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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Xerox

Xerox Corporation, Webster


By switching to a carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning system, Xerox has eliminated the use of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and a citrus-based material from the cleaning process.

The facility at Webster, with approximately 10,000 employees, produces and assembles photocopying equipment and supplies. This division of Xerox, the centralized refurbishing center, reconditions used equipment for reuse.

Disposal costs, proposed tighter limits on VOC emissions, and opportunity for productivity improvements prompted Xerox to adopt a jet-engine cleaning technology for refurbishing used equipment.

Methodologies and Procedures

Originally, machine cleaning was a two-stage process that required a variety of chemicals. In the first stage, loose dirt was removed by compressed air blow-off and vacuum suction. In the second stage, a citrus-based material was used for general cleaning and the solvent, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, for stubborn dirt.

The jet-engine cleaning technology consists of an abrasive blasting system using CO2 pellets. CO2 gas, a byproduct of many of Xerox's production processes, is captured and liquefied. The liequid CO2 is allowed to flow into a pelletizer where it is converted into a solid form (pellets). The pellets are directed through a spray gun and nozzle assembly at high velocity to the part of the equipment to be cleaned and reconditioned. Upon impacting and lifting the dirt layer, the pellets sublimate to their next stable state, which is a gas.

The CO2 gas travels under the broken layer of dirt and in a Amushrooming@ effect lifts the dirt away. Loose dirt and debris from the encrusted dirt is vacuumed and disposed of as industrial waste.

The CO2 blasting, machine cleaning is now a single-stage process requiring no hazardous chemicals or disposal of hazardous waste. Improvements in process efficiency of 40 percent were realized with the carbon dioxide cleaning.


Faster cleaning time, lower machine dissembly levels required for cleaning, higher cleaning quality and a more efficient cleaning method, allow for the salvage and reuse of old machines.

Annual disposal cost savings of $125,000 have been realized from the elimination of 1,1,1-trichloroethane in the cleaning process.

The salvaging of used equipment for reuse plus the elimination of hazardous waste disposal have resulted in a total cost savings of $4 million at the Xerox Webster site for the years 1992 and 1993.

Elimination of toxic contaminants has reduced potential exposures from emissions and accidental spills to employees, the community and the environment.

The on-going annual cost savings is estimated at $500,000 a year for the Webster site.

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This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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