Archeological excavations show, that people have been using Copper for more than 11.000 years and have been using Silver for more than 5000 years. Copper can be easily extracted and processed. More dan 7000 years ago people developed a Copper extraction mechanism for Copper ores. The Roman empire gained most of its Copper from Cyprus, the isle that gave copper its name.Nowadays copper is mainly extracted form ores, such as Cuprite (CuO2), Tenorite (CuO), Malachite (CuO3·Cu(OH)2), Chalcocite (Cu2S), Covelite (CuS) and Bornite (Cu6FeS4). Large deposits of Copper ores have been found throughout the US, Chili, Zambia, Zaïre, peru and Canada. Silver can be obtained from pure deposits, from Silver ores such as Argenite (Ag2S) and Horn Silver (AgCl) and combined with ore deposites that contain Lead, Gold or Copper.
Both Copper and Silver have been applied for centuries because of their biocidal mechanism. The Vikings used Copper strings on their ships to prevent the growth of algae and shells. Modern ships still use the same technology.
Most anti-fouling paints contain Copper, reducing the number of marine species growing on the walls of ships. Because of this measure, ships can reach their destination faster.
Nomads used Silver coins to improve drinking water quality. Well water containing Copper and Silver coins is very bright, due to the biocidal affect of these metals.Since 1869 various publications have appeared on disinfection properties of Silver. Some European and Russian villages have been using Silver for drinking water treatment for many years. Copper-Silver ionization was developed in both Europe and the United States in the 1950’s.
Copper-Silver ionization is brought about by electrolysis. An electric current is created through Copper-Silver, causing positively charged Copper and Silver ions to form.
Copper-Silver ionization brings us back to basic chemistry: an ion; an electrically charged atom, has a positive charge when it gives up an electron and a negative charge when it takes up an electron. A positively charged ion in called a kation and a negatively charged ion is calles an anion. During ionization, atoms turn into kations or anions. When Copper-Silver ionization is applied, positively charged copper (Cu+ and Cu2+) and silver (Ag+) ions are formed.
The electrodes are placed close together. The water that is disinfected flows past the electrodes. An electric current is created, causing the outer atoms of the electrodes to lose an electron and become positively charged. The larger part of the ions flows away through the water, before reaching the opposite electrode. Generally the amount of silver ions at a copper ion rate of 0,15 to 0,40 ppm lies between 5 and 50 ppb.The ion concentration is determined by the water flow. The number of ions that is released increases, when electric charges are higher.
When Copper ions (Cu+) dissolve in water, they are oxidized immediately to form Cu2+ ions. Copper can be found in the water in free form. It is commonly bond to water particles. Copper (Cu+) ions are unstable in water, unless a stabilizing ligand is present.
Copper-Silver ionization is suitable for a large number of applications. It became of interest when NASA used Copper-Silver ionization for drinking water prodcution aboard Apollo space ships in 1960. The ion generator that was used, was the size of a matchbox.Because of Copper-Silver ionization, drinking water could be produced safely in space without the use of chlorine.