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Changing All Carbon Cartridges.

Wednesday, June 15, 20110 comments

 Puritan All Carbon Filter cartridges by StreetsQuite often one of the comments I hear in the field is regarding the misconception that because you have a light tank and dark tank or light machine and dark machine, you can let the solvent in the dark tank/machine get as dark as black coffee. Well, maybe not that dark, but pretty dark.  While I would have to agree, that the dark machine or dark tank, does not have to be as clear as the light machine (which I would try to keep "water white"), the dark machine does have to be in such a condition that it is at least acceptable by DLI standards for solvent clarity, in order to prevent problems like the one I am about to explain.

Why do I say this?  Today I was in a plant and a customer was complaining to the plant owner about the condition of the black pants he had just picked up. And while these black pants where just fine in appearance on the outside, on the inside where the waist band used to be white, he now had the prettiest shade of pink, something he had not requested.  Which brings me to, are you changing your All Carbon cartridge filters enough?

While there could be a multitude of things that led to the dye problems that this plant experienced, for now I want to just focus on the life of an All Carbon Cartridge.  I also want to tell you that the machine filter configuration was a spin disc filter with 2 All Carbon Cartridges on each tank.

Several factors affect the dye removal capacity of a cartridge filter.  These can be 1) the actual carbon volume, 2) the type and quality of the carbon and 3) the design of the cartridge.  (Puritan All Carbon cartridges exceed all the others in these 3 areas).  So the first thing this plant owner could do is to make sure he is buying a premium cartridge filter.

Secondly, many equipment manufacturers recommend changing the "decolorizing"  (all carbon) filter at a rate of every 3 months.  While this sounds good and is easy to remember, you should actually be changing the filter based on the number of pounds of garments that are processed through that filter housing.  This means you will need to be keeping track of the weight of the garments processed for both the dark tank/machine and light tank/machine.  Using this method you will know when the approximate time comes due to change the filters, thus eliminating the guesswork.  During this time you should always monitor your solvent clarity as the pounds of garments processed between filter changes can fluctuate slightly depending on the degree of loose dye you have entering your machine.   

How many pounds will you be able to do with an All Carbon Cartridge filter?  Based on research that was done quite a few years ago, it was determined that one (1) pound of activated carbon would be able to effectively control dye for every 280-300 pounds of textiles cleaned (when supplemented with at least 6 gallons of distilled solvent per 100 pounds of textiles cleaned). However, with the way today's garments are manufactured, there is more dye being released and in my opinion the actual life of carbon has been reduced because of this excess dye and the fact that only darks are being processed along with smaller base tanks on the machines (less dilution), to possibly as low as 200-250 pounds of textiles per pound of carbon and that is with the 10-15 gallons of solvent being distilled with the 2-bath processes that are so commonly used.  Having said that, with an All Carbon cartridge having approximately 8 pounds of carbon, I would expect the life of that cartridge to be around 1800 - 2400 pounds of garments cleaned per cartridge on the dark tank.  On the light tank, because of the lack of dye being introduced to the system, filter life can be significantly greater. 

The good news is, there are a few things that can help to extend the life of your All Carbon cartridges
  • Running a 2 bath program can help to remove a large amount of loose/fugitive dye and send it to the still, before the filtered wash, thus lengthening the life of the filter. 
  • Pre-testing garments for loose dye and then running those garments in a "bleeder load" (off filter) or wetcleaning them, can help to prevent large amounts of dye from being introduced. 
  • Using effective detergents can manage moisture in the dry cleaning machine better and cut down on the amount of water soluble dyes being released.
  • Maintaining a solvent temperature of no more than 80F.  
  • And never believe that distillation is a substitute for carbon filtration.  Distillation does not occur during the cleaning cycle.  Only your All Carbon cartridge will remove dyes being released from garments during the wash cycle of the dry cleaning process. 
The actuaI length of time an All Carbon cartridge filter lasts, is not etched in stone.  There are many variables that can affect the mileage you experience from your cartridges. If you ever have questions regarding the life of your cartridge filters, contact your distributor/supplier or your manufacturers rep.  Find out what you can do to get the most out of your filters and do not forget to change them regularly for the best possible quality.


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