Research Center Solves Coolant Odor Problem And Improves Recyclability

Recently, the shop personnel at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, complained of a pungent odor problem with the coolant being used. To solve this problem, the Center's engineering group developed a coolant management program.

Case Study From: 10/1/1996 Modern Machine Shop

Recently, the shop personnel at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, complained of a pungent odor problem with the coolant being used. To solve this problem, the Center's engineering group developed a coolant management program.

According to John Doherty, model maker/project manager at NASA/Ames, a space flight-approved, chlorine-free coolant, Blaser 2000CF (from Blaser Swisslube, Goshen, New York) was introduced to the shop. "This coolant," explained Mr. Doherty, "aided our maintenance by physically rejecting unwanted waylube and hydraulic oils (tramp oils). One of the major reasons coolants will start to smell bad and physically break down is due to excess amounts of tramp oils. We found that if we periodically removed the batch of coolant from its sump and gave it time to rest (separating tramp oils and particulate), then physically removed the tramp oils, and so on, we solved our odor problem."

"Also we effectively cut our waste stream and increased productivity and longevity of the coolant without biocides, creating a safe working environment in the shop. By keeping the coolant clean, Blaser coolant showed no signs of breakdown over our one-year test period. The same stability test was run with our existing coolant, which was not shown to be chemically, biologically or physically stable over the same test period."

By using recycling methods, NASA/Ames personnel are able to separate tramp oils and particulate from the coolant, thus allowing them to reuse or recycle the coolant and dispose of tramp oils and particulate only. In the past, they were not able to do this and had to dump coolant on a regular basis.

NASA/Ames tested Blaser 2000CF in one high-use machine over a three-month period, manually removing tramp oils, and recovered 0.56 gallon of waste oil for disposal. They continued to use this coolant with no problems. On average, they had previously disposed of 55 gallons of waste oil and coolant from this machine over a similar three month period.

By using the Blaser coolant in combination with updated recycling methods, NASA/Ames decreased their coolant/oil waste stream by 98 percent. Also, by dumping only tramp oils and not coolant, their coolant usage has decreased. Other characteristics noted by the model makers include the following: increase in tool life; superior performance on exotic metals; improved condition of machine by removal and prevention of rust; and parts are not stained.

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