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Old 09-11-2007, 19:25   #1
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Does anyone have experience with the Spectra Z-Brane? What does it do? If you are leaving the boat for awhile, will the Z-Brane protect the membrane without having to do automatic back-flushing?

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Old 10-11-2007, 01:45   #2
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Originally Posted by alanwesthagen View Post
1. Does anyone have experience with the Spectra Z-Brane?
2.What does it do?
3.If you are leaving the boat for awhile, will the Z-Brane protect the membrane without having to do automatic back-flushing?
1. No.

2. Spectra claims that a Z-Guard/Z-Brane eliminates the need for pickling watermakers when they are not in use.*
The Z-Brane Protection System consists of an electrostatic electrode between the raw water supply & the membrane. The Z-Brane puts a positive charge on any particles (mineral or bacterial) in the source water. This positive charge is said to keep the particles from binding together, and from sticking to surfaces in the system, including the membrane. In this way, biofouling and scale formation is minimized*.

Unfortunately, it may be that the effect of the electrostatic field is short lived, after which the water reverts to its natural state, rendering the system ineffective.

3. Spectra says: ”... As water enters the membrane it is exposed to a powerful electrostatic field charging all water molecules in a positive orientation. This positive charge prevents particulates from bonding with one another, preventing the formation of sludge, scale, and biological fouling. Bacteria are also rendered inactive and unable to absorb nutrition ...
... Even when your water-machine is in constant use or idle for periods of time, the Z-Brane™ will not allow bio-growth or scaling to attack your system as it maintains the overall performance of your watermachine and dramatically increases the life of the membrane.
Spectra’s “Keep Alive” backup system will protect the watermachine even if you have a primary power failure. The Z-Brane™ power supply circuitry will automatically switch to a secondary power source in the event of a primary failure.”

I cannot find any scientific basis, supporting the underlying theory.

* The best way to minimize watermaker maintenance is to use it often (about every three days).

Gord May
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:01   #3
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Even if the Z-Brane was 100% successful it still comes in at three times the price of the membrane it is there to protect. I'm looking to buy a Spectra watermaker sometime and when I researched the Z-Brane I decided not on the following basis. If I screw up one membrane I'll learn the hard way and refine my maintenance behaviours (nothing like a stab in the wallet). If I screw up a second time, I'll learn some more. At this point I'll still have saved dollars versus the Z-Brane and have a newer membrane to boot. I'll also be extremely well behaved.
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Old 12-11-2007, 14:53   #4
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zeta potential theory

Hi: For more information than you can imagine about this subject google "zeta potential theory" and go to the cornell university link. The z-brane is based on this effect. It is popular with people who live aboard in marinas part time and cruise part time so they won't have to pickle the watermaker when they don't use it. The machine should still be pickled if the boat is to be left unattended for a long period of time, since there is always the chance of a power failure or something. Cruisers going to very remote or difficult to ship to areas where they will be very dependant on the water maker may also find it desirable. ess105 is right, it is more of a convenience than a necessity.
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Old 12-11-2007, 22:46   #5
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Coincidentally, I'm selling a Spectra Z-guard unit for a lot less than the price of a membrane (never mind 3x the cost!). See the SSCA board. SSCA Discussion Board :: View topic - Spectra Watermaker Zeta Guard
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Old 31-12-2012, 04:51   #6
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Re: Z-Brane

We have a Spectra Newport Magdrive 2005, equipped with a Z-Brane.
Our experience with the Z-brane is HIGH cost, no effect.
The best way to "maintain" your water maker is to run it very often, daily if possible.
The Z-brane is expensive, requires to drill a hole in the membrane side cap (unless you buy the membrance directly from Spectra at an astronomical price). The high voltage can cause a spark that deteriorated the water maker body end cap. Spectra doesn'tmake this endcap anymore, so we had to get one made ($$).
Assuming that the Z-brane works (which we seriously doubt), turning it off would - maybe - force us to replace the membrance more frequently. Now a new membrane cost $140 and takes about 1/2 to replace !!!
Maintaining our Z-brane has cost us in excess of $1,500 so far.
RIP Z-brane.
For sale: excellent Z-Brane, like new
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Old 31-12-2012, 09:32   #7
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Re: Z-Brane

Take this for what it's worth: The Spectra "Catalina" aboard VALIS has been in place for over ten years, and does not have the Z-Brane. I only use the watermaker very occasionally, during my bi-annual trips to Hawaii. It spends long intervals not being used, and has *never* been pickled.

The only maintenance I do is annual filter replacement (or more often if we use it when in a thick plankton patch), and the occasional fresh-water flush. I never let salt water sit in the watermaker for more than a day, so I usually flush it after every use. When laid-up, I flush it perhaps once a month.

The production rate is still essentially as it was when new, the TDS numbers are great, and the product water is great. Your mileage may vary, but for me the fresh-water flush seems to be all it needs.

Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
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