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With just a year to go until the use of nPB is banned, we’ve compiled a handy guide of everything you need to know about this harmful substance and why you need to change your cleaning solvent now.

What is nPB?

Short for normal Propyl Bromide, nPB is also known as solvent 1-bromopropane is a solvent commonly used in the cleaning and degreasing process for the aerospace, precision engineering, medical, optical and electronic industries.

Why do I need to stop using nPB?

nPB is as a hazardous substance, which can damage fertility and harm unborn children which is identified in the risk section of the MSDS sheet. As such, it has been registered as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), which regulates the supply and use of chemicals in Europe.

SVHC are substances that have hazards with serious consequences; in this case, ‘toxic for reproduction’. Any substance meeting the criteria for SVCH may be placed on the ‘Candidate List’ and/or the ‘Authorisation List’ (Annex XIV), which invites companies wishing to use these substances to seek an ‘authorisation’ from the European Commission (EC).

nPB has been placed on Annex XIV, so a ‘sunset date’ of 4 July 2020 has been set. After this date, its use is banned, unless an authorisation has been granted for a specific use and no alternative is available.

In most cases, there are suitable, safer alternatives to nPB, so unless they have a permit, the majority of businesses will be prohibited from using the substance from July next year.

What do I need to do?

If you’re still using nPB, now is the time to act. There may be a year until the ban comes into play, but the process of selecting an alternative can take time.

The first step is to find an alternative solvent. The good news is, there’s a range of new generation solvents which are much safer, and also more environmentally friendly.

At Fraser Technologies, we supply both solvent and aqueous solutions, depending on the cleaning requirements of the customer. For solvent cleaning, the Opteon™ range from Chemours™ is an extremely safe, ultra-low environmental impact and cost-effective option.

The newest product in our portfolio is Opteon™ SF80, a specialty fluid designed to meet the high specifications and demands of the industrial cleaning market. It is a safe, non-flammable, and environmentally friendly solvent with no ozone depletion potential, an ultra-low global warming potential (<2), and does not contain any products regulated under F-gas regulations. SF80 is an effective replacement for nPB, TCE, HCFCs, PFCs, HFCs and HFEs solvents, and is becoming known as the leader within a variety of cleaning applications such as vapour degreasing, oil and grease removal, precision cleaning, high solvency defluxing, and silicone removal, amongst many other uses.

Not only is SF80 safer than nPB, it also has the lowest Global Warming Potential (GWP)* and the highest KB (Kauri-butanol) value of any fluorinated solvent on the market by a significant margin. On average, competitors’ new generation products have a GWP of around 40, while SF80 has a GWP of less than 2.

Things to consider

  • Don’t replace one harmful substance with another

There are similar alternative substances such as Perchloroethylen (also known as PERC, PCE, or tetrachloroethylene) and Methylene Chloride (also known as dichloromethane and methylene dichloride), which don’t yet have a sunset date, but have been identified by REACH as hazardous. While a date has not yet been set, businesses should already be working to phase out these solvents – from a legal, moral and business perspective. Substituting nPB with another dangerous solvent is not only putting employees at risk, but will also ultimately increase costs, when a second alternative will soon be required.

  • Make sure you comply with F-gas regulations

Regulations around the use of F-gases (also known as fluorinated gases) have become increasingly stringent over the last few years. F-gases can be present in solvents, and have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP)*. Current Regulation limits how much F-gas can be sold in Europe and bans the use of F-gases in new equipment where alternatives with a lower GWP are widely available. It also aims to prevent F-gases emitting from existing equipment by outlining mandatory checks and servicing, and controlling the safe recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment’s life cycle. Fortunately, the Opteon™ range from Chemours™ complies with the new f Gas regulations and is just as effective as those containing F-gases – and in most cases, they also make cleaning processes more efficient and more cost-effective. For more information on F-gases and the new regulations in place, click here: https://frasertech.co.uk/2019/05/new-f-gas-regulations/ (remove for PDF)

  • Allow plenty of time

We work with our customers to ensure that the correct chemistry is specified for individual needs. Before making any recommendations, we undertake a full audit and survey of existing equipment to make sure any switch of solvents will be viable and effective. nPB can turn acidic, which corrodes the machinery from the inside. This can make the machines irreparable, so rather than a simple chemistry change, you may need to also replace your equipment. New machinery can have a lead time of up to six months, so allowing plenty of time to switch is crucial. We are on hand to make the switch as seamless as possible, and if the only requirement is a solvent replacement, this can be a very quick transition. However, it is always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario, so your business and customers are not impacted by the switch.

If you would like more details on how we can help you change from nPB, please call us on 01506 443 058 or email sales@frasertech.co.uk

*Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, generally attributed to the greenhouse effect, caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants. GWP is used to represent the equivalent of C02 being released into the atmosphere. So 1kg of C02 = a GWP of 1.

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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