A Western Colorado company has ramped up production of a device that inhibits the growth of viruses and other microorganisms in evaporative coolers.
The increase coincides not only with the onset of warmer summer weather, but also a time when the coronavirus pandemic has made people more cognizant of viruses and air quality.
“People are paying more attention to the air they’re breathing at home, work and school after this past year of COVID-19, especially folks who have evaporative coolers, which can be major breeding grounds for viruses, fungi, bacteria and mold spores,” said Hans Schmoldt, founder and chief engineer at Anode Systems Co. in Grand Junction. “With one simple and low-cost addition that most people can install themselves, many swamp coolers can be transformed into cooling clean air machines.”
Anode Systems Co. manufactures what’s branded as Sunflower Anodes, zinc and copper anodes for evaporative coolers.
Schmoldt founded Anode Systems in 1984 to supply a range of anodes and other products to control corrosion in pipelines and storage tanks. Anodes provide what’s called cathodic protection. Anodes attach with a wire to the metal object that’s to be protected. That turns the object into a cathode and creates a weak electric connection. As long as current flows from the anode to the cathode, the anode corrodes instead of the metal it protects.
Schmoldt developed the Sunflower Anode to control corrosion in evaporative coolers, but discovered the anode also releases zinc oxide into the water that circulates in coolers. Sunflower Anodes work as a result of an electrochemical process that creates an electric current while also releasing zinc oxide.
Zinc oxide is the same substance found in such medications as foot powders and diaper rash ointments. Zinc oxide crystals poke holes in the protective membranes of microorganisms.
Zinc oxide controls the swampy smells of so-called swamp coolers by controlling the microorganisms that cause the odors. Those microorganisms also present irritants for people with asthma, allergies, chronic coughs, headaches and other health problems.
“If you can smell it, you’re breathing it,” Schmoldt said.
The efficiency of an anode is proportional to its surface area. The patented design of the Sunflower Anode maximizes surface area with a minimal footprint. The zinc and copper anodes operate at a slightly higher voltage than a standard zinc and steel anode, which results in cleaner air with less maintenance, Schmoldt said.
“Simply place the copper-zinc Sunflower Anode in your cooler pan and let the natural electrochemical process do its job. No tools required,” he said.
A byproduct of the electrochemical process is a reduction of the solids that build up on the cooler pads, he said. That increases the life of the pads from one year to up to five years, in turn decreasing replacement costs.
“Now that we’re taking off our masks and breathing openly again, we can take steps to breathe cleaner air for better health going forward, starting with a simple addition to our evaporative coolers,” Schmoldt said.
Sunflower Anodes are available directly from the manufacturer at SunflowerAnode.com and ThinkZincAnode.com or by calling 243-4149. Bulk pricing is available for building and maintenance contractors with multiple units and locations.