NASA Green Processes for Precision Cleaning
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is developing solvent-free precision cleaning processes, eliminating the possibility that harmful solvents are released into the environment.
Cleaning is a critical part of many manufacturing and refurbishment processes to ensure the proper functioning of materials and equipment. Typically this is accomplished with solvents that have negative environmental impacts and must be dealt with as a hazardous waste stream. Many industrial chemicals, that were used decades ago still pollute the environment, contaminating drinking water, preventing swimming in certain lakes and rivers or limiting the type or amount of fish that is healthy to consume.
Scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center have developed a suite of precision cleaning processes utilizing supercritical carbon dioxide, and plasma which are capable of meeting a range of precision cleaning requirements without the need for expensive, environmentally harmful cleaning solvents. These technologies have the potential to revolutionize the precision cleaning industry by using inexpensive, renewable feedstocks, having minimal energy requirements, and producing essentially no waste.
STAGE OF INNOVATION: Tested Prototype
We envision these processes to be used outside of NASA, adopted by various industries with precision cleaning needs. The techniques developed will offer businesses a new range of cleaning technologies that can be tailored to their particular needs. Any of the options will lower their operating costs by reducing expenditures on consumables, hazardous waste disposal and labor costs.
“The precision cleaning technologies we have developed are easy to use and eliminate a waste stream from the cleaning process.” – Paul Hintze