Recently, I attended The Eleventh Annual International Workshop on Solvent Substitution and the Elimination of Toxic Substance and Emissions. Speakers ranged from Air Force colonels to EPA directors, to people from companies such as Boeing, Raytheon and DuPont. Although there was no major revelation of a new solvent that would solve all VOC emission problems, the conference did provide some interesting papers.
One paper, by Colonel Ross Miller of the U.S. Air Force reported on the Air Force's progress in toxic release reduction. Not to be cynical, but during the time the data were collected, there were several base closings and some of the work was shifted off-site. The Colonel acknowledged this, but then pointed out how little the military's operations actually contribute to total VOC emissions in the U.S. I have to wonder if that isn't because most of the work is contracted to outside vendors who are then forced to deal with the expense of VOC reduction.
Other talks focused on where users can go for information on programs about solvents and coatings. One particular program is The Coatings Guide, which was developed by the Pollution Prevention Program at Research Triangle Institute in cooperation with the U.S. EPA Agency Office of Research and Development Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division. The Coatings Guide is a free Internet pollution prevention tool to help small business coaters. The Guide provides information on coating chemistries, a cost tool to identify what material, equipment and other costs may be involved when changing to a new coating, a product guide and more. Another program from the Pollution Prevention Program at Research Triangle Park is SAGE, the Solvent Alternatives Guide. This is an electronic handbook designed for shop owners, cleaning process engineers and anyone with questions about solvent substitution for parts cleaning. As you enter the site you answer questions on the material or part you want to clean, such as shape, size, coatings, soils, cleanliness requirements and current equipment. The system returns information on likely processes and chemistries to replace your current solvent process. You can also bypass this process and simply search this free site (http://sage.rti.org) for solvent alternative information.