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New process technology for cleaning heavily soiled work wear applying halogen-free organic solvents

Two basically different cleaning processes were developed:
the single (SL) cleaning process, a single phase solvent/water process where a solvent combination is used as a homogeneous system combining several steps for cleaning and rinsing;
the dual (DL) cleaning process, a dual phase solvent/water process using organic solvents from a natural sources (a sequence of solvent, solvent/water and water treatments is applied in such a way that the solvent/water ratio coincides with the composition of the azeotropes formed by the organic solvent and water).

A third process, the HCS process, has been independently developed elsewhere. It is a modification of the conventional hydrocarbon solvent cleaning technique. This novel HCS process was included in the summarizing comparative evaluation.

The DL-process leads to very good cleaning results even in the case of severely soiled work wear. The odour of the cleaned fabrics is free from mineral oil scents even in the case where the originally planned aqueous after-treatment is omitted. The SL-process leads to acceptable cleaning results. The washing process can be carried out in conventional washing machines in cases where the content of volatile solvents in the soil are low. All investigated solvents show minor problems compared to Perc. All the solvents do not seem to create any inadmissible toxicity and ecological problems and can be handled safely if the technically available appropriate safety measures are installed and taken into account.

The overall results of the project show that the DL-process and SL-liquid process in principal will lead to an industrial applicability which can solve the environmental problems and economic problems of rental laundries dealing with work wear which are caused by the high costs of waste water treatment in order to eliminate hazardous soil components.

Reported by

wfk-Forschungsinstitut für Reinigungstechnologie eV
Adlerstraße 42
47798 Krefeld
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