Another year on and the question of solvents is still an unresolved issue in drycleaning. Although perc remains an established choice, hydrocarbon machines appear to be making further inroads, and their technology is bringing benefits all round in terms of faster, more efficient drying cycles.

Distillation remains an issue of contention. Duval holds to the view that the choice is down to the customer, but that given the advanced technology of its own dedicated hydrocarbon machines, a still is not necessary in most cases. Distillation is always on offer but with 40 installations in place, the company says that none of its customers has yet taken up the retrofit option.

This year it introduced a slimline hydrocarbon range, the Easy, to complement its standard Hydroval series, and this will be available with an integrated still as an option.

Designed for maximum user-friendliness the Easy uses the same controls as the Mito perc machines, so operators changing over to hydrocarbon or using the two types side-by-side should have few problems.

The first machine in the range will be the Easy 32 with 32 lb capacity, and a 50 lb machine is planned. Features include a frequency controlled inverter drive to ensure a high extract speed—600 rpm and 160 G—but the heavy catchment tray and three solvent tanks lower the centre of gravity so dynamic loading is no greater than for a traditional perc model.

Duval has also updated its Mito perc range. Effectively replacing the M-45, the Mito 245 has a 45 kg capacity and is the largest of the two-tank compacts. The 245 litre still capacity is sufficient to hold both the contents of the maximum dip and the volume of the filter. This is claimed to give such a large margin that it completely avoids blackovers or foaming.

The Mito 222 is the smallest machine in the range with a nominal 22 lb rating and a footprint of just 1.2 metres.

Even on all-electric variants of these machines, steam is ducted from the still jacket to preheat the drying air. This means that no heater battery is needed for drying. Proving drying efficiency, residual solvent concentrations in the cage at the end of the cycle are less than 60 ppm, and Duval points out that at such low levels a carbon recovery unit is unlikely to be needed. Both machines are also available to order in 3-tank versions.

At Parrisianne the Union 7 Series has been redesigned and extended to include both hydrocarbon and perc models. The introduction of hydrocarbon into the range has resulted in research into drying technology and as a result, the benefits of a faster, more efficient drying system have been brought to the whole range.

The 7 Series also features self-cleaning lint screens, which reduce the need for operators to clean the screens after each load and maintain drying efficiency. The cage now has perforations on the back plate in addition to those on the outer arc and this, together with an improved recovery head, allows faster air flows.

The 7 series covers both perc and hydrocarbon options and offers two formats: slimline—covering four machines from 10 to 15 kg; and wide—four models from 10 to 19 kg capacity.

Böwe has introduced developments in both perc and hydrocarbon machines and updated its control systems throughout. From the turn of the year, all machines will feature CS3000 computer controls designed for easy use, available with multilingual instructions. This allows both fault diagnosis and accessing of production data to be carried out from remote locations via the modem.

The 50 kg K50 machine joins the Böwe hydrocarbon range and as with the others is specifically designed for the solvent. Distillation is optional, although Böwe always recommend its use. It is carried out under vacuum and the K50 allows 60 litres of solvent to be sucked into the still under vacuum, thereby eliminating foaming.

Böwe machines do not use batch distillation and so there will always be a ready supply of clean solvent.

A variety of filtration systems is available, but for UK users, Böwe recommends powderless installation with in-line adsorption filter within the still. This eliminates problems of fatty acids and bacteria.

The latest generation hydrocarbon machines feature Böwe’s advanced drying system which can reduce drying times by 20%, thereby allowing lower temperatures to be used. The high airflow means there is no need to increase temperature to remove solvent and as no vacuum is involved, the airflow cannot be decreased and up to 95% of the surface solvent is removed within 8 minutes of drying.

In its perc range, Böwe is adding the P25, a 25 kg 3-tank machine with a design largely based on hydrocarbon technology and with features such as advanced drying.

Earlier this year, CPT, the UK’s exclusive distributor for Firbimatic, brought in the first models in the new 900 series of perc machines. These were a 10 kg slimline machine (910S) and 12 and 15 kg machines (912 and 915) available in both slimline (S) and three-tank formats (L). At the recent Expo Detergo exhibition in Milan, the company added an 18 kg machine (918) in slimline and three-tank variants and a series of three-tank models, 920L, 925L, 932L and 940L with 20 kg, 25 kg 32 kg and 40 kg capacities, respectively.

Businesses preferring a modular style can opt for these last four as cleaning modules—920GL, 925GL, 932GL and 940GL—and choose from a range of distillation and filtration modules that are designed to suit all possible applications.

All of the new 900 series machines incorporate the new recovery head design which increases airflow by approximately 50%, resulting in faster drying.

Firbimatic continues its policy of including within the standard price, features such as back-plate cleaning, built-in in-line decolourant filter, solvent cooler and built-in air compressor.

At Expo Detergo, the company also showed a revised range of industrial (perc) drycleaning machines including three basic models, 1240, 1350 and 1380 with 40 kg, 50 kg and 80 kg capacities respectively. These industrial cleaning modules can work in conjunction with three different distillation and filtration modules covering all possible industrial drycleaning requirements. CPT also offers two hydrocarbon ranges—the Ecompact, with filtration only, with 13 kg and 19 kg capacities; and the Ecopro, with both filtration and distillation, including machines with 13 kg, 16 kg, 24 kg and 32 kg capacities.