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Re: bioremediating parts washers

Lin -

Region 9 just completed a set of fact sheets on water based parts cleaners,
including microbial sinktop units. We found that microbial cleaners are very
effective for light-duty cleaning and preventative maintenance, but may not be
as useful for very heavy duty cleaning (though cleaning performance can be
improved if the solution is used in an immersion unit, where the parts can soak
for a while). And we did find that, claims to the contrary, some of these units
do need to be maintained - the microbes can be overwhelmed by too much grease,
or killed by use of toxic solvents above the sink, etc. It is important to note
that the microbes do very little of the cleaning action - they primarily work to
reduce the oil and grease in the solution and extend solution life. On the
upside, we found that these units dramatically reduce waste generation and the
cost of parts cleaning, and there are plenty of people who are using them
successfully - from small shops to large fleet operations. In fact, the Air
Quality Management District in Southern California was so confident about the
efficacy of aqueous alternatives to solvents, they banned regular solvent sinks.
This is driving a whole new crop of units and solutions.

You can view or download our fact sheets on this topic (Aqueous Parts Cleaning
for Auto Repair, Aqueous Parts Cleaning for Fleet Maintenance, Case Studies in
Aqueous Cleaning for Auto Repair, and Case Studies of Aqueous Cleaning for Fleet
Maintenance) at our web site: www.epa.gov/region09/p2/autofleet

The web site also has the executive summaries from two comprehensive studies of
aqueous cleaners done for the City of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles.
We are definitely recommending these units, and would encourage everyone to
download and use our materials in your outreach efforts. And being from New
Hampshire myself, I know that many shops could use the help! Call me if you have
any questions.

John Katz
P2 Coordinator
EPA Region 9

lhill@des.state.nh.us on 05/18/2000 06:37:53 AM

Please respond to lhill@des.state.nh.us

To:   P2Tech@great-lakes.net
Subject:  bioremediating parts washers

Has anyone tried these types of parts washers? (taken from Pollution
Lin Hill, NHPPP, 603-271-2902

Water-based parts cleaning became practical with the introduction of
bioremediation: the use of living organisms to turn hazardous materials into
harmless components.
Chemists and engineers put microbes to work in an industrial setting by
creating a parts washer that combines a powerful cleaning fluid with
bioremediating microbes. The fluid lifts grease and dirt from the part and
flushes it into a reservoir. Here, the microbes, thriving in a tailored
environment, digest the grease. The components of the digestion process-CO2
and water-evaporate into the air.
Early bioremediating parts washers had their shortcomings. Some lubricants
were difficult to clean and the bioremediating process sometimes produced a
barnyard odor. The microbes themselves often succumbed to temperature
Today's state-of-the-art bioremediating parts washer has corrected these
problems. New designs combine fluid, filter, pump, heater, and the safe-but
voracious-microbes in a closed-loop system that requires little maintenance.
Its cleaning efficiency is comparable to parts washers using premium
solvents. When used properly, there is nothing to haul or skim. The fluid
cleans the part, and the microbes clean the fluid. For this reason, the
fluid remains at peak efficiency and need never be replaced-just topped off
to replace fluid lost to normal evaporation.
The latest generation of surfactant fluids can remove even fifth-wheel
grease and other lubricants that defy ordinary water-based cleaners. New
strains of robust microbes can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. The
only maintenance required is the monthly replacement of a filter mat that
captures particulates and supplies a fresh colony of microbes. Disposal of
the filter mat usually may be as ordinary solid waste.
Thus is the parts washer once again the simple, easy-to-use, cost-effective
machine that does its job with little attention. And at little or no cost to
the environment.
Contact: ChemFree Corp., Francis Marks, president, 8 Meca WayNorcross, GA
30093. Tel: 770-564-5580; Fax: 770-564-5533.
About the author: Francis Marks is president of ChemFree Corp.