WEBINAR: 3M Novec Replacements -- Latest News & Best Available Options - Banner

WEBINAR: 3M Novec Replacements -- Latest News & Best Available Options





Kevin Pawlowski:

Well welcome to our latest and greatest webinar with the Techspray here. And today we're going to be covering pretty much our third in a series of the 3M Novec replacements. And today we're going to be talking about the latest news because it is evolving, it is kind of a fluid situation and what we consider the best available options at this point.

Okay, so quick introductions first, who am I? I'm the moderator, Kevin Pawlowski. If you've been through our webinars before, I'm probably pretty familiar and you've probably gotten 5 million emails from me, marketing communication manager over at ITW Techspray.

And with us we have Dr. Saroj Yadav, marketing director with ITW, formerly product technology director and her contact information is right there. Saroj is over the marketing for Techspray and Chemtronics. So she's going to cover from the marketing perspective from what's going on in the marketplace.

And then we've got Paul Blair, product technology director, formerly marketing director, and formerly a number of other things. And Paul will be covering it from the technology side, from the chemistry side, but really either one are certainly well versed to cover it from the chemistry side.

So on the agenda today, we're going to introduce you guys to Techspray in general, we're going to give you an update on the Novec discontinuation, the options for the replacements, how to future-proof your process, if that's something you need to do. And we'll talk about what we mean by future-proof, looking at more of the long term. And then along with future proving, what's really driving that is the regulatory trade-offs of doing that, the ever evolving regulatory landscape. We're going to talk through that a bit to some manner of depth, not as deep as we could go, of course.


About Techspray

Okay, so let me cover really quick now, who are we? Who is Techspray? Okay, Techspray. We're a brand of cleaners and coatings and some other materials from ITW, Illinois Tool Works. That's a conglomerate in Illinois, in Chicago, Illinois. Also, we have a sister brand, Chemtronics. So everybody on this call handles both Techspray and Chemtronics. So if you do have a question on a Chemtronics product, we certainly can answer that as well. Our focus today is mostly on Techspray because with the Novec replacements, most of those replacements are in the Techspray line, not the Chemtronics line, although there's a few exceptions.

Techspray started in 1968. So we've been really focused on the industry for a long time and that's something I just want to stress that our experience at this, it goes deep and so give you a little history is there is stuff called Freon CFC-113a, great stuff. You could use it in a vapor degreaser, so you could use it in an aerosol, you could clean your tie with it and you could do dry cleaning and use it as a duster. Problem is that it punched a hole in the ozone. We didn't like that. So moved to HCFC-141b, that also affected the ozone. And then AK225 was the next one and that's gone. All of this is fairly similar, has some parallels with what we're dealing with today. And the reason I bring that up is we do have the experience to help you through that process. And not only do we have the experience on the chemistry side, but from the application side. So that's something we can add to the mix.

If you're currently buying from 3M or maybe through an intermediary, but a 3M material, if you had a technical question, you call 3M, you're going to have a tough time getting help. Where you call us, we have a lab, Paul runs that lab, where not only can we answer your questions, but we can also do some in-house testing and help you solve your issue, whatever issues you're having or help you through the qualification process. So I just make sure want to add that. What we do is we blend. So we'll take chemicals from different sources, put them together with what works in a given application and given requirement, that's what we do. So we develop proprietary blends from existing chemistries like maybe from 3M, maybe from Chemours or all these different products we put together to the best solution. It requires that we have a deep understanding of what you do, and so that's a value we add as a company. Paul.


Full Service Product Development & Qualification Lab

Paul Blair:

Yeah, so as Kevin mentioned, we have a full service lab here for growth product development and qualification. And then also we run our factory QC through here as well. We can do small batch prototyping and have basic, helpful, I should say, analytical equipment. Very useful. We can cover most things. For this type of application, for this discussion, we generally focus on three things, cleanliness, effectiveness. So we would want to get some parts with contamination from a customer's line. We could run through our process with our chemistries to find how well it works and if it works. Screen for the best product. We have a variety of products so we can sure we can find one that works. We also test material compatibility.

And then once we find something that works, we can also do kind of a process optimization and process recommendations to how best to use their equipment and our stuff. It gives our customers an opportunity to test things before they actually go on their equipment. We have a vapor degreaser ultrasonic. We also have access to inline batch cleaning system for water base as well. We try to do our best to mock-up and support our customer's lines.


3M is Discontinuing Novec Solvents

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

So now at this point of time everybody is aware of 3M discontinuing their Novec Solvent, everybody read the letter. I'm sure whoever is your purchasing department has ingrained this letter forever for the supply chain disruption from 3M. This letter was sent in December 2022 and according to this, they are coming out of any PFAS manufacturing by end of 2025. That means that our PFAS, which are Novec engineered product, straight 7100, 7200 and 7300 and lot of blended and bulk chemistry in terms of blended products are also part of this discontinuation list. Without going deep into the reasoning why they took this huge stand, they mentioned that regulatory pressure was building up to come out of these PFAS manufacturing by end of 2025.


Update on 3M & Force Majeure

They have discouraged the stockpiling of the material by end user or by distributors. So recently they actually announced a force mature and they send it out these letters in October stating that they are stopping the PFAS manufacturing in their Belgium facility, which was because of the regulatory issues, further regulatory issues into the Belgium facility. And they don't know if even they can actually produce any further PFAS into that facility. So it's more and more pressure on the supply chain from them.

And then even if they don't even know if the POs, open POs or your future orders can be fulfilled by 3M. This means that force mature actually can make them come out of any contract they may have with their end user such as defense, aerospace or medical industry. And it can give them a lawful reason not to fulfill or honor any supply contract and they cannot even hold the price agreement for their next shipment if they can fulfill it. So if you haven't done any changes to your process or your application after receiving the initial letter from 3M for discontinuation by 2025, this is your last chance or a key indication that you should be proactively looking for a solution or working on another supply or secondary source going forward.


Securing Your Supply Chain

Securing a supply chain for your process is a key time period for right now. And there are a couple of ways you can do this by finding a new supplier for exact chemical equivalent or while you are working on finding the chemical equivalent supplier, you can also work with the new chemistry or future-proof your application by qualifying the new replacement chemistry for the process. So this means that people like us, Chemtronics and Techspray can help you navigate through the process and in further slides, we are going to give you all the option you can work with depending on your application to choose what type of option it can fit into your process or application going forward.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Yeah, and let me just add, just to put a fine point on this is, so force majeure is basically 3M is taking control of the reins of the supply chain when needed. Put this in perspective, if you're a medical equipment assembler and you have it specked in FDA approved where you have to use Novec's 7100 and you can't get it, then your line is down. If you don't have a secondary source, another source for that material. So say your qualification at best is three or four months. FDA approval certainly would be out 18 months or something like that, 24 months. So just to put a sense of urgency here that yes, end of 2025 is the phase out. But if you're counting on this as a part of your supply chain where it can be a line down situation if you can't get it, we really suggest we start that conversation and as we're going to talk about either one of these scenarios, we can be an important part of that and work with you to get through this situation.


What Are Novec Solvents?

Paul Blair:

So we can quickly start with some of the basics here. What are the Novec solvents? There's solvents for a variety of purposes. The three right off the bat for me is precision cleaning, thermal management, and then also as a carrier solvent. Most of what we're going to talk about here today is going to be about the vapor degreasing. The solvents from a chemical perspective are HFEs, hydrofluoroethers. Got a little illustration of the next slide, but for vapor degreasing, they are either a neat pure solvent or they are atropic blends. And what that means is the vapor above the boil sump and the material in the boil sump are the same composition, it doesn't change. This gives security over time and safety over time.

Azeotropes are very important and when you find one, they're very valuable. Used in a wide variety of applications, maybe some low tech, most high-tech. Of course the most critical applications are expensive products for medical device manufacturing, aerospace, aviation MRO, oxygen system servicing. These are very critical cleaning applications. Require high purity, high degree of safety, and also a high degree of flammability and purity.

Now the neat solvents, the 7100, 7200, 7300, they're really more for rinsing and for maybe thermal management. And the reason being is their solvency is really quite weak. The actual solvents themselves are quite weak, but they have other virtues we'll talk about a little bit later. But if you blend them with more aggressive cleaning solvents like trans, and/or alcohols, they do a great job to quench the flammability. And then also improve the current regulatory compliance by reducing the VOC because they're exempt. Whereas trans and alcohols are both considered VOCs, but the trans and the alcohol are doing the majority of the cleaning. And then the Novec's are there to, and the HFEs I should say, are there to suppress flammability, lower surface tension, do a few other things. The last bullet point there is a carrier solve for lubricants for fluorinated and some siliconized lubricants for applying lubrication to usually invasive type medical devices, catheters and needles and so on. But it's a great non-flammable way to process and apply these chemistries that are actually very hard to dissolve in other solvents.


What Are PFAS?

So what is a PFAS? I mentioned that Novecs are all HFEs and PFAS polyfluoro. I'm sure everyone's heard of this polyfluoro or perfluoroalkyl substances. The news media have caught onto the PFAS forever chemicals. Every time I see an article in the media, I always look and say, well which one is it? Which one is it? What kind of PFAS is it? And they seldom do that. They don't want to get into the weeds and get into the chemicals, but it really matters. Definitions really matter for the PFAS. Different regulatory bodies have different definitions. We have the UN and the OECD, we have ECA in Europe and to TSCA and EPA here in the US. Certainly even some states, like California and Maine are coming up with their own and they're all slightly different. Some are the same, some commonalities, some more complicated, some more simple. But they all kind of get around the kind of the structures I see on the right side. You're looking for a CF2, a methylene, a fully fluorinated methylene or a CF3, a fully fluorinated fluoro and combinations of them.

Poly means more fluoro and perfluoro means all the hydrogens are replaced with fluorine. So this gives an idea of where they are, but they are different and not all of them are forever chemicals and not all of them are harmful. So kind of run down the structures are on the right. The first one is an HFE, as a matter of fact that's one of the Novec molecules. It's a hydrofluoroether, that oxygen makes it an ether. It has a global warming of 300 or around 300, I think it's 297. A little high, but it's quite a bit more environmentally favorable and lower global warming than the second one. An HFC, that's [inaudible 00:21:05] that next one, which is a hydrofluorocarbon. As you can see, there's no oxygen and really nothing more than carbons and fluorines there, which makes it less susceptible to breakdown in the environment.

It's global warming potential I should say is more than five times higher than the Novec product. So structure matters. And then you look at the third one that is certainly not a forever chemical, that's a HFO, hydrofluoroolefins. And you can see in that one has a double bond in it and that double bond gives something for the environment to really take it apart and it has a global warming potential of just one. So you have the top one somewhere in the middle, around 300, the next one around 1,600, and then the one on the bottom is as low as it really can be one or less.

So it really matters how things perform in the environment, even though these are all actual PFAS. But this opens it up for those of us who are formulators to say, okay, how can we get the good benefits of fluorinated chemistries without the detriment to the environment, without the detriment for toxicity and so on. The future is actually getting much brighter in terms of new chemistries that we can do. All of these to some degree suppress flammability. All of them have very low surface tension, which causes the solvent, the cleaning solvents to spread and penetrate and get into crevices and clean up. The high density also helps them be good cleaners and for vapor degreasing, it helps move away from other toxic solvents like N-Propyl Bromide and trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.

Now the forever chemicals in the PFAS that have gotten the bad wrap that are dangerous, that's the one on the bottom. You can see PFOA and if some of those articles actually say what the most dangerous and most targeted PFAS are, this is what we're talking about. Or fluoroethanoic acid, sulfonic acids, things like that. These have all of the downsides of PFAS. They're bioaccumulative, they're persistent, they're mobile and they're toxic and they truly are forever chemicals. They last for a very long time. You see, it's a big molecule, it's a carbonate molecule. So these are all PFAS, but all very different.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Hey, Paul, I got a question. So that last one, is anyone doing... Is that what we're talking about? Is there any cleaning being done with that particular product, what's that used in?

Paul Blair:

Its function is mainly as a surfactant. So at some point in time it might've been used for cleaning. It's nothing that's in any of our cleaning chemistries at all. Hasn't been there or has been.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Yeah. So I think again, to put a little bit of a fine point on this is we've got some products, for example, the top one is really the Novec material. It's far from the worst of the bunch and it's not currently being specifically targeted, is it?

Paul Blair:


Kevin Pawlowski:

So just to put that in perspective of the gut feel is, "Oh, we need to get away from PFAS right now," and there isn't any regulatory driver for this. The driver is 3M is having environmental issues with some of their plants. They want to exit the category, but it's not regulatory bodies saying they have to exit the category or that you have to exit the category.

Paul Blair:

Yeah, at this point and I think Saroj will probably get into the more regulations a little later, but there are a couple of things going on. Certainly from a corporate citizenship, there's a lot of companies that are self-regulating and want to get away from the high global warmers. And then there are issues with some of the jurisdictions trying to ban these things and they're treated differently here versus in Europe. And so for, are they immediately on the hit list? No. Should we be looking at new things? Yeah, probably. And we certainly are and we're qualifying new molecules all the time.

So yeah, I mean when we talk about sustainability, secure supply chain, we talked about, well, there's going to be kind of a whipsaw effect in the marketplace with the supply chain from Novec and PFAS. Sometimes they're going to be available, sometimes they aren't. Sometimes it's going to be too much, sometimes going to be too little. It's going to be hard to wind this down. And then there's the environmental sustainability, and then there's also different kind geopolitical forces that are worth pouring about as well.

Kevin Pawlowski:

So the urgent thing is first and foremost, get your supply chain locked up in terms of if you're using 3M Novec, find a replacement, whether it's PFAS or whether it's equivalent or not. That depends on what's required, but longer term would be possibly exiting some of that.

Paul Blair:

Sure, longer term should be just seeking your adequate or better performance. And we'll get more to this with some of the options, but with a more environmentally sustainable, less target, less susceptible chemistry.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Gotcha. I've got a couple good questions here. Barbara's asking are regulatory agencies or states distinguishing between good and bad PFAS?

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

Currently, they are not, but we've seen the major regulation from Maine and Minnesota that's more stringent and more robust than any other states. The mix of stuff has been coming up from other states learning from these PFAS every day, from what type of application they've been used or is there any alternates actually available for these PFAS? So they're trying to gather as much as a database for state wise and then trying to restrict the use in majority of the cases which we have seen in commercial type of products, not industrial or manufacturing or professional use.

Kevin Pawlowski:

So what we're talking about the scope of we're talking about are we just mainly at more of a reporting phase and a restriction phase with the regulatory body?

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

For EPA as a federal agency, yes. We got these two ruling recently that they're asking to report all the PFAS they have used from 2011 till '22. That any PFAS they have used or import or used in any type of product composition or any kind of concentration to report that out by, in 2025, I believe, to give that data to EPA.


Options for Novec Users

Paul Blair:

Yeah, so we offer a three tiered approach. Most of the other companies in this business are not necessarily offering quite as much options. The first one is a chemical equivalent replacement. This keeps operations running, reduce the qualification burden. This is basically trying to reduce the qualification burden to qualifying a new supplier, not qualifying a new process or not qualifying a new chemistry. So if the qualification process is very lengthy, very burdensome, if the expectation is that a qualification process will extend even beyond the termination of Novec availability, this is an option for those kind of customers. Or if they don't want to make just one change now and maybe want to run out of process or make major changes later on, this provides the time for customers to do that. Or again, I mean right now there's no specific regulatory requirements demanding that this change be made. It's really more a supply.

So this is again, reduce the amount of burden. You can focus on qualifying a new supplier, not qualifying new chemistry. The next option is qualifying a new chemistry. And this provides a little bit, this is a longer term solution. In some cases it can be an indefinitely long solution, but we can look at it as kind of presenting it here as intermediate. But some of these solutions within this can go on for quite a while. This gives customers opportunities to maybe improve performance, cleaning strength. In some of the products it gives an opportunity to lower cost and others to produce something more environmentally sustainable. To actually look at some of those other chemistries that I referred to earlier to have a lower global warming potential and lower toxicity and lower exposure and everything else, that we see as being very sustainable for 10 years or more. That's our expectation. No guarantees of course going that far out, but this is where we pointing towards.

Customers who want to go through the change process now, but don't ever want to go through it again. This is where we're guiding them to. And it's also a more secure supply chain. Almost every fluorinated solvent that I'm aware of is produced offshore, be it Japan, China, India. But we've supplied manufacturing here in the US and not just compounding like so many other companies that are importing chemistries and compounding them here and calling them made in the US. This is actually a full a hundred percent US made product. So all the geopolitical issues, if anyone on here is part of the supply chain, they'll remember how hard it was to get things during the pandemic. This is a burden that we can alleviate with some of the new chemistries that are coming out.

And then the third option is getting away from PFAS altogether. And this would require... Well, let me finish one thing about the qualifying new chemistry. This would all be in current equipment. So again, not minimal, little or no capital investment. The last one, changing chemistries would require bigger changes, process changes, capital equipment, new chemistries, whether it be waterborne or waterborne chemistries or different types of vapor degreasing like a vacuum vapor degreaser and so on. This is higher risk, higher investment, longer term and also a much longer, bigger investment. It's higher risk.


Direct Drop-in Replacements

So the first one, like I said, direct drop-in replacements, almost everyone in the industry right now is calling their replacements drop in. This is truly a drop in. This is truly a chemical equivalent to again, reduce that burden and make it more of a qualifying a new supplier as opposed to qualifying new chemistry. These are direct replacements for all the Novecs and we would be happy to supply analytical test data demonstrating how close these things are to the Novec. Well, I mean essentially they are the same molecules. GC, which we have right there is the quickest way to do it and most efficient, thorough analytical tool we have that we use to check quality and also demonstrate the similarity.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Yeah. I've got a question along this point is, so have we found alternative producers for Novec chemicals? And let me just split this apart a little bit because a little history lesson. I mean 3M comes up with a molecule, they patent a molecule, it's proprietary material, and they trademark Novec. Novec 7100, 7200, whatever it is, those patents have run out. So the same molecule can be produced by other suppliers. We can't call it Novec, Novec is a trademark of 3M.

To answer that question, yes, and that's what we're talking about here. We have other suppliers for that same material that used to be produced by 3M exclusively. It no longer has to be produced exclusively by them. So can you think of it as sort of I am buying it acetone not from supplier X, but instead supplier Y? You possibly could, but with your qualification process of the supplier and of the material coming in. So it's just another way to look at it. So when you're moving away from it's not going to be Novec, but it's going to be the same material. So keeping in mind, Novec is the trade name.

Paul Blair:

Places where this fit, like I said, long qualification process or very sensitive substrates. Again carrier solvents for applying other chemistries where the substrate has a particular sensitivity to solvents. This is a way to get around that or to mitigate those kind of risks or concerns.


Case Study: Medical Implant Machining

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

So it's always good to see with the case studies that how we helped our end users in these options. So as Paul mentioned that we do have a chemical equivalent of the 7100, 7200 and 7300. In this case we were working with this medical implant machining end user and they were using a straight HFE 7100 as a rinsing reagent in their ultrasonic equipment to remove any metal particulates or cutting fluid at the end of the process. So part of the reason that they were using this Novec engineering solution because of the sensitive equipment these medical implant machining is using. And then laborious, risky and cumbersome process of your FDA validation process, which takes forever.

So they were looking exactly chemical equivalent and just because we do have our Precision-V 37 10 as a chemical equivalent, which Paul already showed the GC spectra in previous slide and they were very quickly approved our product as a secondary source that whatever we actually provided with the documentation wise, it's like TDS, COA and gas chromatography analysis. And we also provided the sample for them to make the decision if that's working on their process or not. So that's very positive outcome for having that chemical replacement from a Techspray side of... As a process approval for as a secondary source. It's not just we are giving them just some sample requirement for their chemical equipment, we are also working with them for their long-term solution as these are medical device manufacturing end users. So their validation process is long. So right now having to have that secondary supply source secured, make them work on the longer term solution working with partner like us.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Thanks Saroj. I've got a couple of questions. Are you making a replacement contact cleaner? And I can cover that one pretty straightforward. Generally speaking, we're blending the direct replacements, the chemical equivalence as we're calling them. So the same basic chemistry for the critical applications. Generally speaking, contact cleaning in an aerosol can isn't like class two, class three type of cleaning. Our focus on those will be in the next category. Where we come up with drop-in... Replacements are different chemistry, but you can use the same process. That's generally our approach for contact cleaning and we've got a lot of options for contact cleaning and it's a little more straightforward. Now of course if we're working with you in our lab and it is just you've got a plastic that everything attacks, we could certainly do a direct blend that will match what you're using. But we're not currently bringing something that to market just because it doesn't seem necessary because it's basically really a pretty weak cleaning contact cleaner, doesn't add much to what we're already have in our product line. So that's on the contact cleaning side.

Now Ed, the rocket scientist has been... Barbara, the cleaning lady mentions a new chemical working with the same equipment may still require updates to the equipment for example seals and the process, different temperatures. So that's a real good point is the next group. So the ones we were talking about, we just talked about. Those, you don't have to change a thing because it's a chemical equivalent, it's the same stuff. It's going to boil at the same temperature, it's not going to have any different effect on your seals. We move to the next group. At that point yeah, you got to look at your boil temperatures and the impact of those different changes and potentially compatibility with seals and things of that nature. So we'll cover that as more relevant to the next topic of discussion.


Qualify New Chemistry

Paul Blair:

So qualifying new chemistry, a lot of this already mentioned a little bit earlier, but the goal is to really continue with current equipment. In this stage the qualification process is a little more burdensome, but capital expense is minimized, environmental impact can be actually be improved, costs can actually be improved and then also the supply chain can actually be improved. So this opens up the possibilities for more work, I mean for other benefits. And then again, this is to minimal burden with maximum benefit is what we want to offer with this next group of chemistries.

Again, compatibility as we just pointed out, we are certainly always happy to check compatibility with materials. In our lab we can do the major screening before you take it online or before customers start to invest a lot of their time and a lot of their technical and engineering time and we could bring them into our labs and then always provide samples at whatever level on an ongoing basis. I know usually when I'm formulating the first sample I get from a supplier isn't the last one I beg because the chemistries go on from one thing to another. But again, this is, like I said, it's about maximum benefit with minimum burden.


Techspray Optimized Novec Replacements

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

Let's talk about these alternate chemistry. We do have quite a few option for you to choose depending on your application you are currently dealing with. This is the chart to better understand some of the critical parameter to choose for a particular application. As you see Precision-V is our trademark and PWR-4 as well. So Precision-V trade name is for safer solvent application. It's a safer on sensitive plastic, wherever you have a sensitive component on your product line or equipment, that's where you can choose the Precision-V. And in that category we do have 3810 and 3820 as a part number. 3810 is a engineered product that can also be used as a thermal management or cooling application.

So on our more aggressive nature of chemistry that comes under our PWR-4 trade name. And there also we have two different options, 3410 and 3910. And all of these chemistry, either it's Precision-V or PWR-4, all of them are non-flammable, so can be used in the vapor degreaser safely and they are very low global warming potential. However, I do want to specify that one of our product, PWR-4 3910 is extremely, extremely low global warming potential, which is around 2.7. So it's really come to how HFOs some of the HFOs are for that type of chemistry. So highly environmental friendly. And one other advantage this 3910 is that it's manufactured and produced a hundred percent in US. So having this domestic supply chain where some of the customer who are military defense or government contracts, who are more relied on these domestically sourced product than 3910 would be a best option for as application wise.

And please reach out to us to get any further information on any of these product or if you have any question, these are not the only limited chemistry we have in our portfolio. We do have other solution as well in this option two category. And we can help you resolve whatever the situation you may have with using your current process or equipment. And our R&D is always looking for new chemistry, which Paul suggested that we are always looking for new samples and blended product to comply with the regulatory and having to have environmentally friendly products in our portfolio.

Kevin Pawlowski:

And also just let me explain something to segment this a little further. So if you look at precision B, if you're doing assemblies that have plastics, rubber seals, gasketing, things of that nature, Precision-V is going to be a good path to go to of our trade names here. If you're doing metal cleaning, so machining, cleaning tap oils and filings and things of that nature, PWR-4. Now with PWR-4s, it's going to be more aggressive than you're used to if you're using the Novec cleaning cleaners, but it's going to be a lot cheaper and it's going to be a much stronger cleaner and you don't have to worry about plastics anyway when you're doing metal cleaning.

Now a common question we have is are these compatible with metal, any problem with that? That's not generally an issue with solvents, you get into those kind of issues with water-based chemistries. With solvents, you're really taking a close look at plastics, gaskets, rubber seals and things of that nature. So the more sensitive it is, generally it's going to increase the price and it's probably going to decrease the solvency, the cleaning strength. So there's some definite trade-offs there.


Avoid The “Toxic 4”

Paul Blair:

Our PWR-4 and Precision-V Novec replacements aren't just for replacing that's going away in the marketplace. They're also replacing some very toxic chemicals that are still very widely used in the industry, which I find rather surprising. Things like N-Propyl Bromide, trichlorethylene, perc, methylene chloride, these are all wonderfully strong cleaners and relatively low cost of purchase, but they're very toxic. So the cost and use comes farther down the line, in terms of danger and exposure to workers and to customers and to neighbors of factories into the environment. So if anyone is using an N-Propyl Bromide, TCE or perc or methane chloride, we would love to talk to you about trying to offer something much safer.

And these are also really are going to go away. The EPA has these on their target list and I think they might even have sunset dates on these things. So these are things that we can help the customer transition to very quickly. Generally these are often not especially critical, but we can help transition them to something much safer and we kind of overuse this word much more sustainable in both supply and regulation and environmental going forward. But this is something we'd like to work on. If anybody out there has already heard one of our presentations before on solvents, we've been trying to get rid of that the toxic... We started with the nasty three or the toxic three and some more have been added to it. So now we're up the toxic four. But this is something that's near and dear to our hearts to produce much safer chemistries.


Case Study: Aviation MRO

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

So yeah, let's talk about another case study which we did with our aviation customer and they were using 72 DEA in their joint vapor degreaser for cleaning landing gear. Their first approach was to find the similar exactly chemical equivalent chemistry, and then work through the process in the meantime for qualifying new chemistry for longer term as we mentioned in option two. So as we have our chemical equivalent for 72DA under Precision-V 372DA, that process went very smooth. We provided sample for this aviation customer and their requirement was to analyze the samples in-house, so we did that in our lab. And then at the same time we did provide general TDS and COA and full disclosure SDSs as well and gas chromatograph, which is a part of full qualification for some of these end user to make sure that whatever they're getting, they're getting exactly the same material to use.

So that was actually the process wise was not tedious or lengthy as compared to the medical device company. So they took a month to have us approved as a secondary source. However, they did work with us for the alternate chemistry as well and we did some analysis with the Precision-V 3410 to help come up to reduce their current cost and as well as increase their overall cleaning efficiency for a longer term and just to help them to save some dollars and use the same kind of equipment for their processes.


Paul Blair:

And I would also add to what Saroj said, we also engaged in third party testing to qualify for Boeing. So these have either Boeing D6 or Boeing BSS7432 as well as Airbus qualifications as well. So for metals going into aerospace, we gauge third party independent tests to verify that for us. That's all part of it. So I want to talk a little more, probably buzz through this fairly quickly because it's kind of a lengthy thing, but to really future-proof your cleaning processes there are new chemistries coming on board all the time that we're looking at. I have the desk here in my office has about 20 different bottles of different chemistries that we want to get into analysis and into testing here over the next several weeks, but it's going to cause a little bit more of a qualification process. So it really gives you an opportunity to start from the bottom up.


Future-Proofing Your Cleaning Process

So how clean does a product have to be? What are the regulatory compliance now and going forward in the future? And to look ahead for some of these things to really future-proof the business. There is definitely a trend towards more environmentally favorable products and that's really twofold because the producers of the chemistries are coming out with better chemistries and there is more of a demand in the marketplace, both from a regulatory perspective and from corporate citizenship and corporate governance and self-regulation as well. And there's fewer and fewer trade-offs. In our second tier of chemistries, the trade-offs have been reduced by the benefits that we bring on with the other chemistries. And as we move forward on the chemical side, of course you're talking to the formulator R and D guys, so I'm always optimistic about what the new products can do, but you can build a process around acceptable cleaning.

The downside is that the qualification process will be a bit longer. Investment is probably going to be higher, as well as risk to make these changes. So it's something that shouldn't be entered into lightly, but there certainly could be greater benefits down the line.


PFAS-Free Solvent Options

The chemistries are somewhat conventional, PFAS free solvents that are available or hydrocarbons and D-limonene and alcohols and glycol ethers. And if we want to get into biodegradable bio-based solvents, these are all possible options. However, they don't work in current vapor degreasing systems. This would require investment in say a vacuum vapor degreaser and we're only really getting started in the industry to have a full knowledge of vacuum vapor degreasing. It's an established chemistry and technology, don't get me wrong, but as more and more people or as gets applied to different areas, I think we'll find more and different demands on these type of things. So again, that's risk for a lot of companies to do that, but we certainly have a wide variety of chemistries that we can pull off the shelf here we can pull out of our formulary as well.


Challenges of PFAS-Free Solvents

Paul Blair:

Some of the challenge of the PFAS free, like I said the PFAS themselves aren't very strong chemistry, but when blended with strong cleaners, they have very, very high solvency, very strong cleaners. Switching to others is going to change that, is going to change the chemistry and cleaning efficiency and solvency. Compatibility odor, for sure. Flammability for very sure. It is only with currently with toxic chlorinated chemistries or non-toxic fluorinated chemistries that you can really quench flammability and get non-flammable products or the major switch to water at this point. So really the only two safe options are fluorinated and water for non flammability. And then regulatory compliance is another issue. Even the PFAS's that we have right now will reduce the number of VOCs. So if we switch back to a solvent, that opens up the issues to HAPs and to VOC and to various other kind of issues that come up, which is the lead into the next slide.


Regulatory Pressures

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

So I know we've talked in length about those nasty four chemicals. As Paul mentioned, that nPB, TCE, perc, and methylene chloride has been part of the regulatory stress for years and they could be phased out in a near future. So choosing them as a option would be a huge step backward for anything for your process wise. Another things you have to take into account is the VOC and the VOC is always regulated by state to state and are industry specific. California is always the leader in coming up with any type of regulatory changes and other states follow suit. The catch is that there are some trade trade-offs that are associated with these regs. Lower the VOC are some of the higher global warmers. So when you talk about these trade-offs, each regs cannot be looked into an isolation. So I mean VOC in California made it pretty challenging to use any of the higher VOC product, especially when other states trying to regulate as well after California has done their own regulations.

The global warmers are like, especially the higher global warmers are also under regulatory pressure and there are not hard restriction, but there are pressure from state to state and country to country on GWP. The basic mantra is lower is better for the GWP and the restriction are coming up basically for higher global warmers. For example, Vertrel XF, which is part of these PFAS as well. This product  is a good quencher for flammability and has been used for vapor decreasing for years. It's one of the higher global warmer for potential with 1,600 as a value and it's under the stress of the phase out anytime soon with EPA regulation.

Recently, as a lot of you guys might be aware of, AIM Act, EPA has been working on the AIM Act for years now for the HFC phase down and they just confirmed their final ruling in October for HFC phase down where they suggested that any global warming potential of 150 or lower is acceptable in terms of aerosol cleaner or anything in the propellant phase. It's like combination of these trade-offs that you have to be worried about for going forward for choosing your chemistry for your application wise. Another hot topic is PFAS, which are in media is characterized as a four-hour chemical and we haven't seen anything as restriction wise. But EPA, as I mentioned earlier that came up with these two new federal articles that the reporting of PFAS from year 2011 to 2022 is required from any manufacturer or importer of these PFAS during those years.


Regulatory Trade-Offs

Kevin Pawlowski:

On this one, I'll go ahead and cover this because this one's just a quick point that when I put together this diagram wanted to make is we've got users looking for the perfect solution. What's going to cut through all of this that I can use forever. It's going to have zero VOC, I'll be able to flush it down the drain and have no global warming. And what you're describing is water. And we know water is a real popular, it's the most popular solvent out there, but in terms of cleaning off flux or grease or whatever it is not going to do the job by itself. So that's what we're talking about.

It was we have, if you are looking forward to get in that corner next to water, you've got other issues that come up. So our job is to help you cut through this and find the right solution for you. It's not as matter of just picking one thing out and it's going to be perfect. We've got to find what cuts to the right trade-offs that you can accept within your process. That's a value that we can add to help you through that process.


Case Study: PCBA Assembly

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

So in another case studies, this one was done for our PCBA assembly end user and they were using these two cleaners. One was 3M Novec Flux Remover, and then doing the ultrasonic to manually clean their IPC class two assembly. They looked at our hydrocarbon based Techspray E-LINE Flux Remover, which was ruled out due to the flammability and high VOC content. And in the meantime when they were looking other chemistry, they did send out their PCBA to our lab and we tried our Eco-d based cleaner SMT200 for to clean their boards. And the good thing about these SMT200, it's PFAS free, and the only thing to look after is that the investment involved to change the process.

So this comes under that option three category where the end user actually decided to make that investment on their end to future-proof their processes and bought the batch cleaner and approved our SMT200 as Eco-d cleaner. And our field engineer helped them out for the initial setup of the chemistry in their new machine. So all we are saying here as a Chemtronics and Techspray, we can help out not only finding the right solution, but also can work with the equipment manufacturer if that's the choice you as a company to want to future-proof your processes going forward.


You Don’t Have to Solve This Alone

Kevin Pawlowski:

Very good. All right, so just to recap, I've got a few questions at the end that we will take a look at, but just want to recap in case we lose anybody, so you don't have to solve this alone. We covered a lot. It's the first time you've been hit with some of this, your head might be swimming, but you do have experts here. You've got Dr. Saroj here, you've got Paul here that their job, my job is to help you through this. By the way, I'm the chat guy. So if you go to our website, go to the bottom, I'm the ask the expert guy. So you send a note, it goes right to my email. So if you have questions, you want to get the conversation started, you can certainly do that and that'll go right to me and I can get it to you or you can contact them directly, their contact information is right there.

So 3M issued a force majeure notification. What does that mean? It means they may or may not deliver depending on what situation they have in their own facility. So you're putting your operation in their hands. Need to qualify replacements because that ASAP. Okay, so there is some urgency here. We do offer that direct equivalent as a stop gap on option one or we can optimize it, lower your cost, add some other benefits, better performance are your option two, or we can future-proof your operation, help you do that could be your option three. So vapor degreaser is a viable option regardless of the solvent, but beware of the trade-offs, perfect solutions don't exist. So there's always going to have to be discussions on, okay, what are we trading off? What's the disadvantages and can we make that work for you?

Okay, so we've got a few other questions. Who should we email to ask for copies of your test data on aerospace metals, especially for methylene chloride replacements? Either Paul or Saroj is a good place to start or I can get you in touch with Bill Martin. Bill Martin is our sales manager in the aerospace market, and so he could definitely be a lot of help. If I've got your email, and I probably do if you signed up for this, I'll get you his information.

Barbara says you're right that there's no magic bullet, note that aqueous processes are not always safe and economical. Additive packages can be toxic, especially excessive VOCs. Okay, so her point here is just because it's water doesn't mean you can drink it.

So our water-based solutions could be 95% water by the time it's diluted 90% water. Okay, what's the rest of that? Just because mean it's not non-toxic, absolutely true. There are additives out there that's really commonly added to water that can be harmful as well. Yeah, pay close attention to that. Work with your suppliers. Certainly we're upfront about that. And the SMT200 that we mentioned does not contain highly toxic materials. Another thing that could be really common with water-based chemistries is a higher pH. You'll see a GHS symbol with a hole being eaten into a hand. Yeah, you have to worry about that in terms of corrosion and things of that nature. So metal compatibility. There can be other things.

And then waste, she does mention very good point, waste disposal can be expensive. So do you boil it off and dispose of the leftover sludge or do you have to dispose of the whole lot of water with contaminant in it, is something you're going to have to address well ahead of time as you're qualifying a future-proof process. So that really puts a fine point on what Paul was talking about was this changing out your process as any operational operation engineer will tell you is a big deal. Okay, so that's going to take time. That's not the first one you're going to jump to. You need a stop gap and we can help you with that stop gap and then work alongside you for that longer term solution.

Okay. What kind of testing do you do in your qualification testing? That's a good one to end on, Paul. So can you just take us through a typical qualification without getting too deep into it? And I apologize we're running along with this is good meaty stuff, so it's good that we're getting good engagement here. So your typical qualification process for a vapor degreaser application, let's say a class two kind of application.

Paul Blair:

Well, the first question we always ask is any cleaning project is what's the contamination and what is the substrate? And then typically that's where we'll start. We can eliminate or include a lot of chemistries even before the parts arrive. So we can get parts in, depending on whatever cleaning process the customer already has in place, cleaning equipment, we can run it through our vapor degreasing... We have a vapor degreaser here in the lab and it's equipped with an ultrasonic ultrasonic unit in the cold sum. So we can do straight vapor, we can do boil sump, cold sump, cold sump with ultrasonic, and then back in the vapor for the rinse. If that is inadequate, we can run through multiple steps and actually set the timing in each one of those steps to find out what the least amount of energy, least amount of time least amount of effort to get the results. And that's generally to check the cleaning.

For materials compatibility, we'll bring the materials in and if the customer has a specific test, a protocol that they follow, we can follow that test in terms of immersion, immersion and temperature. And then we can measure weight gain, weight loss, and then dimensional changes to see what effect it has on the part. A lot of the plastics are well-known or the polymers are well-known and acrylics are always going to be a little more sensitive. Some of the other were engineered materials, engineered plastics and polymers. A little more subtle in terms of their effect. Generally what we'll do is say something implantable, we can run through and then screen some and pick the best. But in the end, the final testing is usually through the end user because they have the biggest responsibility for their customer and for their regulatory bodies. We go back and forth quite a bit. We examine things here and then send them off and then they examine and they go, "What's good, what's bad?" And then we proceed from there.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Yeah, I've seen the test reports. I mean, test reports generally will offer full details including recommendations. Also in terms of even into the process, the cleaning process itself, X number of minutes in the sump, X number of minutes in the vapor phase. And also photos close up, 40X photos of the cleaning performance, to show the cleaning performance of a particular component. I think that's pretty common. And you even have some new equipment for that too, some higher resolution equipment to show that.

Paul Blair:

We can do things like take the FTI or the surface, both before and after cleaning to demonstrate cleanliness and so on.

Kevin Pawlowski:

Okay, very good. Well everyone, we'll call this a day, we ran over. I appreciate your patience and I thank our participants here. Paul, Saroj, great job. Appreciate that. And again, any questions at all, guys, you're not in this alone. You have a friend over here in the Atlanta area that we can help you through this process. We do have a field engineers, we do have technical salespeople that can get out there, get on site and help you through this process. So just want to reinforce that. And you will be getting a copy of this presentation, so just stay tuned for that. And of course, any questions, you just reach out to us. All right. Hey, thanks a lot everybody.

Paul Blair:

Okay, thanks.

Dr. Saroj Yadav:

Thank you.



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