In October 2020, PPRC conducted an EcoBiz certification visit with Autobahn Motorwerks (Autobahn). Among several best practices in place, EcoBiz learned of their replacement of a solvent parts washer with an ultrasonic system, utilizing an EPA Safer Choice all-purpose cleaner. PPRC discovered that these ultrasonic cleaners are commonly used by jewelry makers and laboratories, but are becoming popular for auto repair shops, due to excellent cleaning performance and avoidance of solvents. A 30 liter (30L) unit seems suitable for throughput typical of smaller shops (under 10 employees), and 100L may be a better size for larger auto shops.
During an EcoBiz certification at another auto shop in Oregon, PPRC found they were interested in ultrasonic cleaning as well, especially because of staff sensitivity to some solvents. They periodically used non-chlorinated aerosol cleaners for parts cleaning, and for larger-part cleaning jobs, would send out an entire part for cleaning. They purchased a 30L ultrasonic unit and are trialing two non-hazardous aqueous cleaners. Both shops are pleased with ultrasonic cleaning and eliminating solvents for parts washing.
Tips, best practices for use, brief success stories, and cost benefit analyses are presented below.