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Many Happy Returns

Investment in sustainable technology pays dividends in higher throughput, cost savings for BOC

BOC – a member of the Linde Group, and an industrial, medical and special gases provider in the United Kingdom – receives used oxygen cylinders for cleaning. It's imperative that they remove existing residue from valves to decrease contamination. And it's also critical the company satisfies the four elements of BOC's safety, health, environmental and quality agenda.

To satisfy these requirements, BOC invested in a new gas-cylinder value-cleaning solution that not only addresses health and safety concerns but also reduces annual cleaning costs by as much as 60 percent. In this new process, trichloroethylene (TCE) has been replaced by a bath system that has less impact on the environment, provides a wider margin of safety for workers and lowers life cycle costs. The new automated cleaning process utilizes 3M™ Novec™ 71DE Engineered Fluid with an ultrasonic vapor cleaning unit to remove existing valve residue.

Wayne Drew, BOC maintenance foreman, states, "The new process improves safety all around – for employees and the environment. In addition, while cost was not the primary driver for change, BOC has accrued significant savings since making the switch. As well as reducing vapor loss, it consumes a lot less energy and, in the first nine months of operation, used just over 30 kg of Novec 71DE fluid compared to an estimated 300 kg of TCE. It is also operationally efficient. The equipment requires less cooling time which, in turn enables faster throughput."

Novec fluids offer safe, sustainable chemistry designed to balance performance with favorable environmental and worker safety properties. They are nonflammable and have good materials compatibility, low toxicity, low global warming potential, zero ozone depletion potential and are not a hazardous air pollutant.

Adoption of the Novec fluid not only helped BOC accrue significant savings, but also provided a wider margin of safety for the workers and reduced their footprint on the environment. Additionally, the energy savings BOC saw were significant. Drew concludes, "The automated cleaning process using Novec 71DE fluid is now classed as best practice for BOC UK and Ireland and The Linde Group around the world."

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