How to Use a Flammable Ultrasonic Cleaning SolutionAugust 3rd, 2010
Most industrial and laboratory applications for an ultrasonic cleaner are fairly straightforward: select the correct ultrasonic cleaning solution, place objects to be cleaned in the ultrasonic cleaner and follow recommended procedures concerning temperature and time for the operation being performed.
Some requirements, however, call for special accessories and procedures. One of these is when parts require the use of volatile and flammable solvents to accomplish the cleaning process. In such instances care must be taken to prevent staff from inhaling vapors and to avoid an explosion. This is because cavitation action tends to vaporize the solvents and create an explosive cloud above the ultrasonic cleaner tank.
There is a relatively simple solution to using flammable solvents when the parts involved are small. The parts are loaded into fine mesh immersion baskets that are placed in beakers containing the flammable cleaning solution. The beakers are then capped so vapors cannot escape.
The ultrasonic cleaning tank is filled with water plus a surfactant to promote cavitation action. The top of the tank is fitted with a stainless steel cover with holes into which the beakers are inserted to the desired depth. Ultrasonic energy in the main bath causes cavitation in the beakers to perform the cleaning operation with complete safety. Tovatech offers Elma ultrasonic cleaners and accessories that can be used in this way.
For cleaning larger parts Elma manufacturers the Elmasonic X-tra LSM series of ultrasonic cleaners that can be filled with solvents with flash points above 55˚C (131˚F).
When large parts are being cleaned with highly flammable solvents with low flash points specially constructed ultrasonic cleaning equipment is necessary to address safety concerns. Among the equipment and fittings are included tanks with enough free board to keep solvent level substantially below the rim, condensation coils, fume hoods, exhaust systems, fire suppression systems, sealed wiring and other safety-related components. The equipment is constructed to international safety standards and installations must be inspected and approved by company safety personnel and local fire authorities.
Unrelated to the tank design, notice must be taken on the quantity of other flammable liquids stored in the same room as the cleaner. Contact your local fire authorities for information.
If your ultrasonic cleaning requires the use of flammable solvents, it is important that safety issues are fully addressed. Contact the ultrasonic cleaning experts at Tovatech for equipment and accessories that can be used for cleaning small parts, and for assistance in specifying ultrasonic cleaners when large parts are involved.
What type of ultrasonic cleaning operations do you perform when flammable solvents are required? How does you plant address safety issues related to flammable solvents?