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December 5, 2018

Is There a Cold-Cleaning Solvent That Won’t Put Workers at Risk?

FluoSolv AM is the safe, new cold-cleaning solvent
The world of solvents is rife with risks. nPB, also known as 1-bromopropane or n-propyl bromide, became a popular vapor degreaser when TCE (trichloroethylene), TCA (1,1,2-trichloroethane), and PCE (perchloroethylene) became heavily regulated (read more about the hazards of these three chlorinated solvents in our post about parts washers).  Since then, the National Toxicity Program has deemed nPB “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”  This is troubling because nPB is still widely used due to its propensity for solvating difficult to remove oils and greases in vapor degreasing and cold wipe applications.  

NuGenTec has developed a line of solvents that work as drop-in replacements for dangerous chemicals like nPB and TCE and the non-flammable FluoSolv® AM is the newest, most effective cold cleaning solvent blend with none of the risks to worker health and safety.  

One physical characteristic that allows FluoSolv® AM to out-penetrate solvents like nPB and TCE is its relatively low surface tension.  To understand how surface tension can affect the performance of a cleaning solvent, we’ll explore what surface tension is.

Leaf with a water droplet

How Does Surface Tension Work?

Surface tension is a measurement of the attraction that molecules have for each other due to factors like molecule length, shape, and polarity.  If molecules within a liquid have a greater affinity for each other than surrounding surfaces, they will have a high surface tension. Water, for instance, has a high surface tension due to its polarity.  This is what causes water to bead into droplets, as shown in the picture.

You could also picture surface tension as an indicator for how much surface area a liquid will cover.  Because water molecules have a great attraction to each other as opposed to the surface of the leaf in the picture, the water will only take up a small surface area.  This isn’t ideal for cleaning purposes. Let’s explore the reasoning:  

Why Low Surface Tension is Better for Precision Cleaning

A drop of liquid with a high surface tension will bead up and cover a small surface area whereas a drop of liquid with low surface tension will spread out and cover a large surface area.  When it comes to cleaning, a higher surface tension will render a liquid unable to penetrate intricate surfaces or spread between a contaminant and the surface. This, consequently, is one reason FluoSolv® AM is preferable to traditional solvents such as nPB and TCE: FluoSolv® AM has a lower surface tension and is able to penetrate where nPB and TCE cannot.  Additionally, FluoSolv® AM doesn’t share the same hazards as legacy solvents.

Benefits to Health and Safety

The legacy solvents like TCE and nPB are being replaced by companies seeking to safeguard worker’s health and safety.  FluoSolv® AM is perfect for those hoping to switch their cold spray, rinse, and wipe operations from carcinogenic and toxic solvents to safer alternatives with superior performance.  FluoSolv® AM has the following safety and cleaning characteristics:
  • Non-flammable & Non-Toxic
  • High Kb value provides excellent  solvency for tough to clean residues
  • Low global warming potential (GWP)
  • Low toxicity; high allowable exposure limit (AEL);
  • No ceiling on instantaneous exposure
  • Chemically stable; will not become acidic

NuGenTec: Redefining Chemistry

If you are seeking healthier, more environmentally responsible, and less costly alternatives for your industrial processes, contact NuGenTec today.