Case Studies: Ecolink is Hard at Work in the Aerospace Industry

Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul
Removal of adhesives, decals and corrosion inhibiting compounds with VG-151

Problem – Today, mechanics throughout the aerospace industry have to make significant
adjustments in their work practices to accommodate EPA requirements for
solvents. Aggressive products with quick evaporation such as 1,1,1 trichloroethane,
MEK or methylene chloride made the cleaning portion of the OEM mechanics
job relatively easy. Unfortunately, many environmentally preferred replacement
solvents exhibit low vapor pressure, i.e. slow evaporation and less aggressive
cleaning.

Solution – VG-151, a unique solvent/degreaser
from Ecolink, sprays like a liquid but turns into a gel when coming in
contact with the area to be cleaned . This unique feature allows it to
be used on vertical and horizontal surfaces and allows for significantly
increased dwell time. Further, the use of VG-151 means that mechanics
don’t create a dangerous workplace because the material doesn’t end up
on the floor area. VG-151 is water-soluble, particularly important in
a wash rack application, because it can be easily removed with pressurized
water. In an interior hangar environment, VG-151 can be simply removed
with a phenolic scraper.

Additional Product Benefits – In addition
to target soils such as adhesives, decals and corrosion inhibitors, VG-151
has been found to be highly effective on virtually any stubborn organic
soil. Cost savings are realized due to its gelatinous properties. Mechanics
use much less material because it doesn’t spill off the part or area being
cleaned.

AircraftMaintenance, Repair and Overhaul
Cleaning of electro-mechanical and hydraulic apparatus

Problem – Until the mid 1990s, the air transport industry traditionally relied on 1,1,1 trichloroethane
for electro-mechanical and hydraulic repairs and overhauls due to its
unique properties. 1. It has no flashpoint, 2. It can be safely used on
operating electrical equipment, and 3. It was possible for mechanics to
“liquid sand blast” the parts they were cleaning and be left with a clean,
dry area. The EPA production ban and phase out of these ozone-depleting chemicals left mechanics
with a serious void.

Solution – Ecolink developed POSITRON,
an ultra high purity dielectric solvent that is safe to use on all electro-mechanical
and hydraulic apparatus. Originally tested by engineers at Westinghouse
and the Department of Defense, it is now in use by several major air carriers
and other MRO facilities for non-aqueous cleaning and degreasing. Recognizing
the need for user education with this new type of solvent, Ecolink provides
on-site training for this and any of our products to qualified customers.

Hand Wipe Cleaning Applications
Replacement of 1,1,1 trichloroethane in solid rocket motor manufacturing

Problem – The manufacturer of solid rocket motors for the Titan,
Delta, Trident and Pegasus missiles used large quantities of 1,1,1 trichloroethane
for hand wipe cleaning at various stages of manufacture. A wide range
of applications and substrates specified this ozone depleting solvent
via manufacturers’ specifications and technical orders.

The manufacturer needed to locate, test and
select a group of alternative products. Final approval would be required
from a wide range of organizations, including US Air Force, US Navy, Thiokol,
McDonnell Douglas Space Systems, Orbital Sciences and Lockheed Martin.

Specific applications included: Case Winding,
Case Machining, Hydroproof Testing, Case Preparation, Liner Application,
Cork Application, Mandrel Assembly and Preparation, Mix/Case Propellant
Bowl Cleaning, Rocket Motor Assembly and Tool Cleanup.

Solution – QED Solvent was selected
as the solvent of choice for the majority of the 1,1,1 trichloroethane
applications. This conclusion was based on more than two years of research
and an expenditure of almost $8 million. The program also developed procedural
changes to help in the transition.

To date, QED is successfully being used in
this major missile program and has also been incorporated by other aerospace
companies for similar applications.

FlightLine Operations
Replacementof 1,1,1 trichloroethane

Problem – Aircraft maintenance and flight line repair poses unique
problems for airlines. Flight schedules demand rapid turnarounds, mechanics
must often respond to immediate problems under adverse conditions, including
inclement weather, outdoor repairs and hot surfaces. Maintenance includes
checking for leaks (fuel, oil, hydraulic) in the engine, landing gear,
hydraulic systems and other electro-mechanical systems. 1,1,1 trichloroethane
was an ideal solvent due to its rapid evaporation and no flashpoint. With
electrical equipment often energized, safety from flashpoint ignition
is critical.

Solution – TRIAGEN metal cleaner and
degreaser is rated at a high vapor pressure with no flash point —
very similar characteristics to 1,1,1 trichloroethane. These similarities
result in highly favorable acceptance by aircraft mechanics and technicians.
Most importantly, TRIAGEN typically offers a seamless transition to new
solvent procedures.
AdhesiveRemoval
Opticallens manufacturing for the aerospace industry

Problem – This manufacturer has used MEK for a number of years to remove a tar
like adhesive from optical glass. This adhesive is applied to optical
glass during lens manufacture. MEK is no longer NESHAPS compliant and
the customer needed to find an effective alternative.

Solution – Ecolink recommended VORTEX,
a distilled and purified d-limonene citrus terpene solvent which is effective
on a wide range of organic soils. Ecolink also specified two parts washers
for cleaning and agitation in the VORTEX solvent. After 15 minutes the
soil is completely removed from the glass. The lenses are given a final
rinse in isopropanol which removes any unevaporated VORTEX and leaves
a clean, dry surface.

VORTEX can be used as a true solvent or as
water rinseable cleaner by adding a small amount of surfactant.

PaintGun Cleanup
Replacementof methylene chloride in aerospace coating applications

Problem – The Aerospace Industry has traditionally
relied on methylene chloride or lacquer thinner to remove uncured coatings
from paint guns and other coating application equipment. Methylene chloride
is listed as a hazardous air pollutant (HAP). Its use is closely monitored
and discouraged.

Solution – Ecolink provided SAFE STRIP, an
n-methyle pyrilidone based solvent with a very high flashpoint (198F)
and a low vapor pressure. None of its components are listed as HAPs, plus
it exhibits excellent loading capabilities. Further, it is water rinseable,
for easy use and clean-up.

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