Degreasing Oil Sands Equipment: Your Guide to Sourcing Safe and Sustainable Low VOC Degreasing Solutions

Are you searching for a more sustainable way to clean your heavy haul trucks, buckets, shovels, and oil sands equipment?

Struggling to find a solution that meets Canadian VOC legislation and your environment, health, and safety requirements while keeping costs in line and maintaining performance?

If so, we’re here to help you identify the factors to consider when sourcing sustainable heavy-duty degreasers.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate proven, low VOC sustainable degreasers into your cleaning process without sacrificing cost or performance.  

We’ll discuss the factors involved in sourcing suppliers, screening degreasers, and performance testing. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be well-informed with the knowledge to help you embrace more sustainable solutions for cleaning your oil sands equipment. 

Step 1: Assess Your Current Solution

Before making any changes, assess the effectiveness of your current solution. Some questions you may want to ask include: 

  • Is our degreasing operation optimized for cost, performance, and sustainability? Consider degreaser costs, volumes, number of applications, labour, water, and energy expenses.
  • Does our degreaser meet Canadian VOC legislation?
  • Does it have a strong odour?
  • What problems am I experiencing with my current degreasing solution and provider?
  • Does my current degreaser contain toxic or carcinogenic chemicals? 
  • Does my current supplier fully disclose the hazards of their degreaser on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS)? 
  • Does their degreaser contain renewable or natural solvents? If so, what percentage? 
  • Do they fulfill our service and delivery expectations? 
  • Are the promised results being delivered? 

By recognizing the shortcomings of your current degreaser and degreaser supplier, you can better select a solution that aligns with your needs. 

Step 2: Compile a Shortlist of Potential Suppliers

Once you are clear about your needs, identify potential degreaser suppliers with more sustainable degreasing solutions. Consider companies with a solid history of success. Request references, check online reviews, evaluate delivery options, billing terms, and the ease of doing business with them. 

Some other questions to consider include: 

Step 3: Assess Sustainable Degreaser Options

Review each degreaser suppliers’ options. Consider all environment, health, and safety parameters. To ensure sustainability, consider the following: 

  • Is the degreaser optimized to reduce chemical consumption? Look for heavy-duty degreasers with optimized product viscosity to ensure reduced run-off and enhanced cleaning of vertical surfaces. 
  • Do they offer ultra-low VOC and biodegradable degreasers? 
  • Are their degreasers formulated with natural or renewable solvents and plant derivatives? 
  • Is the degreaser flashpoint high enough for safe use? Remember, degreasing often takes place before hot equipment surfaces have fully cooled. The longer you have to wait to reach a safe temperature, the longer your equipment is out of service.

From these questions, you can rank your degreaser options according to sustainability. Select degreasers that meet your criteria. In the next step, you’ll assess performance.

Step 4: Run Trials in Your Wash Bay

Select degreaser(s) for trial and arrange testing in your wash bay. Apply degreasers according to your standard procedures and compare performance. Remember to consider number of applications, dwell time, water temperature, and dilution (if applicable). Depending on application, typical oil sands cleaning procedures involve: 

  1. High-pressure rinse to dislodge stubborn oil sand residues, often through water cannons. 
  2. Degreaser application and dwell time. 
  3. Second high-pressure rinse. 
  4. Assess cleanliness and if necessary, apply additional degreaser to problem areas. 
  5. Final rinse. 

Step 5: Assess Results and Select Your New Sustainable Degreaser

Now it’s time to assess the results of your degreaser testing and determine the most suitable, sustainable degreaser for your operation. Ensure the degreaser meets your performance, environment, health, and safety standards. Once identified, notify the supplier, and decide on a date to transition to your new degreaser. Your new partner should fully manage the changeover process, overseeing inventory changes as products switch over and training personnel with respect to degreaser application and safety. 

Remember, sustainability is more than what the degreaser is composed of. Options that are more effective with fewer applications will allow you to reduce your degreaser use. Fewer resources used—degreaser, water, and energy result in more sustainable options. 

Case Study: More Sustainable Heavy Equipment Degreasing in Fort McMurray

A large Fort McMurray oil sands wash bay facility needed a new multi-purpose solvent degreaser compliant with updated Canadian VOC legislation. The low VOC product had to maintain high performance, effectively removing baked-on oil sands, bitumen, and heavy oil deposits from diverse heavy equipment, including heavy haul mining trucks.

Guardian Chemicals introduced Terrasol ULV, resulting in a 95% reduction in VOC levels, reduced solvent odours, and effective degreasing performance.

Transform Your Cleaning Practices with Sustainable Degreasing Solutions

Embracing sustainable cleaning and degreasing practices in your heavy haul trucks, buckets, shovels, and heavy equipment cleaning procedures can yield enormous benefits.

With new ultra-low VOC degreasers from Guardian Chemicals, you can experience improved operational efficiency, safety, cost savings, and reduced environmental impact.

By implementing these practices, you can keep your equipment in service longer, reduce your resource use, and increase the sustainability of your cleaning and degreasing operations.

When you’re ready, contact us to learn how we can help you employ more sustainable degreasers in your operations. Degreasers that help you Create a Better Future.

FAQ: Best Practices for Selecting Safe, Sustainable and Low VOC Oil Sands Degreasers

What are the environmental benefits of sustainable degreasers compared to traditional solutions?

Sustainable degreasers minimize environmental impact by reducing hazardous waste, lowering VOC emissions, and in some cases containing biodegradable solvent components. These solutions are safer for your staff and greener alternatives to traditional solvent degreasers.

What are the costs of transitioning to more sustainable low VOC degreasers, including potential operational cost savings?

Costs vary. In most cases, our low VOC degreaser options are more effective resulting in significant reductions in degreaser use/consumption and reduced operational costs. Additional savings are often found in reduced waste disposal and transportation charges.

How compatible are sustainable degreasers with different types of oil sands equipment and the deposits encountered?

Our degreasers are versatile. They effectively clean most contaminants seen in the oil sands without causing damage to the equipment being cleaned.

What training or procedural changes will be necessary for my team to effectively use the new low VOC degreaser?

You can use our new low VOC degreasers like Terrasol ULV, in the same way as your current solutions.

Can sustainable low VOC degreasers effectively remove heavy oil and bitumen from oil sands mining equipment?

Yes, they are formulated to tackle heavy oils and bitumen effectively while reducing the impact on the environment and human health. In most cases you’ll also see an increase in overall degreasing performance, reducing your degreaser consumption.

What are the cost differences between traditional and sustainable degreasers?

Sustainable options may have slightly higher upfront costs but offer long-term savings through reduced consumption, efficiency, and safety.

What are the safety benefits of using sustainable degreasers for workers?

Reduced exposure to high VOC concentrations and harmful chemicals, lowers health risks and contribute to a safer working environment. And, sustainable low and ultra-low VOC degreasers often offer significantly higher flashpoints for enhanced user-safety. Our industry leading TerraSol ULV has a flashpoint >95°C whereas conventional degreasers in this space often have flashpoints of 62°C or less.

What criteria should be used to select a sustainable degreaser?

You should base your decision on degreaser effectiveness, environmental impact, safety profile, cost, and compliance with Canada’s VOC regulations.

What are the safety benefits of switching to TerraSol ULV?

TerraSol ULV enhances safety in heavy haul truck cleaning by: 

  • minimizing worker exposure to VOCs 
  • reducing flammability risk with it’s high flashpoint (>95°C) 
  • eliminating exposure to other harmful chemicals often found in alternative degreasers 
  • and reducing strong washbay odours

Table of Contents

Originally published June 26, 2023. Updated with additional content and FAQ February 5, 2024.

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