Scaling UP! H2O

350 Polymer Perspectives: Understanding Copolymer Innovations in Water Treatment

Welcome to another enriching episode of “Scaling UP! H2O,” your go-to education podcast created by and for water professionals. Join us as we learn together with lab partner and three-time guest, Mike Standish, Vice President of Water Additives at MFG Chemical

In this episode, discover valuable insights and expertise from Mike, a seasoned professional who has been working extensively in water since 1986. In today’s interview, Mike shares insights on his recent technical paper titled “Purposely Built – Introduction of a New Copolymer for Multifunctional Applications.” Explore copolymer innovations, unraveling the complexities and gaining a deeper understanding of their multifunctional applications. 

As we scale up on knowledge, Mike guides us through the past, present, and future trends in polymer technology. Join the community of water professionals seeking growth, learning, and connection in the best industry in the world – water. Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your understanding of copolymer innovations in water treatment on “Scaling UP! H2O.”



01:00 – Trace Blackmore invites you to celebrate our 350th episode!

04:00 – AWT’s technical training offerings 

10:50 – Interview with Mike Standish about his paper: ”Purposely Built – Introduction of a New Copolymer for Multifunctional Applications

46:30 – Drop by Drop With James McDonald   



“The one point I would make is that since the 1980s, everything has been a variation on the same theme. What we use today, it doesn’t matter what brand of product you use: Copolymer, Terpolymer, Tetrapolymer, or whatever – it’s all a variation on the theme of carboxylate-sulfonate and then potentially the addition of the nonionic monomer as the enhancer.” – Mike Standish

“At least 80 % of the copolymers that you’re going to see out there are going to contain AA/AMPS as  the monomer.” – Mike Standish
“Systems that can impart very, very different properties to the polymer, so you need to engage with your supplier and really, you know, kind of ask those next levels of questions because you know Polymer A is not the same as Polymer B.”


Connect with Mike Standish

Phone: 423.316.9877



LinkedIn: in/mike-standish-7890627

Read or Download Mike Standish’s Press Release HERE


Links Mentioned

AWT’s Technical Training

WEST – March 6 to 9, 2024 in Frisco, Texas

EAST – April 17 to 20, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio

Episode 14 with Mike Standish

Episode 176 where Mike Standish talked about Tagged Polymer Technologies

Episode 31 with Mark Lewis

Episode 34 (another episode) with Mark Lewis

Episode 112 where Mark Lewis interviewed Trace Blackmore

Episode 125 with Justin Ranger

Purposely Built – Introduction of a New Copolymer for Multifunctional Applications

The Rising Tide Mastermind

Scaling UP! H2O Academy video courses

Submit a Show Idea

AWT (Association of Water Technologies)


Media Mentioned

Book: Killers of the Flower Moon written by David Grann

Movie: Killers of the Flower Moon directed by Martin Scorsese (Watch on Apple TV+)

Documentary: The Doughnut King directed by Alice Gu (Watch on Hulu)

Documentary: Honeyland directed by Tamara Kotevska (Watch on HBO Max)


Drop By Drop with James 

In today’s episode, we’re thinking about the cooling tower conductivity setpoint. Picture it, if you will.  The cooling tower is running like normal. As water flows, recirculates, and evaporates, we see the conductivity continues to increase. Then it happens. The conductivity reaches its setpoint on the controller. Then what? Seriously, what literally happens next? 

Does the controller immediately send a signal to the blowdown valve to open up? How does the controller’s deadband or differential or whatever your controller manufacturer chooses to call it come into play? The controller uses a deadband so the blowdown valve does not try to chatter open and close as the conductivity fluctuates from being EXACTLY on the setpoint to NOT being exactly on the setpoint. Such chatter trying to open and close the valve could very quickly wear a valve out as well as the relays in the controller itself. Plus, the valves may not even be given enough time to reach their minimum energize times.   

Does the deadband sandwich your conductivity setpoint or is it a one-way setup where it starts at the setpoint? For example, if your conductivity setpoint is 1,000 microsiemens and your deadband is 100 microsiemens, would your blowdown valve first open at 1,000 or 1,050 microsiemens? This will depend upon your setup in the controller and the options the manufacturer has made available to you. Another point to consider is whether any biocide lockout timers are currently active which would prevent the cooling tower from blowing down during a biocide application. 

Once your blowdown valve is actually open, though, does the cooling tower conductivity start to drop IMMEDIATELY? Have you ever thought about this before? The answer is, actually, it probably does NOT start dropping immediately. The conductivity may even continue to rise until enough water has been removed from the system to drop the level low enough to trigger the makeup water valve to open. As fresh makeup water starts flowing, it will dilute the cooling tower water, and THIS is when the conductivity will begin to drop. 

Next, how low will the conductivity drop until the controller closes the blowdown valve? This is where the deadband or differential will come into play again. In our previous example of a conductivity setpoint of 1,000 microsiemens and a deadband of 100 microsiemens, when the conductivity drops to 900 microsiemens, the controller closes the blowdown valve, and the overall conductivity pattern repeats itself. 

As you can see, the control of conductivity in a cooling tower is not as simple as opening and closing a valve. There are design considerations to limit the wear and tear on the blowdown valve plus the reality of having to trigger makeup water flow as the water level lowers for the conductivity to actually start to drop.

2024 Events for Water Professionals

Check out our Scaling UP! H2O Events Calendar where we’ve listed every event Water Treaters should be aware of by clicking HERE or using the dropdown menu.


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