DENVER - A nondescript box in the 121-year-old basement of a Colorado hotel represents the latest technology in water treatment.
For nearly 30 years, Oxford Hotel Engineer Michael Michma hauled barrels of toxic chemicals into the hotel's basement to treat water inside the building's ooling system.
"And if they splash in your eye or if it gets on your skin or clothing it eats up stuff," he said.
"Half of a building's water use is in the cooling tower and nobody ever thinks about it," Michma said.
The hotel's new tool, a file-cabinet sized machine called "The Silver Bullet," treats the water without chemicals. The result is water clean enough to stay in the cooling system two to three time longer.
"So if you put our system on a couple thousand buildings, we would be saving water at around 2 billion gallons of water a year," said Steve Bachar, CEO of Denver-based Silver Bullet Water Treatment.
The machine uses ultraviolet light to make negatively charged oxygen ions that bond with water to form hydrogen peroxide. That chemical prevents bacteria from growing in the system and keeps minerals dissolved in the water.
"Hydrogen peroxide is a tremendous biocide," Bachar said.
The system is also in place at the NORAD facility inside Cheyenne Mountain and at Sky Ridge Medical Center, which now saves 750,000 gallons of water per year.
"I've gotten rid of the toxic chemicals and it literally just runs itself," Michma said.
Odorless and tasteless, the treatment technology is also used to purify drinking water for livestock.