How to Increase the Savings of Your Solvent Distillation Operation

We’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of solvent distillation processes across more than 50 different industries. What do they share in common? Almost no one achieves the savings they should.

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Customer operations are busy, resources are constrained, and production activities are the obvious priority. Post-production processes like solvent distillation are never top-dog. It’s not that solvent distillation doesn’t work or that it can’t provide value. It absolutely does and can, but if that value is allowed to leak due to lack of attention and/or oversight, real dollars are lost that can never be recovered. Where is the value lost?

Lost Processing Due to Downtime

Downtime occurs for two primary reasons:

Maintenance & Repair: Solvent distillation units are never the top-priority of the maintenance department. The consequence is that they are typically under maintained. Further, because there is little training or support from most equipment manufacturers, on-site maintenance teams lack the knowledge-base to keep units in top condition. The lack of maintenance leads to increased numbers of repair incidents. These incidents require significant time to diagnose and even more time to source replacements – all before the repair can even begin. And during all of this? An expensive asset is idle and the value it would have created is irrevocably lost.

Functional Units Sit Idle: Units sit idle more often than anyone would believe. Whether the operator is sick, on vacation, left the company, was pulled onto another activity, or the 2nd & 3rd shift guys aren’t trained, solvent distillation equipment that could run isn’t. Perhaps the most common reason is that operators simply don’t want to run legacy equipment. Unpleasant odors, messy wastes, and generally user-unfriendly processes mean that operators take any excuse not to run the equipment. Reaping full value from distillation requires ACTIVE management, every day and every shift. This is the rub; there is great value associated with operating the unit, but when management attention is appropriately prioritized elsewhere that value is lost – forever.

The CleanPlanet solution to downtime:

  • Best-in-class equipment designed with the end user in mind means your personnel will find the equipment easy and safe to operate.
  • 24/7 web-based monitoring with numerous communication tools to help manage machine uptime (light tower, automated SMS texts, automated email, tablet in office).
  • Co-management of the process. We are watching so you can attend to what is most important to you. We will contact you directly if any action is needed.
  • Data from 70 independent sensors allow us to see and address issues before they become a problem.
  • Maintenance and Repair is our responsibility. (so you don’t have this burden, nor do you have to have the requisite expertise). We have a direct incentive to have the machine operating at all times (complete alignment with our customers).
  • Tiered “issue” response process insures you receive rapid attention.
  • We stock key spare parts at your site to minimize the chance anyone is waiting for a part.
  • We certify and train operators and back-up operators on all shifts; we re-train any new operators.

A Decline in the Amount of Solvent Yielded From the Process

As with any piece of equipment, as solvent distillation systems age, without proper maintenance and investment, their performance declines. The result is a 1-2% yield decline per year of operation which accelerates in years 5+ (machines that are 5 years old and older typically lose 3-5% in yield per year). Yield loss has a huge impact on the economics of the system. For our typical customer, a 5% loss represents $25,000-$50,000 in annual lost value. Obscuring this effect, almost none of the operations we encounter actively track the yield and performance of their solvent distillation equipment. How is the process doing? Who knows? There is very little awareness of the appropriate (or target) yield, the current yield, and the consequence of the inevitable loss.

The CleanPlanet solution to yield loss:

  • PrecisionDistillation – dynamically controlled distillation process utilizes 70 independent sensors and advanced control algorithms to maximize efficiency and output.
  • 24/7 monitoring allows us to “look into” and continuously optimize our units.
  • VMX Vapor Management System prevents the loss of solvents in the recovery process and protects operators from solvent vapors.
  • If an issue exists, we proactively manage it before it becomes a problem.
  • We provide all preventative and other maintenance to keep the machines in peak condition.
  • CleanPlanet is aligned with you to maximize yield (the fewer gallons that are processed, the less we bill).

Substitution of Virgin Solvent for Recycled Solvent

When line operations don’t trust the recycled product, they don’t use it – substituting instead high cost virgin solvent. Whether it is because the recycled product has a “funky” odor, is perpetually tinted, or just doesn’t seem to clean as well, operators often ignore recycled material. It is not uncommon for us to discover that facilities are paying both to recycle their solvents AND dispose of the recycled product. Surprisingly often, the left hand doesn’t coordinate with the right-hand and recycled material accumulates. The evidence If most facilities that recycle watch closely enough, they will observe waste shipments of cleaning solvent from time to time.

How can it be that there is waste to ship if you have a solvent recovery operation? Because the recycled material is going unused. The cost of this is significant. Substituting as little as 5 gallons of virgin solvent a day will cost the typical facility $10,000-$15,000 per year. Many facilities that we see substitute much more than 5 gallons per day across their entire operation.

The CleanPlanet solution to poor solvent quality:

  • PrecisionDistillation technology with advanced process control algorithms ensures a “re-refined” product that further removes impurities and is often better than virgin.
  • Internal quality-control: Electronic Colorimeter validates that any product produced is crystal clear. If any contamination is detected, the material is internally re-routed for reprocessing.
  • Constant monitoring and optimization to ensure peak performance.


CleanPlanet partners with its customers to plug the value leaks. Solvent distillation isn’t your top priority. But it is ours. We’ve designed the next generation of solvent recycling equipment to plug the value leaks. With our solvent distillation service we take responsibility for equipment maintenance, and we partner with you to bring visibility to the operation and to help manage the process.

Learn how to get even more value out of your solvent waste.  

Learn how to get even more value out of your solvent waste.  

AlwaysClean 350 smart solvent recycler

Begin to reduce solvent costs, waste, and liabilities the modern way!


Begin to reduce costs, waste and liabilities the modern way.


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