Maclean: an environmentally-friendly way of cleaning engine parts
12 March 2021
When a helicopter engine is sent to a MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) shop , its parts need to be intensively cleaned to remove any oil, calamine, coking so that they can be inspected. One disadvantage of the current process: the cleaning process is long and requires chemical products. The cleaning agents needs to then be recycled and treated, just like the water used to rinse the parts after cleaning. The objective of the project is to develop and industrialise two cleaning processes that bring together efficiency and environment: cryogenics and laser.
This initiative, funded by a 750,000€ grant from the European Union through the environmental project, LIFE, hopes to bring a positive impact on the environment and reduce our use of chemicals.
CRYOGENIC CLEANING: This process consists of projecting dry ice (or solidified CO2) onto a surface using a high-pressure air system.
- This process is similar to sanding and works in three ways:
- Mechanical shock (projection pressure)
- Thermal shock (-80°C dry ice)
- Sublimation (transformation from a solid state to gas)
This process therefore only use CO2. It is already used in other industries but requires specific analysis and qualification on our equipment. It is ensure that there are no changes to the coatings or materials. In the long term, the objective is to be able to use this process on parts, accessories, modules and complete engines.
LASER STRIPPING: This process consists of concentrating a very strong light energy to remove the coating on all types of parts. An optimised configuration of the laser harness enables the part to be cleaned without changing the quality of the material and its coating. This technology exists in some industries but is not common in the aeronautical world. This is because it requires an optimised configuration and therefore an automation of the process. Its efficiency is however higher on parts that need a chemical approach. This is why we are developing this solution.
The two technologies are very complementary and will allow us to clean a large number of parts in our MRO process.
LIFE is a European programme that aims to help companies and local authorities to act towards to environment and healthcare. This 5-year fund makes it possible to contribute in a new way to the environment.