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Superheated Water and Steam Degreasing of Working Stocks, Parts, and Equipment in Machining, Manufacturing and Production Processes and OperationsEPA Grant Number: R828246
Title: Superheated Water and Steam Degreasing of Working Stocks, Parts, and Equipment in Machining, Manufacturing and Production Processes and Operations
Investigators: Weber, Walter J.
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Karn, Barbara
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through August 31, 2003 (Extended to August 31, 2004)
Project Amount: $320,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability
This study will identify and develop an environmentally benign, innovative, efficient, low-cost technique for degreasing working stocks, parts and other metal surfaces using superheated water and steam. By utilizing the unique properties of pure superheated water for this purpose it is anticipated that the current use of conventional hazardous organic and alkaline solvents will be markedly reduced. The research will demonstrate that superheated water and/or steam (SHWS) will provide the same level of degreasing as conventional solvents. It is expected that the energy costs for heating water and steam will be more than balanced by the reduction of treatment and disposal costs below those associated with traditional organic and alkaline solvent systems. For difficult degreasing situations that require solvent modifiers such as surfactants and chelating agents, superheating the water will allow minimization of these additives, reducing direct costs and wastewater problems.
The research will demonstrate the ability of SHWS to degrease a variety of types of grease components from various types of surfaces. Optimum superheated water temperatures for effective degreasing will be correlated to quantifiable parameters of grease components, such as dropping point, thickener type and grease condition. Once the effects of superheated water and steam treatment have been determined, alternating sequences of superheated water and steam treatments will be tailored to specific types of grease to provide optimal degreasing effectiveness. The alternating sequence schemes will be coupled with reactor configurations and mixing scenarios that will enhance the SHWS degreasing process. The ability to alter SHWS solvent potential by varying temperature and pressure will allow this technique to remove a wide variety of greases from broad classes of metal surfaces.