Degreasing equipment varies according to the volume of degreasing necessary, the type of grease to be removed, and the utilization of the part after degreasing. For simple degreasing jobs that a do-it-yourself backyard mechanic might use, wipe-on solvents and portable pressure washers generally do the job. Industrial degreasing relies on more sophisticated degreasing equipment such as vapor degreasers, ultrasonic degreasers, and aqueous degreasing systems.
Vapor degreasers are designed to remove grease from a part suspended directly above boiling solvent in a cloud of vapor. The temperature differential between the hot vapor and the comparatively cool part produces condensation of vapor degreasing solvent, which dissolves the grease. After this hot solvent cleaning, a part might be further cleaned through ultrasonic or immersion cleaning. This method of industrial degreasing is used for electronic components and parts that might be damaged by immersion in water.
There are at least two designs of vapor degreasing equipment on the market, and they are mainly distinguished by the solvent type used in the cleaning process. One uses n-propyl bromide and chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE), and the other uses fluorinated solvents such as hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) as vapor degreasers. Degreasing equipment fitted to use HFC and related solvents are considered to be more environmentally friendly.
Ultrasonic degreasers use transducers to create ultrasonic waves that break up the grease on a part's surface. This method of removing grease is comparatively expensive, and is typically used in small systems, often in conjunction with other methods of industrial degreasing. An advantage of ultrasonic degreasers is the capability to remove grease and soils from porous material such as brass, which makes this method generally superior to other metal degreasers.
Aqueous degreasing uses special equipment to remove oils from parts in need of light to moderate degreasing. Instead of a solvent-type cleaner, aqueous degreasing employs a biodegradable detergent that produces fewer hazards to operators or the environment than many other degreasing techniques. Depending on the design of the degreaser, the contaminating oils may be emulsified and removed, or separated and mechanically skimmed from the surface of the degreasing solution. Often, aqueous degreasing precedes further cleaning in an ultrasonic degreaser.
In industrial degreasing, it is important to remember that any type of degreasing equipment designed for the use of solvents may fall under the regulations of government agencies. Any substance classified as a volatile organic compound should be used safely to prevent harm to operators or the environment. Solvents used in industrial degreasing are considered hazardous material and should be disposed of according to guidelines.