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COVID-19 Top Tips: The importance of your water separator in vapour degreasing equipment

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Water separators, as fitted to vapour degreasing equipment serve an important role. As the name suggests, they remove vital excess water from the cleaning process…

Types of Water Separators:

Gravity – By far the most commonly fitted option and used for industrial applications degreasing parts using a mono-solvent which does not have any additional alcohols (IPA, Ethanol, Methanol) in its formulation. Works by collecting the water on top of distilled solvent which can be periodically drained off manually.



Molecular Sieve – This option is generally used for applications where the equipment is used for cleaning electronics using the co-solvent process (two solvents). It uses a removable sieve/cage which contains water absorbing beads to remove the water from solvent passing through the distillation circuit. Periodically the beads are removed and replaced with fresh ones once they become fully saturated.


What Do They Do? 

The normal operation of a vapour degreasing system will draw moisture from the local atmosphere into the working chamber of the equipment. This moisture will collect on the upper cooling coils as ice and find its way into the normal distillation process used by the equipment to self-clean. The collected distilled/clean solvent will pass through the water separator, along with any moisture/water and the water can be removed or collected.

IMPORTANT: If left un-drained or not drained frequently enough, with some solvents (Trike, Perc, nPB and MECL) there is a risk of the solvent becoming acidic and attaching welds and fittings.

These solvents should have their acidity monitored as standard, and a record of this monitoring kept with the equipment.

Steps for Draining a Gravity Water Separator

  1. Locate the water separator drain valve, usually at the rear of the equipment and labelled
  2. Open the water separator drain valve and collect the water.
  3. Repeat until a small quantity of solvent is detected.
  4. If a large quantity is recovered, allow the separator to re-stabilise (approximately 1 hour) and repeat.
  5. Record the quantity of water recovered.

Steps for Changing Your Molecular Sieve

  1. Open the sieve drain valve and collect any water and/or solvent.
  2. Remove the retaining nuts and the sieve lid.
  3. Raise the inner container, rotate slightly and lodge it on top of the outer container.
  4. Allow to drain for several minutes.
  5. Pour the contents into a suitable metal tray or dispose.
  6. Rinse carefully with water
  7. The molecular sieve can be recovered by gentle drying in an oven set below 60°C
    – *Do not recover your product more than twice in this way.
  8. Replace the contents of the inner container with fresh or recovered molecular sieve.
  9. Return the inner container to its original location ensuring that:
    – The inlet at the bottom is properly located.
    – The outlet at the side is oriented to the system outlet.
  10. Replace the gasket and lid. Replace the retaining nuts.

Note: *Each time the molecular sieve is recovered (by drying out in an oven) it losses around 30% of its absorbency capacity

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us, we are here to help during these unprecedented times.

Thank You

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