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Application of Near Critical/Supercritical Solvent Cleaning Processes
Jonathan A. Peters, The Pennsylvania State University, Applied Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 30, State College, PA 16804; Tel: 814-865-6373; Fax: 814-863-7842; E-mail: PNU@PSU.EDU
Dr. Kenneth James,
Carbon dioxide can be used in its liquid (near critical) or supercritical fluid state as a replacement for conventional cleaning solvents, reducing the pollution associated with the operations that would otherwise require significant amounts of volatile organic compounds, ozone depleting substances, or hazardous air pollutants.
The results of several near critical/supercritical parts cleaning and treatment studies performed at the Applied Research Laboratory are discussed. Near critical/supercritical processing is a commercially viable process for many industrial, electronic and medical device cleaning applications. This applications note will focus on industrial applications such as oxygen-service pressure gauges, fuel and transmission oil filters, and bearings.
The supercritical fluid solvent phenomenon was first described by Hannay and Hogarth (1879), who reported on the solubility of cobalt chloride in supercritical ethanol. Industrial use of supercritical fluids as solvents began in the 1950s. 1 Today supercritical fluids, primarily supercritical carbon dioxide (SCCO2), are used in a number of analytical, industrial, and cleaning processes. Because it replaces or reduces the use of “conventional” solvents such as alcohols or ketones, SCCO2 processing is a Pollution Prevention (P2) technology. The following discussion describes some applications with significant P2 implications.
Replacement for Cleaning Solvents:
The use of NC/SCCO2 for parts cleaning is a natural outgrowth of the analytical and production scale extraction processes discussed above. This technique has significant potential as P2 replacement technology.
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