Why Ultrasonic Cleaners Are the Best Alternative to Cleaning with Toxic Solvents
October 29, 2018
Traditional industrial cleaning methods involve the use of toxic chemicals to dissolve surface contaminants on the parts to be cleaned and mechanical scrubbing to remove residues. The cost of such chemicals continues to rise as does the cost of handling them safely and the cost of waste disposal. The best alternative to toxic chemical-based cleaning is the use of industrial ultrasonic cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaning removes surface contaminants of all kinds without requiring harsh chemicals and the method is cost effective, fast and delivers excellent cleaning results.
The Rising Cost of Chemical-Based Cleaning Methods
To ensure that surface contaminants dissolve quickly, the chemical solvents used have to be aggressive and toxic. Such chemicals are the subject of constantly increasing regulations, both for environmental effects and for worker safety. The cost of the chemicals themselves keeps rising as suppliers have to comply with rigorous storage, handling and transportation requirements. Once delivered to the industrial facility where the cleaning will take place, safe handling and waste disposal are costly.
Typical requirements for an industrial cleaning station using harsh chemicals can include leak containment during storage and handling, ventilation and protection against inadvertent contact for workers and safe disposal of waste chemicals. Disposal costs are likely to continue rising rapidly as environmental regulations are tightened and trend towards a zero footprint. Industrial facilities that decide to retain chemical cleaning methods are faced with high additional long-term investments without any benefits from improved performance.
How Ultrasonic Cleaning Avoids the Use of Chemicals
Ultrasonic cleaning is a mechanical cleaning method that uses the scrubbing effect of microscopic cavitation bubbles produced by ultrasonic waves in the cleaning solution. The cavitation bubbles are formed in the low-pressure regions of the ultrasonic sound waves and they collapse in the high-pressure peaks. This continuous formation and collapse produces a powerful scrubbing action on the surfaces of the parts to be cleaned, dislodging contaminants and cleaning rapidly and completely.
Because ultrasonic cleaning relies on the action of cavitation bubbles to remove dirt, there is no need for soaking in chemicals or for washing in aggressive solvents. The process is completely safe, using only water and sound waves. For especially difficult cleaning applications a mild detergent will sometimes speed cleaning action and for grease and rubbery deposits, a heated bath can yield improved results. Even with these additional measures, the ultrasonic cleaning process does not require special storage or handling facilities and has no regulatory oversight for waste disposal. Unlike the increasing costs for storage, handling and disposal of toxic chemicals, no additional regulations or tightened and costly standards can be expected for ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
Additional Advantages of Ultrasonic Cleaning
While the avoidance of the use of harsh chemicals makes ultrasonic cleaning an attractive alternative to traditional cleaning methods, the way ultrasonic cleaning operates results in several additional advantages. The action of the cavitation bubbles provides quick and complete cleaning everywhere the cleaning solution can penetrate.
Cleaning is rapid because the cleaning intensity can be adjusted by varying the frequency of the ultrasonic waves. Low frequencies remove heavy dirt from robust parts such as engine valves while high frequencies can clean particles from delicate components such as semiconductor microstructures. For any frequency, cavitation bubbles appear and clean surfaces wherever the cleaning solution is present. This means interior surfaces and hard-to-reach places are cleaned quickly and completely.
Kaijo’s ultrasonic cleaning equipment is designed as a cost-effective alternative to using toxic chemicals for cleaning applications. The company can help analyze the cleaning application, propose a standard or custom system and deliver the equipment from the complete line of Kaijo industrial ultrasonic cleaners.