New industrial laundry machine uses CO2 as cleaning solvent

Published: 1-Nov-2012

In addition to cleaning well, CO2 leaves no secondary waste and no additional CO2 is generated

US students at the Colorado State University Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, in collaboration with Fort Collins-based Czero Inc, have spent more than a year on the design, build and testing of a solvent-free industrial laundry machine for a Denver company, CO2Nexus Inc.

The machine, which runs on carbon dioxide, is being installed at Aramark Cleanroom Services in Los Angeles, California, for further testing on cleanroom clothing.

The use of CO2 as a textile cleaning solvent is already well documented in dry cleaning, but textile technology development company CO2Nexus has developed the first industrial application of CO2 textile cleaning.

“Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring and abundant gas that has excellent solvency properties when it becomes a high pressure or ‘supercritical’ fluid,” said Erin Elzinga at CO2Nexus. “In addition to cleaning well, CO2 leaves no secondary waste and no additional CO2 is generated or added to the atmosphere.”

The company plans to target industrial and institutional laundry end-users who are motivated to reduce water and energy consumption, and to alleviate regulatory burdens associated with conventional commercial laundering and dry cleaning methods. These end-users include healthcare facilities, and others with unique cleaning requirements and sustainability mandates.

The project has been a great learning tool for the students, said Guy Babbitt, co-owner of Czero, which helps start-up companies with advanced mechanical engineering R&D to take new ideas from concept to prototype.

“The laboratory is increasingly expanding partnerships with other companies such as Czero and CO2Nexus to expose our students to real engineering challenges in industry,” said Mac McGoldrick, operations manager for the laboratory. The project is partially funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission. CO2Nexus also collaborated with Czero, CSU’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory and Aramark on the project.

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