ELECTRICAL CLEANING SOLVENTS
This issue will update "Technical Talk" Volume 7 with
added information on some new solvent technologies
being used in electrical cleaning. We'll review some of
the key performance properties of electrical cleaners,
talk about the cleaners available today, and discuss the
field use techniques that have been developed for these
For several decades, electrical maintenance cleaning
and degreasing was done with chlorinated solvents, first
using carbon tetrachloride, and then switching to the
less toxic 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (also called methyl
chloroform, trichlor, or TCA). Aerosol cans, wiping
pads, and small bulk packages of trichlor and trichlor
blends were common for electrical cleaning.
This chlorinated solvent was used
maintenance for motor refurbishment and cleaning
bushings and breakers. Trichlor was also used in
medium and high voltage splicing, where corrosion
inhibitors, semi-con polymer residue, filling gels, and
general hand grime has to be removed from the
insulation to prevent tracking failure.
Trichloroethane has several physical characteristics
that make it suitable as an electrical cleaner. It
dissolves and removes a broad variety of electrical
grime. Trichlor evaporates quickly and it
trichlor was not used
cleaning. This strong solvent could adversely affect
plastic contact mountings and circuit boards. A less
powerful solvent, CFC 113, was common for such
"contact cleaning" use.
However, both trichlor and CFC 113 are Class 1 Ozone
Depleters, and their production has not been allowed in
the larger industrialized countries for several years.
Less industrialized nations will also soon have to phase
out the production and use of these solvents.
systems have been
developed and used successfully in electrical cleaning.
In the United States, slower drying petroleum dis