Reducing Environmental Footprint and Costs Through Metal Treatment Processes
Metal-intensive industries, such as construction (6%), transportation (14%) or general industry (21%), contribute strongly to global CO2 emissions & energy consumption. To cope with climate change challenges, each manufacturing step must be optimized significantly. But optimization brings pressure on cost and more stringent regulations of the chemicals and resources used in these industries. While equipment costs are expected to decrease, consumer demand on performance standards are expected to rise.
Shifting Towards Greener Metal Processes
Entire value chains, from upstream metal manufacturers to downstream finished goods producers, need to continuously improve their efficiency to meet corporate commitments, government requirements and consumer expectations. Accordingly, the metal manufacturing industry is shifting away from conventional metal cleaning and conversion to adopt greener processes. Today, formulators turn toward low toxicity, resource-efficient procedures and materials to accommodate and prioritize sustainability and a reduced footprint in three main facets: energy consumption, water consumption and waste management.
Solvay’s specialty portfolio of metal cleaning materials and low-temperature metal cleaning additives provides formulators with a versatile selection of ingredients designed to improve treatment efficiency, productivity and lower production costs. With low-temperature additives, eco-friendly additives for metal conversion and more, formulators can easily contribute to energy and resource efficiency throughout all stages of treatment.
Energy Consumption in Metal Cleaning and Treatment
Energy is consumed most significantly during heating in either the cleaning or treatment stages of metal manufacturing. Reducing immersion bath temperature from 60℃ to 45℃ can save up to 60% of energy in larger baths, such as those used for car frame cleaning. Additionally, this temperature drop results in a proportional reduction in the level of CO2 emissions during cleaning. A transition of this magnitude would represent 2.7 million tons of CO2 emission savings and 1.9 TWh of energy savings worldwide from automotive car body cleaning alone.
As formulators adopt the practice of conserving energy through reduced temperatures, new issues present themselves. These lower temperatures can lead to an undesirable increase in foam generation, insufficient surface preparation or extensive drying times after treatment. Accordingly, metal cleaning solutions must utilize specialty ingredients to combat these obstacles.
Solvay’s portfolio of metal cleaning additives includes several low foam cleaners, most notably our AddikleenTM product range and Antarox® 2222. These additives excel in low temperature formulations and provide a tailored cleaning performance, decreased foam levels and emulsification power to guarantee optimal results in challenging conditions. Our AddikleenTM range and other well-designed surfactants for metal cleaning make it possible to reduce cleaning temperature while keeping the foam low and the degreasing performance high.
Water Usage in Metal Cleaning and Treatment
Reducing temperatures in metal cleaning baths also provides the added benefit of limited evaporation and a reduced water usage. For example, reducing bath temperature from 60℃ to 45℃ results in a 10% savings in water in some cases. Additionally, formulators seek to reduce water usage during metal cleaning and treatment by limiting the number of steps in the processes, as water must be used repeatedly to rinse and begin a new stage. This endeavor must be executed in a manner that does not compromise the quality of the finished, cleaned and treated workpiece.
Products in the Solvay AddikleenTM range often serve as 2-in-1 metal cleaning additives, enabling formulations that combine processes such as cleaning and etching in low temperature conditions. This range of specialty additives improves paint adhesion and corrosion resistance while limiting water usage during metal cleaning and treatment processes. Additionally, Solvay’s AddibondTM range of additives for metal conversion treatments offers enhanced adhesion of organic layers onto metals, allowing manufacturers to reduce the number of processing stages without compromising performance. These highly versatile ingredients contribute to a notable reduction in water usage in many of today’s low temperature metal cleaning and conversion operations.
Waste Management in Metal Cleaning and Treatment
In metal conversion processes, the most efficient conversion often means the least amount of waste removal requiring money and resources. Sludge, for instance, continues to be an undesirable byproduct of metal treatment processes, such as with Zinc phosphate, and limiting the amount of sludge is favorable for formulators looking to mitigate unnecessary expenditure.
Solvay’s AddibondTM has proven effective in a variety of processes, such as boosting paint adhesion, anticorrosion performance and sludge control. Due to its performance efficiency, AddibondTM in Ti/Zr conversion generates similar performance with less sludge generation during metal conversion processing as compared to industry standards (chromatation, phosphatation). Solvay’s AddibondTM also offers an extensive shelf-life, and its tremendous versatility enables formulators to cost-effectively stock their inventory and utilize the ingredient as they see fit in a variety of stages of their specific metal treatment process, including steps such as passivation or conversion.