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Lipophilic Super-Absorbent Swelling Gels as Cleaners for Use on Weapons Systems and Platforms

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Final rept. Apr 2010-May 2011

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Increasingly stringent regulations on volatile organic compounds VOCs and hazardous air pollutants HAPs demand the development of disruptive technologies for cleaning weapons systems and platforms. Current techniques suffer from shortcomings in environmental friendliness, personnel health and safety, cleaning efficiency, cost-effectiveness, management of contaminated cleaning media, or in maintaining the integrity of equipment material surfaces. We propose to use novel lipophilic super-absorbent swelling gels as a disruptive solid state cleaning technology. Lipophilic super-absorbent swelling gels have been developed that will not only absorb the oil and grease from these machine parts, but will also act as an automated sweeper due to the self-generating mechanical force of the gel. An octadecylacrylate-co-ethylene glycol dimethacrylate ODA-co-EGDMA tetraalkylammonium tetraphenylborate lipophilic polyelectrolyte gel EG-18 and polystearylacrylate-co-ethyleneglycol dimethacrylate SA-co-EGDMA neutral gel NG18 were evaluated for swelling and oil sorption capacity. The results were compared with a commercially available alkylstyrene copolymer imbiber beads. For each gel, the swelling degree and oil absorption capacity were quantitatively investigated at 0-60 degrees C using a variety of polar and nonpolar solvents. The cross-linking of the polymers was studied and the compression strength was determined. The cleaning tests were performed using ASTM G122-962008 methods. NG-18 and EG-18 gels removed particulate contaminants and absorbed oils and grease on metal and non-metal surfaces without causing abrasion. The gels are also recyclable. The cleaning ability of the gels was compared with the standard solvent cleaner. Polymer gel cleaners exhibited analogues extent and rate of cleaning. In conclusion, the superabsorbent polymer cleaners developed will allow drastic reduction in use of VOC containing solvents and HAP release.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical Chemistry
  • Polymer Chemistry
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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