Regulatory and Environmental Consulting
by Nathan Schiff, Ph.D.
Associate Editor - Institutional
I was impressed by Ecolab's ADVACARE 120 system, for institutional and hospital laundries which is designed for use at energy-saving temperatures of 120o F (49o C), rather than at the traditional140?F (60?C)first rinse. The system includes chemicals as well as electronic dispensing and water reclamation equipment. I was told that hoses and drum connectors have been re-engineered for the handling and transfer of chemicals, in order to prevent spills and accidental mixing of incompatible products. Jeff Scott, Canadian Area Manager for Ecolab's Textile Division, said this program will be launched in Canada in August, pending expected approval by Health Canada .
The detergent developed for this program uses a low alkalinity formulation, which contains several enzymes. The use of enzymes in laundry formulations isn't new, and has been incorporated in various powder products. However, this system uses three different types of enzymes in a liquid to provide exceptional soil removal capabilities.
All enzymes are proteins; derived mostly from plants, animals and bacterial sources.Protease enzymes specialize in breaking down the protein stains at relatively low temperatures. Similarly, lipase enzymes are specific for breaking down oil and grease stains. So what's so difficult about balancing proteases, lipases and other enzymes together into one liquid blend?A protease enzyme can't tell the difference between a genuine protein stain and a lipase enzyme, which also is a protein. So it digests the lipase just as readily as a stain. Ecolab=s combining of three different enzymes, plus specialized enzyme-compatible detergents in a low alkalinity blend enables it to wash at 120? F. This is said to result in energy savings plus a gentler treatment of fabrics. According to Scott, the keystone of the process is its new totally biodegradable sour-sanitizer which sanitizes linens at 90? F or less, during the souring stage.
IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS NOW AFFORDABLE
Using the same technology as your credit card, a radio frequency chip or laser paint thread can now be used to track garments and linens in commercial and institutional laundries. Costing from US $0.60 to 0.80 each, these can be inserted into textiles and garments. The Laser Paint Technology uses a laser thread and proprietary fluorescent inks, formulated by Spectal Sciences. According to Anders Hansen( Central/ATS, Inc. - the Jensen Group), the laser thread allows for the input of more information than is possible with the radio frequency technology. The radio frequency chip which has been around for a number of years has come down dramatically in price, andcan be sewn or heat-sealed into fabrics and garments. Both technologies allow for input of information regarding the history of the item. This includes the number of times and dates on which it has been washed as well as the detergents and conditions used each time. The recorded data is readily retrievable.
Laser paint and radio frequency do not depend on barcoding. Data can be retrieved even when the garment is out of sight, or distorted by twisting. Both systems have been tested after 100 washes, and show no degredation. Laundry management can track and recall individual items from a conveyor system, or even in a bundle.
Liquid carbon dioxide was originallyused by Ratheon to super-clean optics for weapon systems and nuclear components requiring zero residue tolerance. This space-age technology has been adapted by both Global Technologies and Micell Technologies as an alternative dry cleaning solvent. Both systems use carbon dioxide from industrial processes and are environmentally neutral.
The key to liquid CO2 cleaning lies in the detergent used. In the Global Technologies system, the DryWash fluid contains liquid carbon dioxide plus detergent(s) and a fragrance. The DryWash fluid is delivered as such, complete, to the individual dry cleaner's storage tank. In the Micell system, the Liquid CO2 can be purchased where desired. The unperfumed detergent(s) are added separately into the wash wheel,where they are homogenized into solution in the CO2. This gives the dry cleanerthe option of regulating the amount of detergent used.
According to Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Chairman and Co-founder of Micell Technologies and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of North Carolina, his machine incorporates a rotating drum which tumbles the garments. Dr.DeSimone believes that such agitation is critical, since there is a constant exchange between the vapor and liquid CO2, which facilitates better soil removal. Hefurther believes that a machine built around tumbling action, allows for increasing the size of the washing drum, if desired. According to Dr Julius Lakritz,Director of Technologies for Global Technologies, the DryWash machine has no tumbler. The clothes are moved rapidly as nozzles emit pressurized jets of liquid DryWash fluid. These jets alternately flex and relax the clothes which as Dr. Lakritz points out, shakes dirt loose from the fibers. Interestingly enough, the DryWash technology has been licensed to several equipment manufacturers, at least one of which is has decided to use a rotating basket similar to Micell. These are some of my first impressions from Clean'99. I will be covering other concepts in future articles. Readers are invited to submit questions concerning the technology exhibited at the show.
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