What is Magnetite and How to Stop it

Understanding the formation of magnetite is crucial for building owners and operators, as it can cause significant damage and lead to costly repairs if not addressed properly.

What is Magnetite?

Magnetite, also known as ferrous oxide or black iron oxide, is a mineral that is composed of iron and oxygen. It has a unique crystalline structure and magnetic properties that make it highly reactive and prone to forming in closed-loop heating and cooling systems.

The formation of magnetite occurs through a process known as oxidation, where iron in the system reacts with oxygen in the presence of water. This reaction can be accelerated by high temperatures, pH imbalances, and other factors that increase the rate of corrosion.

Once formed, magnetite can accumulate and form a layer of sludge within the system, affecting the performance and efficiency of the system over time.

Magnetite captured by VEXO's Y-MAG Magnetic Filter

Dangers of Magnetite in Closed Loop Heating or Cooling Systems

The accumulation of magnetite in a closed-loop heating or cooling system can pose several serious problems, including:

Reduced Efficiency: Magnetite can cause a build-up of sludge within the system, reducing the flow of water and increasing the pressure required to circulate it. This can cause the system to work harder, resulting in reduced efficiency and higher energy costs.

Corrosion: The presence of magnetite in the system can accelerate the rate of corrosion, leading to leaks, cracks, and other forms of damage that can compromise the integrity of the system.

Blockages: The build-up of magnetite can cause blockages in the system, resulting in reduced flow rates and even complete blockages that can cause the system to shut down entirely.

Mechanical Failures: The accumulation of magnetite can cause mechanical failures within the system, including damage to pumps, valves, and other components that can lead to costly repairs and downtime.

Health Risks: In some cases, the accumulation of magnetite can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms within the system, posing a risk to human health.

Corrosion in plate heat exchanger

Prevention and Treatment of Magnetite Build-Up

Fortunately, there are several steps that building owners and operators can take to prevent and treat the build-up of magnetite in closed-loop heating and cooling systems. These include:

Regular System Maintenance: Regular maintenance, including flushing and cleaning of the system, can help prevent the build-up of magnetite and other forms of corrosion.

Use of Chemical Treatments: Chemical treatments, such as the VEXO X-PO10 Commercial Inhibitor and biocides, can be used to prevent the formation and accumulation of magnetite within the system.

Installation of X-POT Side Stream Filtration: X-POTs can be installed within the closed-loop system to remove magnetite and other forms of sludge before they can accumulate and cause damage.

pH Control: Maintaining proper pH levels within the system can help prevent the formation and accumulation of magnetite by reducing the rate of corrosion.

Magnetite trapped in X-POT Compact Magnet Grates after 48 hours of circulation in aged Hydronic Heating System

X-POT prevents magnetite problems and reduces operating costs.

In conclusion, magnetite is a common problem in closed-loop heating and cooling systems that can cause serious damage and compromise the efficiency and performance of the system over time.

Understanding the causes and problems of magnetite build-up, as well as implementing effective prevention and treatment strategies, is crucial for building owners and operators looking to maintain the longevity of their systems, protect their capital investment and save on operating costs.

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