Ad description

A website for Magnatech Technology, www.magnatechsavesenergy.com, a company providing magnet technology for boiler systems, seen on 27 February 2021, stated "Fewer emissions for the same volume of fuel consumed and a reduced carbon footprint ... using the most powerful Neodymium Magnets available today. This proprietary method of harnessing powerful magnet technology and controlling combustion behaviour consistently, is why the Magnatech System is so effective in delivering both energy saving and reducing carbon emissions that last a lifetime".

Issue

The complainant, who believed that magnet technology had no effect on fuel efficiency, challenged whether the claims “Fewer emissions for the same volume of fuel consumed and a reduced carbon footprint” and “energy saving and reducing carbon emissions” were misleading and had been substantiated.

Response

Magnatech Technology Ltd said that their technology had been sold globally since 2007, but pointed out that their product could not be practically applied to combustion engines. They provided 18 case studies, documents pertaining to the European Commission’s TRITECH-ETV (Environmental Technologies Verification) project, a peer-reviewed study, a literature review and an unpublished Master’s dissertation.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims “Fewer emissions for the same volume of fuel consumed and a reduced carbon footprint” and “effective in delivering both energy saving and reducing carbon emissions” to mean that the product would save energy through higher levels of fuel efficiency, which in turn would result in lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

We assessed the evidence provided by Magnatech. The 18 case studies looked at the impact of Magnatech’s products on gas consumption in commercial heating systems, including supermarkets, pubs, offices, care homes and a school. The case studies, which had been prepared by Magnatech, used heating degree day (HDD) calculations to compare gas consumption for the year preceding and the year proceeding the installation of Magnatech’s products in the properties. We understood that HDD calculations were widely used in energy management programmes in the UK, with the aim of mitigating the risk of reported energy savings reflecting differences in weather in any two given periods. However, we noted that no other factors which could affect the results were considered in the comparisons presented in the case studies and that the studies had not used any form of control. We also noted that the results presented in the case studies had either been self-reported by the organisations involved, or reported by Magnatech, but had not been independently verified. For those reasons, we considered they were not adequate substantiation for the claims.

We understood that the European Commission’s TRITECH-ETV project was a pilot project aimed at developing an EU-wide scheme for validating the performance of environmental technologies. As part of the pilot, Magnatech’s product was used on boilers at a pharmaceutical factory and fuel consumption was measured without the magnet from October until November 2004, and then with magnets from January until March 2005. HDD data was used to account for the differences in outside temperatures across the two periods and a reduction in fuel consumption of 10.2% was observed. We noted that the pilot had resulted in the establishment of an EU ETV standard and a list of EU verified Energy Technologies. We noted that while Magnatech had participated in the pilot project, it did not appear on the list of verified Energy Technologies.

We also noted that as part of the pilot, Magnatech had gained certification to use the claim “Magnatech Fuel Conditioning will reduce hydrocarbon fuel consumption of a boiler by at least 6%”. However, we considered certification was not adequate substantiation for the claims being made, and in any case did not refer to a reduction in carbon emissions or footprint.

The peer-reviewed study applied magnetic fields to fuel pipes and observed the temperature of the resulting flame increase. It concluded that magnetic control of combustion and air flows could be possible. However, the study did not relate to the product advertised. We therefore considered it was not adequate substantiation for the claims.

The literature review looked at the effect of magnetic fields on fuel and on the performance and emissions of different types of Internal Combustion engines. It concluded that the literature showed fuel consumption performance in engines could be improved with magnets. However, some studies referred to in the review presented contradicting results where emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide were concerned. Furthermore, the literature review had indicated that there was no consensus on whether or not the use of magnets on fuel could decrease carbon emissions and it had considered the application of the technology to internal combustion engines, to which we understood Magnatech’s product could not practically be applied.

We had also not seen the studies referred to in the review in full, as the review only provided summaries. For those reasons, we considered it was not adequate substantiation for the claims.

The Master’s dissertation examined the effects of Magnatech’s products on a laboratory boiler, recording results with the magnets, with no magnets, and with the magnets in different positions on the boiler fuel line and air intake. The study concluded that there was no significant improvement in oxygen, carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide emissions as a result of the use of Magnatech’s product. We therefore considered the study had not shown that using Magnatech’s products had resulted in a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. We further noted that the study was an unpublished Master’s thesis and had not been peer-reviewed. For those reasons, we considered the study was not adequate to substantiate the claims.

We concluded that the body of evidence provided was not adequate substantiation for claims that the product would improve fuel efficiency, thereby saving energy and reducing carbon emissions, and, therefore, the claims were misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration), and 11.1 (Environmental claims).

Action

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Magnatech Technology Ltd to ensure that their future ads did not claim that their products could improve fuel efficiency, save energy or reduce carbon emissions, without adequate substantiation.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.7     11.1     3.11    


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