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How to reduce costs through safer degreasing and cleaning products 

As we move towards greener manufacturing and overhaul processes, the products we use are changing. More and more companies are moving away from straight solvent chemicals with flammability issues and carcinogens and looking towards safer alternatives. 

The products used for aerospace degreasing applications are no different, and Silmid have partnered with Socomore to provide on demand access to next generation cleaning compounds for a variety of applications. 

Selecting the right cleaning compound for your application can lead to a range of cost savings including: 

  • Reduced insurance premiums; 
  • Lower product usage per job; 
  • Reduced transportation and delivery costs; 
  • Reduced cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

There are two main approaches a user can take to reduce the costs of general cleaning: selecting a product or method that emits lower VOCs or selecting a chemical with a higher flash point. We will look at both below. 

Lowering Your VOC Emissions 

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound and according to the European Community (EC) is any compound other than methane that contains carbon and at 20°C, it’s vapour pressure is superior to 10 Pascal. VOC can be expressed as a percentage (weight of the VOC compared to total product weight) or in g/l (weight of VOC in grams contained in 1 litre of product). 

VOC emissions have a direct impact on the environment as well as the health of operators, users and the general public. The European Union have adopted several directives aimed at reducing VOCs including 1999/13/EC and 2001/81/EC, cascading down into local and national restrictions on production and maintenance sites. 

To reduce VOC emissions, customers can look into products with a lower vapour pressure, lower VOC content, or lower evaporation rate. 

Reduced Vapour Pressure and VOC Content 

VOC emissions are worked out by multiplying the VOC rate with the amount of solvent used. Not all cleaning solvents contain 100% VOC content, and so switching to a lower VOC product will reduce your overall emissions. Alternatively, seeking a lower vapour pressure (below 10 Pascal) completely eliminates your VOC emissions.   

Reduced Evaporation Rate 

Even if a chemical is a 100% VOC, it may be safer than an alternative product due to its’ evaporation rate. This is the speed at which the product evaporates compared to butyl acetate and directly affects the amount of solvent needed to complete a task. A slower evaporation rate means less solvent is used, and therefore a lower VOC emission. 

Selecting a Higher Flash Point Chemical 

The flash point is the lowest temperature that the vapours of a solvent containing chemical can be ignited. A lower flash point means a more unstable product, and more care will need to be taken to ensure this product is used in a safe environment. 

Different flash points also bring with them different transportation restrictions, as it directly affects the packing group assigned to the product. According to ADR, chemicals with a flash point of less than 23°C are assigned a packing group of II. Anything over 23°C, and the product is assigned a packing group of III, meaning less restrictions on limited quantities and therefore easier transportation. 

The below snapshot captures a number of traditional cleaning compounds, alongside some of the newer alternatives from Socomore. 

Chemical Name  VOC Content (%)  Vapour Pressure  Flash Point (°C)  Evaporation Rate 
Methyl Ethyl Ketone MEK (MEK) 10095 hPA-6 3.8
Acetone 100240 hPa-175.6
Toluene 10029 hPa 41.9
Isopropyl Alcohol(IPA) 10043.3 hPa 121.7 
Socomore Diestone DLS 10012.4 hPa 300.5
Socomore Hyso QD  100 10 hPa 41<0.13 
Socomore Diestone SR 10010 hPa55-600.12 
Socomore Sococlean A2501 
<3025.19 hPa 26 0.32

 

When assessing the alternatives, it is important to consider the various factors mentioned above in your decision, and ensure that the health and safety benefits do not compromise the effectiveness in completing the task. The Socomore range of solvent cleaners mentioned carry a range of OEM approvals across the full spectrum of airframe, engines and landing gear. A full list of these approvals can be found on the relevant technical data sheet (TDS).