Azeotropes are way cool. Azeotropic behavior allows clever engineers to deliver the benefits of a mixture with the convenient handling and storage of a single compound. Perhaps one chemical is nonflammable but not a great cleaner. But mix it with a super cleaner that happens to be flammable and what happens? You get a great nonflammable cleaner. It’s like getting two different solvents out of one drum.
First, azeotropes are very easy to distill and recover. Azeotropes can be repurified while the contamination — fluxes, oils, water, belly-button lint and such — stay “trapped” in the liquid at the bottom of the machine. In effect, using azeotropic solvents allows us to trap and concentrate the contamination by distillation instead of using filters and membranes and such.
Another important benefit of an azeotrope is the unexpected ability to mix flammable and nonflammable ingredients to produce a stable nonflammable mixture. This is an amazing chemical phenomenon. Imagine mixing flammable products — like alcohol — into a nonflammable solvent and yet still be retain the convenient and safe handling characteristics of a nonflammable chemical. This is a big boost for safety!
Lastly, azeotropes permit the “tweaking” or customizing of a solvent to obtain unique physical properties which makes the blends useful across a broad range of applications. For example, nPB is a very aggressive cleaner. But add some other ingredients in azeotropic proportions, and MicroCare can make a product that is milder and easier to handle. The possibilities are almost limitless.
A Quick Summary of the Benefits of Azeotropic Cleaning
Easy Operations: Manufacturing personnel deal with one solvent instead of multiple fluids. A single azeotropic solvent eliminates the need to monitor the ratio of solvating agent and rinse agent.
Simple Management: Monitoring the contamination level in an azeotropic solvent is much easier than determining the soil level in, say, an aqueous system. Most manufacturing companies do not have the laboratory capability to determine the soil level in the solvating agent so they prematurely discard cleaning fluids, to preserve quality production. This can be expensive.
Higher Soil-Loading Capability: Azeotropic solvents can have higher soil-loading capability, which allows the solvent to be used longer and thus reduces solvent costs.
Faster Cleaning: Because they can be tailored to the contamination, azeotropic solvents can clean much faster than some monosolvents. This can reduce the cleaning cycle time by as much as 75%, increase productivity, and eliminate production bottlenecks involving the cleaning operation.
Safety: First and foremost, azeotropes for vapor degreasers are nonflammable. This makes cleaning processes simpler, safer and more reliable by an order of magnitude.
Save Money: Both solvent and energy costs are lower with azeotropic solvent systems, and capital costs are low, too, because azeotropes can be used in standard, off-the-shelf commercially available degreasers. Azeotropic solvents are normally less expensive than the combined costs of two solvents used in a co-solvent process or than aqueous cleaners.
The chemical experts in the MicroCare Cleaning Lab are highly proficient at formulating and producing azeotropes using unorthodox ingredeints, which helps MicroCare customers save money. No other vendor has this capability combined with the depth of expertise.