In March 1989, an oil tanker named Exxon Valdez bound for California struck a reef off the pristine coast of Alaska, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the ocean. This was the largest oil spill to occur on U.S. waters, until in 2010 the Deep Water Horizon explosion that led to a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. These events were catastrophic, but share something unique – for both spills, living microorganisms were used to naturally degrade the toxic waste and reduce the severity of the spill.
The concept of bioremediation refers to the use of existing, or deliberately introduced, microorganisms to actively break down unwanted pollutants within a particular environment. After the Exxon Valdez and Deep Water Horizon oil spills, this was put to the test across a large, open space. Scale that down to the size of a worksite sink, and you’ve got CRC’s industrial parts washing system – the SmartWasher®.
For workers on mine sites, being able to quickly remove oil and grease from machinery parts and tools is important to keep operations moving. Traditionally, the industry has relied on harsh chemical solvents to do the job properly, but such products pose a myriad of risks to both people and the environment. The SmartWasher® cuts through contaminants just as effectively, but uses a solution that is non-toxic, non-flammable and PH-neutral.
“Australia has some of the biggest mining sits in the world, and most will utilise both an automatic washer, and a manual parts washer – similar to how you would have both a dishwasher and a sink in your kitchen at home,” explains Steve Colson, Global Program Director at CRC Industries. “The SmartWasher® is like the sink, for if you need to clean something quickly, or something small like tools and componentry.”
As parts are washed, the oil contaminants enter the CRC OzzyJuice® liquid, starting the emulsification process. At the bottom of the sink, the OzzyMat® releases microbes into the solution, which eat the emulsified oil, converting it into harmless water and carbon dioxide. This self-cleaning cycle keeps the fluid clean and ready to use over multiple cycles, and the mobile system can be moved to wherever it’s needed most on site.
“There are different variations of the OzzyJuice® cleaning fluid,” says Steve, “but the SWX1 has been developed specifically for Australia’s heavy mining industry. It rapidly emulsifies and creates a better cleaning experience for the technician, and is just as aggressive as a harmful solvent cleaner on grease and oil.”
“The SmartWasher® has become a truly global product, and we are supplying it across the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and different parts of Europe. In Australia, we’re looking at rollouts of up to 100 machines at a time, because industrial sites are doing away altogether with solvent parts washing.”
According to Steve, CRC’s range of bio-cleaners is backed by decades of research and development. He adds that due to growing interest in the reduction of carbon emissions and pollution, the industry is catching up to the idea of water-based and eco-friendly products.
“Every major company now has sustainability development goals, and those targets are extremely important when it comes to attracting investors. We are putting out a very simple and easy to implement solution that doesn’t generate toxic waste, is safer for users and the environment, and has a much lower carbon footprint. It ticks every box and does the job properly.”
Because the SmartWasher® mitigates the need for toxic waste haulage, and is an incredibly scalable and mobile solution, it can reduce a company’s carbon footprint at multiple stages of the production chain, Steve furthers. Conversely, the resource-intensive waste cycle of chemical solvents adds costs and liability risks to any operation, and is fossil-fuel dependent.
What’s more, the unit itself is robust and features modern cleaning components built to last. It is easy to use and maintain, which makes the day-to-day life of miners straightforward. This is important to the SmartWasher®’s design, says Steve, as his team work alongside Motion Australia to offer above and beyond the industry baseline for effective cleaning solutions.
“When it comes to sustainability goals, the onus is not only on consumers to make greener choices. We work within supply networks like Motion Australia to help the transition towards greater product availability and awareness in the market concerning the pathway forward for less harmful lubrication and cleaning products,” he concludes.