Ladies, Keep Your Eye On Your Mister

And Other Separator Water Issues

Written by Steve Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics
As seen in the November 2010 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

Cleaning and purifying dry cleaning solvents for reuse has been around since the beginning of the dry cleaning industry.  Historically, solvents were considered inexpensive, so the degree to which they were reclaimed was considerably less than it is today.  The rule of thumb used to be a 1 to 5 loss/recovery ratio.  That means that 1 part solvent was lost for every 5 parts recycled.  Today that ratio is much, much lower with some dry cleaners telling me they lose only 1 part of perchlorotheylene (perc) for every 20 parts recycled. 

While the dry cleaning machines, now in what’s considered their 5th and 6th generation, are much better designed and considered safer for the environment, the management of separator water continues to pose environmental concerns.  Separator water is generated during the distillation and solvent recovery process.  Vapors from the distillation process are condensed into a mixture of solvent and water.  The solvent is typically recoverd from the mixture by gravity in the water separator.  The remaining water in the separator has dissolved solvents in it and if the solvent being used is perc, the separator water will more likely than not be considered a hazardous waste. Continue reading “Ladies, Keep Your Eye On Your Mister”