Quaker Chemical says it is putting sustainable chemistry into action by helping customers on issues of energy efficiency, waste reduction, safety, and durability through new approaches to coolant and cleaner use.
Incremental improvements in machining operations costs and sustainability can be obtained through conventional controls, such as closely monitoring and upgrading to more bio-stable coolants to extend sump life, agrees Quaker Chemical. However, to achieve dramatic ecological and economic benefits, a completely new way of working is needed.
"Most manufacturers operate on largely linear use of materials – they employ a process where they inventory dedicated coolants and cleaners, they use them, and then dispose of them," explains product manager, Laurent Ilievski. "We knew to get the resource reductions our customers were looking for, we would have rethink that whole process and change it from start to finish."
The approach Quaker devised is called 2PAQ. It includes a compatible, two-part coolant/cleaner that is used for a wide variety of operations. This sees a two-component fluid replace many (sometimes 20 or more) dedicated fluids that a manufacturer uses for machining operations. It is formulated in different solution ratios of the alkaline and oil phases, mixed into water to prepare emulsions, to meet a wide variety of different coolant/cleaner needs.
For example, for operations that require higher levels of lubrication, the oil phase is used at a higher ratio to provide a more robust, high- performance micro-emulsion for machining cast iron, steel, and aluminium alloys.
2PAQ's versatility also allows it to be used as a process cleaner. When the cleaner solution becomes saturated, instead of being disposed of, it is added to the coolant tank to aid with volume control (top-up), so is used twice. Mr Ilievski explains: "The result can be as much as a 90% reduction in waste generation. This is dramatic, especially for customers with CNC units connected to large – 100,000 or 200,000 litres – centralised systems."
A system that offers both cleaning and cutting capabilities
And saves on disposal and top-up
The 2PAQ approach has helped Quaker's customers be both eco-efficient and economically efficient. First, by reducing wastewater quantities, customers improve their environmental compliance. Second, the customers will see savings in a number of sources: water consumption is minimised because the cleaners are reused for the makeup of the top-up emulsions; energy and wastewater treatment costs are reduced because significantly lower quantities need to be treated; capital investments in wastewater treatment equipment can be reduced or eliminated.
Mr Ilievski again: "One of our customers was planning to install a larger evaporator. Once 2PAQ was in place, they not only stopped running their evaporator the equivalent of three months in a year – saving the related electrical expenses – they eliminated the need for a new evaporator."
Furthermore, 2PAQ has been shown to enhance machining performance, especially in the foaming behaviour and stability of the emulsion, it is claimed. "This same customer, who uses a boron-free version of 2PAQ, added tank-side additives just once during the last year. And this was for maintenance purposes during the summer break. That's a very significant improvement for them," Mr Ilievski underlines.
Quaker 2PAQ is running in 37 central systems globally – some for nearly five years – in the automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing industries as well as their component suppliers for brakes, engines, gears and more. Customers have achieved dramatic annual savings.
In one example, a major global manufacturing subcontractor of braking systems for the automotive industry was looking to improve machine performance, reduce overall cost, and reduce waste of machining fluids. Quaker implemented 2PAQ in four central systems in the customer's facility. The change brought a quantified savings of €54,000 in fluid-related costs to the largest of the central systems. The savings broke down as follows: waste treatment, €35,000 to €38,000; biocide additions, €1,000; and top-ups, €18,000.
Conversion to the 2PAQ system generally only requires limited investment, says Quaker Chemical. Many customers are already equipped with large centralised systems and the associated equipment. However, some may need to invest in equipment to recirculate the cleaners into the central systems.
The 2PAQ system can also be employed alongside existing coolants, as long as the existing material is chemically compatible. Quaker can help run tests to ensure the current products are compatible with 2PAQ. So far, it says it hasn't experienced any compatibility issues with a customer's current systems.
As for learning learn how to create solution ratios for the different phases and for different applications and metal types, Quaker says: "Creating the proper ratio is not difficult and the process is not really different from choosing an appropriate coolant. Quaker's technical team works together with the customer – providing training and support to ensure the proper makeup of the emulsion. Our technical team is generally on-site for all our customers managing large centralised systems and lab tests are available, when needed."
First published online