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 There is now just one month to go until n-propyl bromide (a.k.a. ‘nPB’ or ‘1-bromopropane’) will be banned under REACH regulations from use as a component cleaning agent, except where authorisation to keep using it is granted. 

If you’re still using nPB, there’s no need to panic just yet. There’s still time to find an alternative and there is a range of new generation solvents which are much safer, and also more environmentally friendly. However, you should take action immediately to ensure that your cleaning processes are compliant. 

Here are our top tips to help you switch and to keep your employees safe: 

1 Know how the ban affects your cleaning system 

The first step is to understand how the ban will affect different types of cleaning systems. Users of ECSA type I and type II cleaning systems (respectively: open-top, enclosed) will need to stop using nPB from 4 July 2020 and use an alternative cleaning agent. 

nPB can turn acidic, which corrodes the machinery from the inside, so you may need to also repair or even replace your equipment. 

2 Get specialist advice from a business you can trust 

Taking advice from a cleaning industry specialist will help you understand the implications of nPB replacement. We offer a one stop solution to nPB replacement including free expert advice and pre-purchase trials of chemistries and equipment. We can undertake a full audit and survey of existing equipment to make sure any switch of solvents will be viable, effective and safe. 

We provide guidance through REACH and other regulations to ensure that you understand how to remain compliant, whatever your type of cleaning system. 

We constantly review performance to ensure we are providing the latest technology, best results and first-class customer service, as well as meeting increasingly stringent regulations. When you see our brand, you can be rest assured that you are getting a product you can trust – and we’ll be with you for support at every stage of the process. 

3 Take stock of the alternatives 

All current nPB users will need to identify new replacement cleaning chemistries. But caution is advised. Some alternatives which may be suggested are also restricted solvents, such as Perchloroethylene (PERC) or Methylene Chloride (MECL). These substances pose numerous health risks and usage restrictions are set to be put in place, so they are not safe alternatives, and they may require replacement soon. Make sure you’re not substituting one harmful substance for another. 

New generation cleaning agents are worthy of consideration as a replacement. SF80™ by Chemours™, for example, is a drop-in nPB alternative. With superior cleaning performance to nPB and other restricted solvents, it is also safe and extremely eco-friendly, with one of the lowest GWP figures on the market. The new generation range from OpteonTM meets all the new F-gas regulations which have been put in place, allowing you to make a one-step replacement saving time, and ultimately costs. 

4 Assess the true cost of alternatives 

The total cost in use of cleaning agents is sometimes overlooked. Price per litre should not be the only factor to consider. Other restricted solvents may have a similar price point to nPB, but this may mask their overall cost in productivity and safety terms. 

Restricted solvents, including nPB, continue to be subject to special storage and handling requirements, as well as vapour extraction and compulsory occupational exposure monitoring – all of which are ‘hidden’ costs. A replacement such as SF80 is non-flammable and has a safety exposure limit of 202ppm (ten times better than PERC), which eliminates all of these additional costs and can actually boost productivity through energy savings and faster component drying times. 

5 Undertake trials 

You may wish to consider trials of replacement chemistries with your particular components and soil types, as well as new cleaning equipment and agents. 

At Fraser Technologies, our facility includes free customer trial centres in the London and Edinburgh areas. These allow you to test out alternative chemistries, as well as new equipment if required, before buying. This helps you to make an informed choice into what the best alternative solution is for your specific needs. 

If you would like advice on nPB replacement, please get in touch with us today. 

Technical details about the hazard classification of nPB can be found on the ECHA website: https://echa.europa.eu/substance-information/-/substanceinfo/100.003.133

Fraser Technologies are proud to have supported the cleaning industry for last 50 years, working closely with their customers to understand their challenges and their expertise to offer best-in-class cleaning solutions. From component cleaning, electronics soldering, and heat transfer & carrier fluids they have built their expertise over the last 50 years and still continue to offer technological advances, adapt to legislative changes and embrace environmental challenges.

Fraser Technologies are well known for being considered one of the leaders within the Precision Cleaning industry and offer a wide range of new generation chemistries coupled with both solvent and aqueous cleaning systems. They can help extend the life of existing processes and equipment, recommend and install new equipment, or look at how best to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. This is all achieved through their superior trial and demonstration facilities and first class after sales service.

Companies from the aerospace & defence, electronics, medical, optics and automotive industries have chosen to work with them because of their expert knowledge in their industries, their independent range of products, and their can-do tried and tested approach to ensuring they provide access to the latest technologies – improving performance, productivity, environmental performance and operator safety.

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