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Enzyme Technology

Enzymes are large protein molecules composed of chains of amino acids. Their principal function is to act as a catalyst - an entity which controls the speed of a reaction without itself actually being consumed in the process. Since this function was first identified by the Swedish chemist Berzelius in 1823, around 750 enzymes have been isolated, many of which occur naturally in the environment. Enzymes play a huge part in metabolic processes that occur within the human body, as revealed in the small selection below.


One of the special properties of enzymes is their specificity - a particular enzyme will catalyst a single compound or small group of compounds, yet leave all others untouched. How it does this comes about from its flexible structure, which allows the chains that make up the enzyme molecule to twist and fold, bringing several amino acids together to form what is termed an active site. The shape of this site must complement the shape of the compound being catalysed - the substrate - or no binding occurs between the two. This specificity is often referred to as the "lock-and-key" mechanism. If the enzyme and substrate do bind, a reaction takes place, converting the substrate into two or more products. These are released from the enzyme, allowing it to bind with another substrate and repeat the process. The schematic below summarises the mechanism of reaction between enzyme and substrate.  As catalysts, enzymes are extremely efficient - Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopaedia states that 30 grams of pepsin is sufficient to completely digest 2 tonnes of egg white in a matter of hours! (1)

Introducing Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect

Following several environmental disasters like the grounding of the Exxon Valdez in 1989, an international review was made of methods used to deal with major oil spills. Up until the early 1990's, dispersion of the oil was largely achieved using detergent-based products. However, it was noted that certain enzymes exhibited the ability to biodegrade organics like oil and grease to less environmentally harmful compounds. As such, most spills, including those arising from the wars with Iraq, have been treated using enzymes. Obvious spin-offs from this application are the use of enzymes in laundry detergents and, more recently, the treatment of pool and spa water.

Enter Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect from Natural Chemistry. Made and packaged under licence by Bio-Lab in Australia, these two products are proprietary blends of naturally-occurring enzymes. When added to pool or spa water, these enzymes interact over a period of days to slowly biodegrade organic contaminants, such as oils, suntan lotions, foodstuff, plant material, cosmetics, sweat and other bodily fluids and wastes, animal and bird wastes, etc. The products of this biodegradation are water, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other simple compounds. Regular use of Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect will reduce, if not completely eliminate, the following:

  • Waterline rings (scum lines).
  • Chemical odours from organic wastes in the water.
  • Skin and eye irritation from waterborne contaminants.
  • Blocked or inefficient filtration.

The last of these is achieved by reducing the amount of insoluble waste in the water and, thus, capable of being trapped by the filter. This, in turn, can substantially reduce the need for backwashing. As always, check the manufacturer's recommendations for maximum permissible filter pressures and backwash accordingly. Apart from routine maintenance, treatment with Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect is ideal in cases where contaminants like motor oil or paint have entered the water, either inadvertently or through an act of deliberate vandalism.

Product Application

1. Prior to using Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect, ensure a chlorine residual of 2 - 3 ppm is present in the water.
2. Apply Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect by pouring the required dose directly into the water with the pump operating. No scrubbing is required. The recommended weekly dosage rate for Pool Perfect is 40 mL per 10,000 litres, whilst that for Spa Perfect is 80 mL per 1,000 litres. In situations where the pool or spa is heavily used, or where contamination has occurred with products like motor oil or paint, the quoted rates and application frequency can be increased. It is not possible to overdose a pool or spa with either product as natural enzymes do not affect water balance in any way.
3. Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect can be added whilst the pool or spa is in use. However, to maximise effectiveness, it is recommended to wait 1 hour before resuming bathing for water above 20°C, or 2 hours for water below 20°C.

Note that enzymes are not sanitisers. Whilst the use of Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect will reduce the dependence upon the sanitiser and oxidiser to destroy wastes, it will not eliminate the need for either. Water should also be balanced as per usual. Note that Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect are compatible with all pool and spa chemicals, including all chlorinating and brominating products, at routine levels. However, the enzymes will be destroyed in higher concentrations of chlorine (> 5 ppm) or bromine (> 10 ppm). As enzymes are proteins, they are denatured (destroyed) at higher temperatures, so containers of Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect should be stored out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat likely to raise the product temperature to 48°C or above.

If suspended inorganic matter is present in the water, it will remain after the organics have been biodegraded by Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect. If cloudy water persists, a floc or clarifier should be used to deal with this material.

Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs are reproduced (with some local modifications) from the Natural Chemistry web site.

Question Answer
How are Pool Perfect and
Spa Perfect different?
Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect vary in enzyme blend, concentration and stabiliser
(definitely not cyanuric acid!). Spa Perfect is specifically formulated for elevated
temperatures up to 40ºC.
How often will I have to
add product to the pool or
spa?
1 - 2 times per week.
How will I know when to
add product?

If the water is cloudy, a scum ring is present at the waterline or the pool/spa has been
accidentally or deliberately contaminated with an organic like oil or paint.
How do I add the product? Add through the skimmer - this causes the product to pass through the filter more
quickly.
What will happen if I add
too much product?
Possible short-term foaming. To correct, use SpaGuard Antifoam Concentrate
according to label directions.
When I started using the
product, the water
became cloudy.
In new pools and spas, there are cutting oils in the pipes that Pool Perfect and Spa
Perfect will loosen. In older pools and spas, there often is an build-up in the pipes
called biomass or biofilm. Both products loosen this and bring it into the pool or
spa. In either case, add a double dose of Pool Perfect or Spa Perfect and it will
biodegrade the biomass or oil. The product will also prevent future build-up in pipes
if used on a regular basis.
Is it okay for pets to drink
water with Pool Perfect or
Spa Perfect in it?

Yes. Pool Perfect and Spa Perfect are non-toxic and hypoallergenic, so they can
be added while people are swimming. Nothing in either of the products is harmful to
children or pets if they swallow water from the pool or spa.
Can water treated with
Pool Perfect or Spa
Perfect be used on my
garden or in my fishpond?
Yes, provided that the water is free of chlorinating/brominating compounds and
Simazine-containing products like Algizine. The natural enzymes in Pool Perfect
and Spa Perfect are environmentally friendly and have no impact upon plant life.

References

1. "Enzyme" (encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=761575875), Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopaedia 2003, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA.

The above information is supplied by Bio-Lab and represents its best interpretation of available technical information at the time of preparation. The sole purpose is to supply factual information to Bio-Lab customers. It is not to be taken out of context nor used as support for any other claim not made herein