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Report challenges safety of hot water cylinders

Research Team - Mark Anderson, Vincent O'Brien & Charlie Shivers
The research team - Mark Anderson, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, University of Ulster, Vincent O’Brien and Charlie Shivers, Copper Industries.
Rebecca Kincade on March 11, 2014 - 9:33 am in News

The findings of a major R&D project has challenged the viability, safety and effectiveness of stainless steel hot water cylinders, and identified potential health risks linked to their use.

In an industry first, Copper Industries, based in Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST) at the University of Ulster, has conducted a detailed analysis of hot water storage cylinders made from stainless steel compared to those made from copper.

The report directly addresses the ‘copper versus stainless steel’ debate which has challenged the international plumbing industry since stainless steel was first introduced as a cheaper alternative to copper in the mid 90s.

As well as highlighting the limitations of stainless steel cylinders in terms of heat transfer and durability, it identifies the lack of regulations and guidelines for their production. This had led to poor manufacturing processes, resulting in cylinders which are substandard and prone to internal corrosion.  Such corrosion encourages the growth of legionella (a form of pneumonia) which can cause respiratory damage amongst vulnerable groups.

To safeguard users and minimise health and safety risks, Copper Industries and the University of Ulster are calling for the introduction of British Standard/ EU guidelines in direct relation to the manufacture of stainless steel storage cylinders.

With over 30 years’ experience in the manufacture of industrial and domestic hot water cylinders, Charlie Shivers, MD of Copper Industries believes the outcome of this research is highly significant:

“Since the mid nineties there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the copper vs stainless steel debate, but we’ve tackled this issue head-on. Our research finally sets the record straight and confirms the long term benefits of copper in terms of heat conduction, cost savings and public health.

“Industry standards apply to all manufacturing processes, but the lack of appropriate guidelines for stainless steel cylinder production is a cause for genuine concern. We would call for the introduction of legislation equivalent to British or EU Standards to enable best practice, informed decision-making, and fairness all round.”

This call for action is endorsed by Mark Anderson from the University of Ulster: “The report has identified the need for more comprehensive British Standards, and eventually European Norms, to ensure all hot water storage cylinders are manufactured to the highest possible standard and so that they can be CE marked in line with other construction products.”

While this research is of great benefit to plumbers, architects, and developers it is also directly relevant to homeowners and DIY experts who want to make the best decisions when it come to their property and their health.

The full report is available on www.copperindustries.co.uk/rd

R&D report safety


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