Technical Concept- Cleaners & Degreasers: Importance And Types

Cleaning is considered to be an essential part of every industry. Industrial cleaning is the act of cleaning of unwanted particles in industrial facilities such as factories, warehouses, power plants

Cleaning is no longer lo-tech. Cleaning is considered to be an essential part of every industry. Industrial cleaning is the act of cleaning of unwanted particles in industrial facilities such as factories, warehouses, power plants and other types of industrial facilities. Industrial Cleaners are chemical solutions which are specially formulated to clean or remove oil, dust, dirt, grease, anti-seize, gear oils contaminants & other impurities from the metal surface.

Thinners

Thinners are referred to as mineral spirits. Mineral spirits are also recognized as white spirits, which are made up of hydrocarbons that are leftover from petroleum distillates of the oil refining process. A thinner solvent is used for cleaning in industries.

Solvent Cleaners

Solvent Cleaners are liquids which are used to clean contaminants. It utilizes either a unique solvent, blend of solvents, or a blend of solvents and other compounds to maximize performance parameters for a selected application. Many users prefer thinners over Solvent cleaners, But this may not lead to desired results. The reasons mentioned below justify the above statement.

Thinner Solvent Cleaner
 Pros Readily available in the marketEconomicalEffectively works for degreasing of equipment.Pros Can be altered ( or developed ) depending upon the application requirement relatively higher flash pointSafer to handle works effectively on most inorganic and organic contaminants can be used over an extended temperature range
Cons Hazardous to healthLeaves an oily film after cleaning and degreasing.Very low FlashpointHighly flammableIncompatibility with few materialsCons Hazardous to health.Relatively expensive

Solvent Cleaners are usually used in an application where water exposure is not recommended in the application. For other applications where water avoidance is not a condition, Water Based cleaners are usually recommended. Water incidentally is a subsection category of solvent. It is categorized as Universal Solvent as it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. Water is been used as a primary solvent in a water-based cleaner. However, it can be further fortified with many of the solvents and detergents, pH modifiers and a variety of other compounds. Water-based cleaners remove contaminants not only by dissolving contaminants, but they also at times chemically react with the contaminants and make them more readily dissolvable in water leaving a clean surface behind.

 Solvent Cleaner Water-based Cleaner
Pros Can be altered (or developed) depending upon the application requirement relatively higher FlashpointSafer to handle works effectively on most inorganic and organic contaminants can be used over an extended temperature rangePros Compatible with most of the materials. Effectively cleans organic contaminants. Non-hazardous to health.Easy to handle and the store is non – flammable. It reduces disposal cost.
 Cons Hazardous to health relatively expensiveCons Evaporation Rate is the low-temperature range for cleaning is low

TYPES OF WATER-BASED CLEANERS

Based on high and low-temperature applications and different pH values, water-based cleaners are usually classified as

Alkaline Cleaners Acidic Cleaners Neutral Cleaners

Based on high and low-temperature applications and different pH values, water-based cleaners are usually classified as:

Alkaline Cleaners

Acidic Cleaners

Neutral Cleaners

Alkaline cleaners

Alkaline cleaning agents are mainly used for removal of organic deposits such as dirt, oils & grease. They are particularly effective because these materials saponify fats and oils while neutralizing any acidic soils. They are more effective to clean organic soils such as dirt, oils & grease.

Note: Saponification is the process of creating soap from the interaction of alkaline materials with fatty acid lubricants

Acidic cleaners

Acidic cleaning agents are mainly used for removal of inorganic deposits such as weld and laser scales and other oxides such as rust. The active ingredients are normally strong mineral acids.

Often, surfactants and corrosion inhibitors are added to the acid, since acid used to neutralise alkalis.

NEUTRAL CLEANERS

Neutral Cleaner is an effective universal cleaner, which can be utilized for cleaning all water-safe surfaces. The pH of the product is neutral which makes it well suited for cleaning a polished surface. It is also well suited for use in spray bottles

Importance of cleaning

Effective Cleaning is expected to

Reduce downtime Increase productivity

Increase equipment lifespan

Avoid contamination related concerns

Downtimes are unplanned stops in the production line due to equipment failure and eventual breakdowns. It is the single largest source of loss of production, which hampers the productivity of industry voluminously.

Effective cleaners have the potential to be very effective in terms of performance. However, the cleaning ability depends on what is being cleaned, a substrate being cleaned and the process constraints. All the three parameters must work in tandem for the best cleaning results.

To choose between a water-based cleaner or a solvent cleaner or simple thinner, one must evaluate the application, other requirements, and eventual goals. One must consider performance, safety, and economical solution. A good cleaner that is made specifically for removing contaminants may not remove machine greases such as synthetic greases, dielectric grease, high-temperature grease etc. A cleaner that works well on stainless steel may not be compatible with aluminium and a cleaner that removes machining oil may not be clean enough for greases from machines.

The bottom line is that it’s difficult to make an overall reliable judgment of the supremacy of a type of cleaners without evaluating the unique situation of the user. Luckily, even with the ever-mounting regulations, there are still multiple choices that include both solvents and water-based cleaners.