During the summer of 2017 articles from our growing archive will be republished. This one was first published in January 2013.
“Access to clean water has become an increasingly important issue in many countries,” says Robert Sundell, President of Westmatic. “We have by far the most environmentally friendly systems available in the market for washing buses, trucks and trains. We strive to recycle and purify water in our operations.”
“Ever since Jan Sundell started Westmatic more than 35 years ago, environmental issues have been a driving force in our company. We got a world patent on our Purifier in 1996 and the application is certified for oil filtration for ship installations. We strive to always have the latest technology.”
To wash a train or a large truck is not the same as washing a car. Certainly, Westmatic’s washing facilities may remind one of a regular car wash, but under the surface the equipment is very different. In the Westmatic process, two stages are used to minimize water consumption and emissions of polluted waters.
To recycle, water, sand and other particles must be separated. This is done in stainless steel so-called hydro-cyclones that separate everything down to the 10-micron level. Then an ozone generator is used to prevent the emergence of microorganisms and odours.
Ozone is a strong oxidizing agent and breaks down odorous organic substances that kill bacteria and other microorganisms. After treatment, more than 85 percent of the water can be reused in the washing process. The system is fully automatic and the capacity can be sized from 165 to 1,200 litres of wash water per minute. It is only in the final rinse that fresh water is supplied.
The water that is not reused passes through an oil separator and is passed on to a purifier, which removes micro-oil emulsions and other contaminants formed when chemical cleaning fluids are used in the vehicle wash. The technique is based on a combination of electro and electrostatic precipitation, and is called electro-flocculation.
The contaminated water passes through a reactor containing an anode and a cathode plate that generates a DC current of between 130-150 Amperes. Salt is dispensed automatically into the water to create the conditions for electrolysis. The anode consists of an aluminium cylinder whose ions are released when they form flocculants with the impurities.
The electrolysis formation of small bubbles in the water contributes to making flocculants that float to the surface. The water is then transported to a tank where the flocculants are scraped off and transferred to a landfill. The cleaning of the anode and cathode are automatic by high pressure flushing and the equipment does not need to be shut down for manual cleaning. The treated water is discharged into drains and the purification rate is more than 99 percent, which meets the emission limits listed by the environmental authorities in different countries.
The purifier is patented and is useful in various industries where the cleaning of oily waters is needed. Today, there are approximately 350 cleaners installed around the world. The most part is the washing of vehicles but there are also facilities for painting, painting workshops, printing houses, ships and mechanical workshops.
Train washing gains in importance
Westmatic has over 3,000 installations of its products worldwide. The U.S. market is important, and the company established itself in Buffalo, NY in 2005 where there is now a production facility. In 2,000, the company developed its first plant for washing trains, which gradually became an increasingly important component of its product portfolio.
“We see that the market for such washing facilities is increasing and in 2012 we delivered the first two installations to the Russian State Railways. Two more plants are on their way to Russia,” says Sundell. “One of our strengths is that we have our own production units producing complete systems tailored to customer needs and that we install them ourselves.”
The article was published in January 2013