The short answer is, maybe. Many of the cleaners used to replace alcohols, old- style chlorinated solvents, plus HCFCs and CFCs, all have Global Warming Potential (GWP) ratings of some degree or another. Careful engineers will need to determine which solvent works best in their application while minimizing the GWP.
Most MicroCare product specifications list the solvent’s “Global Warming Impact” (GWP) when it is provided by the chemical manufacturers. Lower scores are better. The summary below might help you make a proper selection:
Low GWP Solvents
If you desire to use a low Global Warming Impact cleaning fluid, select the VOC-Free Flux Remover – UltraClean™ (#MCC-VOC) or the Universal Flux Remover (#MCC- UFR10A). Both are fast-drying solvents, with a very brief atmospheric life; low odor; great on no-clean fluxes; affordably priced. However, they may not be strong enough for every application, and UltraClean™ is flammable.
Low GWP “Canned Air”
For customers in Europe, there is a new option: HFO-based cleaners. Today, this exciting new ingredient is used in the “precision duster” and “circuit chiller” aerosols (as well as two solvents, ProClean™ EU and VeriClean™ EU engineered by MicroCare for customers in Europe. Their ingredients have less than 1% of the global warming impact of older-style products while retaining the nonflammable status so important for worker safety.
Special Note about the Environment
Readers should be aware there is a “Catch 22” to the effort to phase-
out global warming solvents. With the exception of the HFO-based products, UltraClean™ and VeriClean™, most products with low GWP ratings probably will be a high VOC (“volatile organic compound”) solvent. VOCs contribute to low-altitude smog, so if the air in your city is brown then switching to a high VOC/low GWP cleaner may not be the best idea. In fact, it may not even be permitted by local air quality regulators. (Search these FAQs for more details on “VOCs.”)
Conversely, many products with low VOC content (a good choice for fighting against smog) have high GWP scores.
So in general if you’re worried about Global Warming you will want to use a high-VOC cleaner. If you’re worried about VOCs, you’re almost for certain headed back towards solvents with higher GWP ratings unless you can use VeriClean™ EU.
And here’s the real rub: none of this deals with other pressing issues like worker safety, waste disposal or affordability. Those are another group of issues for the savvy engineer to deal with.
It’s a tough call. But don’t worry — in the next few years MicroCare will be going further with new solvents and technologies, and introducing new cleaners using make even more progress towards protecting the environment.
If you have questions, contact MicroCare where our experts can help sort out your options.