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In-bay Automatic

Creative solutions for in-bay reclaim

October 11, 2010
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Integrating recovered water in the everyday operation of vehicle washing is not difficult or expensive.

When you compare the rising cost of water, sewer and other associated fees, it automatically becomes a no-brainer.

The cost of your municipal water and sewer will pretty much determine just how much recovered water you will want to use in your overall operation.

Recovering and recycling for reclaim
If you incorporate undercarriage washing, the choice of using recovered water is almost automatic. In many cases, the use of unfiltered recycled water is more than acceptable.

When using high pressure wheel blasters or high pressure on the lower portion of the vehicle, be sure to use filtered reclaim water.

The filtered recovered water will ensure the safe operation of high pressure pumps, nozzles and valves and avoid water sanding your customer’s clear coat.

In almost all applications of reclaim water it is extremely important to have all the solids removed not only for high pressure use, but also for tiny solids that impregnate cloth, foam and brush surfaces and have a sandpaper effect on the vehicle surface.

Thirty-five candles
This year I will enter my 35th year as a manufacturer of water recovery equipment.

The most enlightening ideas, the ones that drive manufacturers to build the best equipment at affordable prices, have come from carwash operators driven to ingenuity out of necessity.

Innovative operators have been the backbone of vehicle washing equipment since its birth. Unlike many other industries, the test ground for carwashing can be found in every town across the country.

Over the years, I have encountered many clever and resourceful tips on how to make reclaim water easy to work with and most of them are simple to implement and inexpensive.

Hydro blending
Hydro blending is easy on the pocket and extremely simple to install. It will work for any type of reclaim water.

Blending has an array of other features that will allow the owner to change the:

  • Color;
  • Odor; and
  • Texture of ordinary reclaim water.

The theory is to blend a very small amount of fresh or treated water into a full stream of reclaim.

To accomplish this you will need a large Venturi-type injector with internal mixing vanes that are positioned to maximize the blending capabilities.

When a flow of reclaim water passes through the injector, a vacuum is created inside the injector body. The vacuum is used to inject a small amount of fresh or treated water to be drawn through the suction line.

That small amount enters the injector and is entrained into the flow of reclaim water. Because the water changes into a high velocity jet stream and is mixed by the internal vanes, the quality of the blend is improved.

The injector will reduce the flow of reclaim water, so it is imperative to use a bypass valve around the injector. The bypass valve can be set to allow enough flow through the injector to create the necessary suction and maintain high volume flow.

It is recommended that an owner use a product tank to store or mix other ingredients to alter the reclaim quality.

More uses for blending

  • Reclaim the water that sits in the reservoir tanks of high pressure pumping stations. This water will have a tendency to stagnate over long periods of non-use.
  • Blend municipal city water with chlorine to slow the rapid growth of bacteria-associated odor.
  • Use a chlorine tablet float, same as a pool or spa, to increase the concentration of chlorine going to the injector.

The small stream of chlorinated water blended into the flow of reclaim will lighten the color of the recovered water and substantially reduce any odor.

  • Mix a masking agent/fragrance in the product tank. Even water that is not rinsed off the car, like undercarriage spray, can have a clean fragrant smell.
  • Change the color of the water by adding dye to the fresh water product tank.

Sparging comes from the French word sparge and means injecting air into water. This can also be done by removing the injector hose and allowing large amounts of ambient air to enter the flow of water.

By using this application the injected air bubbles will appear to change the texture of the water applied to the vehicle surface.

This method is much like the aerator on a kitchen sink. When using this method, do not send the aerated water directly into high pressure pumps. The air bubbles generated from the injector can cause pump cavitation.

Blending a small amount of freshwater into a large stream of reclaim is only one of many inexpensive creative tips to make reclaim friendly.

The bottom line is to be creative; you can have the best of both worlds: low water and sewer bills and quality reclaim water.

Jim Keller is president of Con-Serv Water Recovery Systems and a 44-year veteran of the vehicle washing industry. He can be reached for comment or questions at

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