Service shop owners trying to be environmentally conscious have a kinder, gentler option to clean auto parts. ChemFree Corp. in Norcross, Ga., is offering a system that cleans parts with a nontoxic degreasing solution through a process that uses enzymes to break down oil, grease and other contaminants, without producing hazardous wastes.
The company's SmartWasher system, which holds 20 gallons of a cleaning solution, has a sink large enough to accommodate a transmission case. The filter, located beneath the sink, traps larger particles; smaller particles flow into the basin, where enzymes break down the grease and oil into water and carbon dioxide.
The solution, kept at 105 degrees, is constantly cleaned and recycled within the unit.
SmartWasher leases for about $1,300 a year. Fluid and filters cost about $40 per month, compared with about $95 to $150 a month to service conventional parts washers.
The filter should be changed monthly, and five gallons of solution should be added every six to eight weeks.
General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp. and BMW are including the SmartWasher in their 1996 dealer equipment catalogs, and ChemFree said that Ford Motor Co. is evaluating the product.
According to a GM executive, the product was tested in an independent garage that specializes in repairing older auto-mobiles.
There, technicians poured brake cleaner and other solvents into the washer and dropped a rear axle housing in it. After several months of using the SmartWasher, the tank was drained into a 55-gallon drum. The techs expected to find plenty of sludge in the bottom, but found none.