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Tech Asst Needed: Methanol Reduction

I am working with a company that manufactures evaporative cooling media and
has requested assistance in reducing or eliminating methanol use in their
manufacturing process and I need help.

Process Description:  The process begins with a roll of paper-thin non-woven
fiberglass matting bound with a water-soluble binder.  The matting formula is
manufactured specifically for the client and is a trade secret.  The sheet of
fiberglass matting passes through a phenolic resin/water/methanol bath and is
then fed through rollers which squeeze off excess resin.  The sheet then
passes along additional rollers used to adjust tension and feed angle and is
fed horizontally into a fluted tray and press which corrugates it.  The press
has a downward vacuum to pull the sheet into the flutes.  The corrugated
sheet then passes through an infrared unit to cure the resin, is cooled and
separated from the tray, trimmed and ready for the next part of the process.

The Problem:  The resin bath is currently about 6% resin, 43-70% water and
25-40% methanol (adjusted by the operator during the process).   The phenolic
resin gives the product rigidity once it is cured.  The water is necessary to
loosen the water-soluble binding agent and make the matting soft enough to
corrugate.  The methanol is used to prevent it from becoming too soft and
tearing as it hangs loosely from the tension and feed rollers (about 10').
The client is interested in eliminating methanol from this process by finding
a non-VOC containing, water compatible alternative for the methanol or by
changing the impregnation method or the mechanics of the feed system to
prevent the sheet from hanging so a straight resin/water solution can be
used.  The mechanical set up is complicated by the need to adjust the angle
of feed between 15-30.

I'm looking for any suggestions or leads to experts that can help them.

Laura M. Comer, Pollution Prevention Coordinator
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - South District
PO Box 2549 
Fort Myers, FL 33902-2549
239/332-6975 x 170
FX 239/332-6969

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