. The upshot was that the ASA ruled in 2016 that Goodwin should cease making claims for ‘up to 30%’ energy savings, or indeed any claim that significant savings could be achieved, because they could not provide substantiation (ASA complaint A15-30540).
Ignoring the vendors’ pseudo-scientific sales pitches and going back to first principles, it is implausible to claim savings of the order of more than a few percent from improved heat transfer. The argument for air removal is the same as for snake-oil water additives: any improvement in heat transfer will be manifested as a drop in boiler exhaust temperature, and a gas boiler capable of saving 30% would need to start with a chimney temperature around 600C (dull red heat).
- Over 20 years’ experience as an independent energy management specialist
- Author of Energy management principles and practice (Third edition pub. Hive House, 2017) and Managing energy with a desk-top computer (Energy Publications, 1985)
- Previous experience includes:
- Energy team leader in local government
- Research engineer in electricity industry
- Education officer and deputy secretary, Institute of Energy (1)
- Graduate chartered engineer
- Certified Energy Manager
- Registered ESOS lead assessor
- Trained ISO50001 energy management system auditor
- Specialist in low-cost and no-cost energy saving techniques including targeting-and-monitoring schemes and staff training
- Formerly ran the AWA energy and water benchmarking study groups
- Author of various computer software packages for energy management
- Founder, UK Association of Energy Engineers
- Former committee member, International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol
- Former member of CEN/CENELEC and ISO committees writing management-systems standards for energy
- Former council member, Energy Services and Technologies Association
- Former council member of the Institute of Energy (1)
- Former editor of the Eclipse Group’s quarterly FM Focus: Cost Control