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Technical Performance Evaluation of the Potential Biobased Floor Strippers. 2008.

Biobased products may soon replace most petroleum-based chemicals, industrial products and composite materials. Advocates emphasize that these products are environmentally friendlier, safer and healthier for the users. Others argue that promotion of these industrial products would make the United States more secure by depending less on foreign energy sources. This paper presents results of identification and technical performance evaluation of some biobased products. They are potential alternatives to the petroleum-based floor strippers.

Within the framework of cleaner production (CP) and toxics use reduction (TUR), this study identified and subjected the potential alternative products to technical performance experiments. Two sets of experiments were performed. The first set of experiments involved laboratory scale experiments using different cleaning products and techniques. The second set of experiments involved pre-field tests conducted on a typical floor in the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) laboratory. All experiments employed TURI’s standard operating procedures (SOP) under different experimental conditions varying the temperature, soaking time, cleaning media (abrasive pads or cotton cloth) and the concentration of products.The cleaning efficiency for each of the biobased or green products used was based on the gravimetric analysis of the coupons or via a standard visual method based on a UV (black) light or both.

A total of 14 floor stripping products were identified from various sources. About 21% of these products were soy based. Corn and citrusbased products accounted for 7% of each. While about 43% of the products were classified as plant based, 22% of products were labeled only as green products containing biodegradable ingredients without further classifying their specific sources. Variations in the technical performance of potential biobased floor strippers tested were observed. Performance of concentrated potentialbiobased floor strippers was in the range of 50 to 99%, with the Botanic Gold performing best at 94% contaminant removal efficiency. CornSolv was eliminated because of its odor while DBE-6 was abandoned because it peeled off the floor tile surfaces. The technical performance of Botanic Gold at 25% dilution was comparable to the current floor stripping product. It is recommended that larger field trials should be conducted and at the same time determine janitors’ perceptions on the use of these products. It is important to investigate the common additives to the biobased industrial chemicals and products and to determine their effects on technical performance of these products.

Finally, we recommend that a review of the current status and future direction of the relevant policies and regulatory frameworks that can promote biobased industrial chemicals and products should be performed. Furthermore, there should be a bold effort to encourage broader public debate about the future of the biobased industry in the context of environmental, health and safety and societal sustainability.

Authors:  E. Massawe, K. Geiser, M. Ellenbecker, J. Marshall

Journal of Cleaner Production, v16 no. 1, 2008.