Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Star
October 3, 1996, Vol. 2 No. 12
used with permission
SmartWashers Use Microbes to Clean
Without Harming People or Environment
By Rochelle I.
A new breed of parts washers has become a familiar
sight at LMASC. The parts washers, called
"SmartWashers", use microbes to clean parts.
Microbes first gained national recognition when they
were used on the oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. The microbes in the SmartWasher are closely
related to those that helped clean up the Exxon
Most importantly, they are completely safe to humans
and the environment.
Twenty-three SmartWashers have replaced many of the
cold cleaners that used chlorinated solvents to remove
grease and grime from parts.
Organizations that use the self-heated parts washers,
which are made of high density polyethylene, are
Maintenance, Transportation, Tooling, Experimental,
Research and Development. Future plans include using
SmartWashers to clean F-22 engine parts as well.
The washers use a special filter pad that contains
dormant microbes, which become active when the filter
pad is placed in the parts washer and the parts cleaning
solution is added. The solution, a nonflammable,
non-hazardous, water-based detergent, is safe for
employees and the environment.
As the solution begins circulating, the microbes go
to work, attacking and eating oil and grease particles
removed from the part. As long as the filter is changed
periodically, the system remains effective.
Besides cleaning effectively, the SmartWashers are
also a good investment. Because the microbes
continuously clean the solution, it never has to be
discarded. This is different from the cleaners which
The former materials were more costly, and also
generated hazardous waste, which was expensive to
manage. Using the 23 new units will reduce use of
hazardous solvents by more than 900 gallons a year.
Also, the company will save more than $80,000 during the
first year of use.
The new parts washers are an all-around winner: for
the environment, the employees, and the company.