Alternatives to perchloroethylene vapor degreasing for plating operations: Case study conversions
The document presents five case stories, experiences, where plating companies using perchloroethylene have substituted it with safer alternatives. Three of the platers were using perchloroethylene (PERC) degreasers to remove non-destructive testing fluids and two were using the degreasers to clean oil and buffing compound from the parts.
Four of the companies substituted PERC with water-based cleaners. One company opted to substitute acetone handwiping for PERC vapor degreasing. That company uses the acetone to remove oil and buffing compound.
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Other type of alternative
Reliability of information
Evidence of assessment: there is evidence of an official (positive) assessment of the substitution
Evidence of implementation: there is evidence that the solution was implemented and in use at time of publication
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Many plating companies relied on perchloroethylene (PERC) vapor degreasers to clean their parts prior to plating. Perchloroethylene is considered a suspect carcinogen and it is heavily regulated. The SCAQMD modified one of their cleaning regulations, to forbid the use of PERC open-top vapor degreasers.
The Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA) received funding from three Pollution Prevention Center partners to assist small platers in making the conversion away from PERC.
During the project, IRTA worked with five platers. Three of the platers were using PERC degreasers to remove non-destructive testing fluids and two were using the degreasers to clean oil and buffing compound from the parts. These applications were perceived to be more difficult than other applications where simple oil requires removal.
IRTA and the companies participating in the project tested alternative cleaning systems. Four of the companies decided to implement water-based cleaners. Three of these companies now use agilift systems to remove fluids and oil and one uses an ultrasonic system to remove oil and buffing compound. One company opted to substitute acetone handwiping for PERC vapor degreasing.
IRTA analyzed the costs of the conversion for three of the facilities. The cost comparison for these facilities demonstrates that, in all cases, it is less costly to use the alternative system. In two cases, the costs were not available for analysis.
The companies that made the conversion away from PERC vapor degreasing serve as examples for other companies in California and the U.S. The project demonstrates that small plating shops processing parts made of various substrates that are contaminated with oil, buffing compound and non-destructive fluids can make a successful and cost effective conversion to safer alternatives.
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The substitution was successful in eliminating the health risks. In most of the cases the cost evaluation is positive.
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Institute for Research and Technical Assistance
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Publication or last update: 16.05.2012