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Distillation of EcoFlex Solvent

EcoFlex is a solvent designed for effective washout of photopolymer, flexographic printing plates. At sea level, the initial boiling point of the solvent is 365. F, and has a final boiling point of 405. F. This range is for all individual components in the blend. The Tag. Closed Cup flash point of EcoFlex Solvent is 145. F.

Due to the relatively narrow boiling range of EcoFlex, vacuum distillation, for recovery, is well suited. EcoFlex is readily distillable in virtually all, commercial vacuum distillation equipment. EcoFlex is a relatively safe solvent. However, the flash point is substantially lower than its boiling point. Therefor EcoFlex distillation must be performed in an apparatus that is designed and certified for flammable liquids. At no time should solvent vapors be exposed to temperatures above its flash point outside of a sealed still that is completely purged of air. Also be sure that the waste drum used while dropping the still bottom is grounded. Still bottoms should be cooled to a safe temperature before dumping, especially if cook down is not complete.

EcoFlex Solvent is designed as a very low odor solvent. A thorough evacuation of previous chemistry in the still, holding tanks, etc., should be performed before starting with EcoFlex. It takes only a 4-5% level of contamination of other competitive solvent for the EcoFlex solvent to pick up undesirable, nuisance odors of the previous solvent.

For a large distillation run performed by a distillation service company, it is desirable to process EcoFlex in a batch type mode. For example, if you were to distill 275 gallons( 5x55 gal. drums) of EcoFlex, capture the recovered solvent in a tote or mixing vessel. Then agitate with an air- powered mixer, before re-drumming the finished solvent. It is possible that as the thermal oil builds heat, the lowest boiling point components of EcoFlex will distill before the highest boiling point components. Therefor it is possible that the first material over might not be representative of the complete EcoFlex formula. By capturing the entire batch in a single vessel, and agitating, this will eliminate the above possibility. Also, virgin EcoFlex contains a defoaming agent that does not carry over in distillation. The defoamer is present at a 1 fluid ounce per 55 gal drum ratio. For rotary washout users it is best if the defoamer is added back after distillation. The defoamer used in EcoFlex is Patcoat 847. Other than using virgin EcoFlex as top off, the defoamer is the only add back needed, when distilled at the following still settings.

The thermal oil temperature should be set at 365 F. 375 F. This thermal oil temperature is optimal if your still will pull vacuum in the range of 27 to 28 inches Hg.

Vapor temperature will range from 245 . F. to 292 F. final during the distillation run.

Typical flow rates for larger stills (120- 150 gal. still pots) is 22 gallons per hour. Typical washout systems with an automatic rinse/replenishment feature will load monomers into the solvent at an eight to nine percent range by weight. Typical recovery of solvent is 90 to 91 %.

A visual inspection of solvent flow through the site glass will be necessary on your first couple of runs to determine the effective cook down time in your still. As vapor temperature rises to 300 . F., this should coincide with decreased or end of carry over flow and signal the end of your cook down.

If you are a plate-maker, with in-house distillation it is important that proper thermal oil temperature, adequate vacuum, and corresponding vapor temperatures are achieved, to ensure that EcoFlex is carried over in the process homogeneously. By homogeneously we mean that all of the components of EcoFlex are carried over simultaneously. This will ensure that the solvent in the clean solvent recovery tank is of virgin EcoFlex quality.

When running a distillation of EcoFlex in a closed loop production environment it is important to recover all of the components of EcoFlex simultaneously. As a general rule of vacuum distillation the thermal oil should be set 100 . F above that of the target vapor temperature. The amount of vacuum present during distillation plays an important role in determining the proper oil and vapor temperature. The higher the vacuum, allows for lower thermal oil and vapor temperatures needed for homogeneous recovery. Refer to the chart below for correct settings based on system vacuum.

Vacuum(in. Hg) Vapor Temp. F.  Vapor Temp. .C. Thermal Oil . F
28  249 121 349
27 268 131 368
26 284 140 384
25 295  147 395

  Should you need further information on the distillation of EcoFlex solvent, contact 
EcoPrint Solutions at (336) 712-0323.Or you may e-mail us at ecoprintsolv@cs.com.

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