Ultrasonic cleaners use sound waves and the cavitation effect of rapidly collapsing bubbles in a liquid bath to thoroughly clean objects placed in them. While ultrasound and the cavitation bubbles it produces will produce a cleaning effect by themselves, they are most effective when used in conjunction with a cleaning solution added to the water bath.
Minimizing damage to the environment has always been important, but “green” solutions have become more popular these days for everything from energy sources to cleaning supplies. A major component of the environmental control solution involves minimizing waste when cleaning parts in factories and manufacturing plants.
The latest answer to the issue of minimizing industrial waste is the use of aqueous-based or water-based cleaning solvents. These solvents are nonflammable and, whether comprised of detergents, alkalines, microbes, or other substances, they contain few to no “VOCs” (Volatile Organic Compounds).
How Water-Based Ultrasonic Parts Cleaner Solvents Work
While other types of solvents dissolve contaminants by injecting them directly into the water stream, aqueous-based solvents work by breaking dirt, grease, and other contaminants into smaller parts using heat, detergent, time and agitation. This allows contaminants to be removed without adding a large amount of grease or oils into the water table.
Drawbacks of Water-Based Industrial Parts Cleaning
Aqueous-based solutions are not perfect; they work best on parts that will not flash rust when immersed in water. Flash rust, or surface rust, occurs very quickly when particles of iron ore interact with moisture at the surface. It can even bleed through protective coating. Fortunately, there are additives that can be added to water-based solutions to help prevent this, and flash rust can be easily cleaned off of metal, should you accidentally add the wrong type of part.
Maintenance Requirements of Aqueous-Based Solvents
Aqueous-based solutions require basic, routine maintenance. This maintenance is not difficult and includes adding to the solution daily, skimming oil off of the surface, and keeping an eye on filter units, which need to be replaced every few weeks or so.
Advantages of Water-Based Parts Cleaner Solvents
Using an aqueous-based solution carries with it many advantages:
- Reduction of hazardous waste. This is probably the most important advantage to using water-based cleaning solutions. The used solution is in general non-hazardous, and can be disposed of much more easily as a result. This can create easier regulatory obligations for you involving less paperwork and training, and can improve your liability status. This, however, is only true if you are not washing parts that will cause heavy metals to gather in the solution. In the end, this will also create a “greener” image for your company, which is priceless.
- Financial Savings. Since labor tends to be the most expensive part of cleaning parts, and water-based solutions are far less labor intensive, you can save up to 75% in labor costs using this kind of solution. In addition, less labor requirements combined with the nature of the water-based solution means fewer instances of employee exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Long-term company benefits. Switching over to an aqueous-based solution will pay off in the long run. In general, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the “payback period” ranges anywhere from three months to 4.7 years after initiating the switch to water-based solvents. This information and more is available in several EPA fact sheets, entitled:
- Aqueous Parts Cleaning -Best Environmental Practices for Fleet Maintenance, U.S. EPA Fact Sheet
- Aqueous Brake Washers-Best Environmental Practices for Fleet Maintenance, U.S. EPA Fact Sheet
- Case Studies in Aqueous Parts Cleaning- Best Environmental Practices for Auto Repair Shops
Companies are increasingly paying attention to their impact upon the environment. Alternate cleaning methods can release toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment, and require the consumption of considerably more energy. Here are a few reasons why switching to ultrasonic cleaning is better for the environment and your business:
Gentler Ultrasonic Cleaning Detergents
Ultrasonic cleaning detergents are typically much less harsh than those used for traditional cleaning methods. The ultrasound waves and resulting army of tiny bubbles that differentiate ultrasonic cleaning do a lot of the work on a scope and scale that just can’t be achieved with a scrub brush or solvent circulation. As a result, water-based cleaning soaps are sufficient to get the job done with ultrasonic parts washers.
Spray cleaning, vapor degreasing, and manual cleaning create great risk of exposing workers to highly caustic chlorinated and fluoridated agents and hydrocarbons. All of these pose health risks to those performing the cleaning, but also can harm the atmosphere. Ultrasonic cleaning occurs in a contained tank environment where there is significantly less risk to workers.
Other forms of immersion cleaning use considerably more energy than ultrasonic cleaning. Heating elements and circulation pumps pull much more energy than ultrasonic transducers. Less energy use means less pollution.
It’s worth noting that most ultrasonic cleaning detergents are approved by the EPA… and, as you know, that governmental agency can be really hard to please.
Have questions about ultrasonic cleaning or what kind of ultrasonic cleaner would best fit your needs? Contact our team of ultrasonic cleaning experts today at (888) 989-6278.