Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

April 2014    |    Volume: 46    |    Number: 4

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

Breathing and cleaning

Sustainability has become a key goal of industrial and business organizations. And nothing makes a human more sustainable than the ability to breathe air — the cleaner the better.

The average person breathes from 18,000 to 30,000 times a day, depending upon age, exercise, health and which website or medical authority you’re consulting.

In past ages, industrial workers often dealt with less-than-pristine air in factories and towns. Now, the dirty factory largely remains only in the minds of the media and people unfamiliar with today’s clean, well-lit manufacturing sites.

Industrial air cleaners can take a lot of the credit. The latest version of the Smog-Hog electrostatic precipitator offers variable speed controls to cut energy use and control air flow from 200 to 600 cubic feet per minute. Larger models can handle air flows from 400 to 9,000 cfm, all while helping companies meet OSHA and EPA regulations.

These low-energy, high-efficiency options operate on 0.7 amperes per 1,000 cubic feet per minute capacity. They use washable collection cells to capture up to 99.9 percent of submicron smokes, mists and emulsion oils, nabbing particles down to 0.01 microns in size.

Various prefilters and/or mist-stop filters catch the largest particles first. The ionizing section electronically charges smaller particles, trapping them on plates in a collecting cell, similar to the way static electricity attracts wool. Recirculating the cleaned air into the plant reduces make-up air requirements up to 80 percent, saving more energy. Captured liquids drain from the collection cell for disposal, reuse or recycling.

Typical Smog-Hog applications involve visible industrial emissions from asphalt coating, CNC machinery, industrial cooking, plastics, textile and rubber processing, as well as soldering, sintering, laser cutting and etching.

Of course, clean air is only one aspect of the modern manufacturing plant. But harsh chemical cleaners, degreasers and lubricants have become so passé.

Enter RSC Bio Solutions, a joint effort from Radiator Specialty Co., Gemtek and Terresolve. The company formed last year to meet the increasing market demand for bio-based industrial cleaners and degreasers.

Earlier this year, RSC began offering bio-based versions of the venerable Liquid Wrench lubricating oils and Gunk degreasers. The new versions don’t sacrifice performance, but they do sacrifice the toxic chemicals.

RSC’s EnviroLogic gear oils and hydraulic fluids come from plant-based technology. The safe, biodegradable liquids are suitable for numerous industrial gear applications where safety managers must worry about exposing the oil to the environment.

Its SafeCare industrial cleaners, degreasers, solvents and specialty products extend the life and performance of equipment and tools. Like the other RSC products, SafeCare compounds are biodegradable, virtually nonhazardous, and reduce cleanup costs and exposure to regulatory fines.

Michael Hughes is the managing editor of Industrial Engineer.