There are many liquid substances used in MRO facilities that can spill on the floor and become a danger to workers and the environment. If not cleaned up and disposed of properly these substances also can lead to environmental polluting down the line as well creating immediate work hazards. Cleaning spills can take time and produce a lot of harmful waste due to the caustic nature of some aviation substances.
The most common cleanup material used in MRO today is a type of crushed clay that is spread on a spill to absorb the liquid waste. After this material has been distributed over the affected area and allowed time to absorb, the spent clay is then disposed of. This material, although effective, can produce dust, another potential compromiser of workers’ health, in the facility.
An alternative product to this traditional type of cleaning material been gaining popularity in the MRO market. It is reusable, cuts down on waste produced, and uses less water and liquid cleaners. Sorbent Green, a company that creates and manufactures bio-based products, has created an all-natural, multipurpose, reusable absorbent called Greensorb.
Greensorb is a completely different material from the traditional crushed clay. Crushed clay is a dusty material that includes particles of many different shapes—some of which are not absorbent. Greensorb, on the other hand, consists of a porous ceramic particle with 30% more surface area than crushed clay. The material also has a gritty texture, which causes better traction on floors while it is absorbing and encapsulating the spill.
Workplace safety features not only include less-slippery floors but also the ability to stand up while using the product; workers can touch the product post-cleanup without having to deal with caustic fluids on their hands. A slip-free and residue-free floor is the result immediately after cleanup.
Greensorb is applied the same way as crushed clay; a generous amount is applied to the liquid spill, it is absorbed, and then the residue is swept up. The major difference is that crushed clay would have to be thrown out after usage; Greensorb is reusable. The sandy color of Greensorb changes to a dark coffee brown hue as it absorbs liquid. After cleaning a spill, light brown particles within the mix that have not changed color can be observed. This means the product can still absorb other spills. Workers can sweep up the Greensorb material and place in a container for further use. The product does not need to be disposed of until it displays a dark brown color throughout. Its capacity for multiple cleaning sessions yields a lower cost per use and mitigates waste.
Greensorb absorbs many different types of aviation liquids including fuels—Jet-A, JP-8 and skydrol amnong them—acids (except hydrofluoric acid), solvents, grease and paint. The product can be used in wet or dry conditions, inside and outside. It is non-leaching and provides more than 99% retention (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure [TCLP] tested to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines), according to the company. Hazmat liquids can be transformed to a dry solid waste and flammability and ignitability are greatly reduced. Greensorb is accepted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy.
A version of this article appears in the December 1/8 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.