Q: We are a large biopharma manufacturer and in an effort to go green with our cleaning, we are exploring cold cleaning (cleaning with cold water) using your detergents. These include Solujet in our CIP and Alconox powder for manual cleaning. Overall, they do not seem to work at these cooler temperatures, even with greatly increased time. Any recommendations for additives or would a higher concentration be better?
A: Cold cleaning is a very reasonable approach for energy conservation, and in short, its effectiveness depends on the details of the application.
At Alconox Inc. we have a rule of thumb that for every temperature increase of 10°C, cleaning time is cut in half (based on the Arrhenius Principle). Obviously, this will not fit for all residues and all cleaning applications. For example, there are some compounds that become more difficult to clean at higher temperatures (often found in the cosmetics industry). However, by and large, this is a good rule for many common residues found in typical biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, food and related processing.
Consequently, if your manual cleaning or CIP was running at 70C (or perhaps higher) and you’re attempting to clean now at 20C, there could be a 5-fold ‘doubling’ of the cleaning time that is necessary. In other words, a 1 hour cleaning cycle at 70C could need to be as long as 32 hours at ambient (“cold”) temperatures. For a static soaking mechanism this may prove to indeed be a greener, lower energy intensive step under some circumstances (i.e. overnight soaking). In contrast, a CIP cycle for such extended periods of time will very likely not be efficient.
Investigating whether shorter cleaning processes at warmer temperatures or longer processes at colder temperatures is more efficient would require cost benefit analysis of the precise cycle and goals.
Regarding concentration, increasing the concentration increases the amount of residue that can be removed, or the capacity of the detergent. However, little will be done to effect the detergency or cleaning ability of the detergent. Different detergents may clean more quickly, but these would be very specific to your substrate material, exact residue, and cleaning method in question. We would be happy to discuss further.
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