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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Xylene Equivalent

Currently we are using Xylene to clean equipment that is used with extremely non-polar compounds. Does Alconox have a cleaning product that would be equivalent to Xylene but not as harmful and dangerous to work with? It would have to be a cleaning product with a low polarity index (between 2 and 3).

Even extremely non-polar compounds can often be emulsified by polar surfactants.
Alconox and Liquinox both contain polar surfactants that would work well at emulsifying a non-polar compound that has been found to be cleaned by xylene. The rational for this recommendation is due to the non-polar end or hydrophilic end of the surfactant that contains xylene and benzene derivatives. In theory, polar surfactants typically form micelles in aqueous solution, meaning that the hydrophilic "head" regions aggregate in contact with surrounding solvent (aqueous) and the opposite non-polar or hydrophilic ends are sequestered together at the center of the micelle sphere, interacting with the non-polar compound of interest, thus trapping the non-polar compound in the center of the sphere. Due to this nature, the interior of the micelle – hydrophobic- is able to emulsify the non-polar residues.

An initial test to determine if warm 1% Liquinox (liquid concentrate) or Alconox (powder) solution to see if it will clean the non-polar compound. Note that unlike xylene cleaning, you will need to rinse away the detergent solution after cleaning. Xylene evaporates away, detergents rinse away. Our rational for this recommendation is based on the non-polar ends of the surfactants found in Alconox and Liquinox, based on xylene and benzene You do not have to try both, either of them should work. The Alconox is more economical to use, but it is a little messy to dissolve the powder to make a cleaning solution. The Liquinox is easier to handle, dose and mix.

If this fails, then consider using a semi-aqueous cleaning system that is a combination of surfactants and solvents that may be able to act as cosolvents for your non-polar residue. I would recommend trying a 5% Detergent 8 solution, but only if Alconox or Liquinox fails. Detergent 8 is a corrosive liquid that requires wearing rubber gloves and eye protection. Detergent 8 contains surfactants and semi-polar glycol ethers that might be able to solvate non-polar solvents.

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