After years of research and regulatory reviews involving numerous federal agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through its SNAP process, approved in July 2015 the commercialization of the new molecule from Chemours (ex-DuPont) optimized for critical cleaning. With this approval, the new material now can be offered for sale in almost every country in the world.
The specific molecule is “methoxytridecafluoroheptene” (MPHE). It will be marketed under the trade name Vertrel® Sion™ by Chemours. MicroCare is the authorized source for Chemours fluids in many parts of the world. MicroCare made the first commercial shipments of drums and pails of Vertrel® Sion™ fluids to customers in the U.S. this month.
Tom Tattersall, MicroCare Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, sees this as a breakthrough. “We’re thrilled that the last regulatory hurdle finally has been cleared. Vertrel® Sion™ fluids will help companies clean better, faster, less expensively and with the lowest GWP environmental profile than any current technology. We are confident it will become the preferred replacement chemistry for nPB, TCE, HCFCs and high cost HFE precision cleaners.”
Nonflammable MPHE is in the HFO family of chemistries. This new fluid is approved for use in vapour degreasers, in aerosol dispensers and in adhesive applications. In terms of cleaning performance and handling, it replaces trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, n-propyl bromide (nPB), HCFC-225, alcohol, acetone, MEK and other fluids where maximum cleaning power is needed.
“The first product we will be shipping is an extra-strength degreaser,” explains David Ferguson, MicroCare Product Manager for Precision Cleaning Products. “Long-term we will tailor the formulations, add new capabilities, package it in aerosols, and adapt this molecule for a variety of critical cleaning chores. It’s versatile, it works great, it’s safe and it’s extremely economical.”
The Chemours Vertrel® Sion™ fluid is being commercialized by MicroCare in North America. Samples and finished product are being pre-positioned at MicroCare warehouses in Belgium and Singapore, allowing speedy deliveries when customers are ready.
The first Vertrel® Sion™ product to be commercialized is an azeotrope of MPHE and t-DCE. This formulation compares favourably to the most aggressive chlorinated and brominated solvents. The product is generally considered very safe for people, with an 8-Hour TWA exposure limit of 200 ppm. It features a Kb value of 103, the boiling point is 47˚C, the density is 1.28 g/L, the surface tension is ~21 dyn/cm and the viscosity is 0.42 cP. These characteristics make the first Vertrel® Sion™ azeotrope an outstanding choice for vapor degreasing.
The Vertrel® Sion™ fluid is exceptionally stable, so there is no acid testing or stabilizer maintenance. The product can be used in standard designed vapour degreasing equipment. This means costs are minimized and the environmental footprint is dramatically reduced.
MicroCare plans a tightly structured roll-out of the new product in 4Q2015 and early 2016. For more than two years the company has performed extensive beta-testing of the chemistry and is “extremely confident” of the molecule’s behaviour and performance.
“We’re not going to blanket the world with it, not yet,” Mr. Ferguson adds. “We’re introducing it in a very controlled schedule so we can provide full technical support to each customer”.