Best Bits has teamed up with Rozone to help readers understand how the clever science of bioremediation will reduce harmful chemicals and solvents in our workshops and remove the headache of their associated waste.
Sustainability is rightly a core issue for most businesses. Ensuring that businesses meet the needs of market demands and customer requirements, whilst keeping a ‘green’ conscience, is challenging for us all.
We hear ‘bio’ and ‘eco-friendly’ banded around freely, but how can we practically tread carefully on our planet?
To get this right for generations to come, and achieve ecological balance, we must challenge the status-quo. One area where we can do more is in workshop cleaning of parts and components; we work daily with oil and grease and, once used, these contaminants remain present in the environment.
Bioremediation technology is used globally in parts washers by businesses improving their carbon footprint, minimising waste disposal costs, complying with environmental standards such as ISO14001 and safeguarding the health and safety of employees.
Bioremediation would appear to be the perfect answer. It transforms the toxic into the non-toxic using naturally occurring organisms (microbes) as a recycling factory, converting hydrocarbons (oils and greases) into CO2 and water. With minimal waste and environmental impact.
Designed to do the same job as the traditional “sink on a drum” solvent washer, bioremediating parts cleaning systems use a water-based cleaning solution and specially designed microbes to digest the oil and grease washed off dirty parts, effectively “self-recycling” the parts washer fluid; unlike solvent which has to be taken away and exchanged on a regular service contract.
Dr Ibrahim Khalil is Rozone’s Scientific Director. They have recently designed and manufactured the ROwasher, the first Made in the UK bioremediating parts washer, ROwash fluid and microbial filter mat. We want to share with readers why this “nature-cleaning-nature” technology is so important in a workshop setting and will help us all tread more carefully on the planet.
What is bioremediation?
Dr Khalil: Naturally occurring organisms (or microbes) are used as a recycling factory. Toxic oils and grease are converted to non-toxic carbon-dioxide and water, with minimal environmental impact in the process.
Some readers will remember oil spills such as Exxon Valdez or the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill. Bioremediation was first used effectively to clean up those spills and it did so three times faster than previously used methods, with no impact to the environment.
What is a microbe?
Microbes surround us everywhere. They are used for producing insulin, they aid digestion, break down fat and reduce cholesterol. When you have your next beer, make sure to say cheers to microbes, as yeast is a microbe, helping turn sugar into alcohol.
How can microbes and bioremediation protect the earth?
When microbes consume the hydrocarbons in oily waste, they transform this into harmless carbon dioxide and water. The microbes remove the pollutants naturally in a sustainable method with minimal impact on our planet.
How do other cleaning methods compare to bioremediation?
Dr Khalil: Bioremediating parts washers are specifically designed for manual parts cleaning with the operator actively involved. This differs from automated spray wash systems that typically clean batches of parts in a cycle and work on set operating time scales. The manual cleaning process of a bioremediating parts washer can speed up the cleaning times of smaller batches and therefore improve areas of workshop efficiency, reducing an active cost often overlooked.
Many workshops will be using solvent or aqueous based parts washers and automated spray wash systems that offer a fast effective clean but soon become saturated with the oils and greases washed off dirty parts, affecting their cleaning performance. A service contractor will come to site to remove this waste on a regular basis but there is cost, not only financially with the waste disposal fees but we must also consider the transportation to and from sites which will be leaving a big footprint on our planet. With a bioremediating parts washer there is no waste service contract required and the system can be safely maintained in-house.
Aerosols, spray cleaners and rags are another cleaning method that may be used. These make less commercial sense compared to a bioremediating parts washer because of the time they take to use, their cost, their disposal, and their environmental impact. To tread carefully on our planet, workshops need to ensure there are no by-products remaining in the environment; that means pollutants in the atmosphere, down sinks, on rags, or in washed off solution.
Why is bioremediation essential to workshop cleaning?
Simply put, it allows workshops to achieve the best clean with no environmental damage or risk to technicians.
Solvent-based degreasers and kerosene baths can pose a health and safety risk and a fire hazard. Bioremediating parts washers use non-hazardous, nonflammable, pH neutral degreasing solution that is no risk to users and emit no vapours or VOCs. Risk assessments are reduced and COSHH reporting simplified. The reduced waste guaranteed with bioremediation technology brings significant cost savings for businesses and environmental benefits for our planet.
Bioremediation can cut the cost of waste management companies and reduce the carbon footprint associated with the circular economy of service contract – such as diesel emissions of travel to and from site and the additional CO2 and energy consumption at the waste management site processing the waste.
How does the three-way system of machine, filter mat and fluid work in a bioremediating parts washer?
The machine acts as a recycling container, the filter mat houses all the microbes and the fluid degreases. There are a few top tips to make this combination work at its best.
• Filter Change Each Month: the microbes need to be kept in top shape, so that the fluid stays clean. A fresh filter mat each month introduces new microbes to the colony.
• Guaranteed Microbes: Every mat must contain two hundred million microbes – below that number the bioremediation process is less effective. The correct mix for the job and the right quality.
• Variety: Variety is the spice of life – certainly for microbes. Enough variation is essential for the eco-army to cope with all the different oils and greases in a workshop.
• New Generation: Parts washer innovation now has a kick start, after a period of non-development. The new generation ROwasher is proven to cut running costs and power consumption and consumable usage. Workshops are now in a better position to achieve a great clean at a reduced cost.
• Eco-Mode: Bioremediating parts washers are looking for any way to assist in slowing down the depletion of our planet`s resources. For example, the eco-mode and double-skinned tank in the ROwasher saves around 42% on energy bills.
Treading carefully on our planet means finding solutions that help reduce our environmental impact and meet our business demands. Bioremediation is no compromise for excellent cleaning. Make sure our industry only leaves a green footprint.