Vortex offering alternative to chlorine for purifying water

Published 13 February 2006

In “Dr. Stranegelove” there is a scene in which Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, played by cigar-chomping Sterling Hayden, is lecturing the stunned Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, played by Peter Sellers, on how the use of chlorine to purify water was but an “international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluid.” General Ripper would be happy: Prescott, Arizona-based Vortex Corporation, a developer of chemical-free water purification products, has been awarded a Phase Two $750,000 Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency Small Business Innovation Research (HSARPA SBIR) contract. This contract is for developing chlorine-free water purification systems for municipal water supplies, and it uses Vortex’s patented photo-oxidation technology which is also used in the company’s consumer Vortex Water Machine and its rugged Vortex Voyager unit, which can be used for emergency preparedness and homeland security.

The Interactive UV/Ozone System as a Chlorine Alternative project is spearheaded by Vortex with support from the University of Arizona’s Water Quality Center. The contract calls for the company to design a large-scale device sustained by photo-oxidation technology — in effect, mimicking the natural water purification phenomenon which occurs in the environment. Through an application of ultraviolet light and ozone, both proven technologies, the system has the potential significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the U.S. dependency on chlorine as a primary disinfectant in water treatment.

Finding an alternative to chlorine is nothing but good news. Currently chlorine is the main product used for water purification by municipal water treatment facilities nationwide. The production and storage of this deadly chemical has been a major security issue about which we have written often — an issue especially pressing because of the stubborn resistance of the chemical industry and its allies in the administration and Congress to the fashioning of any meaningful security measures for the handling and safeguarding of deadly chemicals. Many studies on homeland security have pointed to the storage and transportation of chlorine as a major terrorism risk. Moreover, chlorinated byproducts have been linked to cancer. Vortex has already successfully constructed a laboratory prototype in a Phase One project in which water was purified without the use of chlorine, demonstrating that drinking water could be produced to meet EPA standards without chlorine (or a similar agent) in both municipal and commercial applications.

-read more in this DHS Web page; Vortex Web site is still under construction