Imagine the reaction if dirty or fragile surfaces could be cleaned without the need for chemical products. Not only would it be better for the environment, think of the cost savings that could be made by doing away with all those expensive cleaning products. Until now, tough dirt, stains and gunge could only be removed by using soap, disinfectant, bleach, ammonia, hot pressurized water, and the like. But we may be coming to the end of using such high-cost chemical products thanks to a new technology called StarStream.
StarStream is a system that allows the cleaning of metal and glass surfaces, as well as organic fabrics, with just a gentle stream of cold water. And we are talking about cleaning encrusted dirt here, from paint to oxides, spatter and slime, all of which has traditionally been removed through the use of chemical products, solvents and pressurized water and now can be eliminated with a simple jet from a hose.
“Clean metal, glass and biological tissues with a gentle stream of cold water”
Cavitation, the secret of StarStream technology
The phenomenon of cavitation is the mechanism that converts a simple jet of water into a powerful and sustainable cleaner, with disinfectant properties to boot. In passing water through a nozzle that generates ultrasound and bubbles, sharp changes in the pressure of the water are induced, simultaneously generating bubbles and shock waves. These shock waves mechanically remove any dirt in front of them, whether it is on fabric, metal or glass surfaces.
The process is highly efficient in difficultly accessed areas, where other conventional cleaning technologies yield poor results, such as in grooves or cracks. In such situations, the StarStream method reduces virtually to zero the need to use chemical additives or heat water, saving energy in the process.
Multiple applications in different fields
Since engineers at the University of Southampton developed StarStream, the technology has been tested successfully in street cleaning, healthcare and the railway industry. One example is the paste made by leaves crushed onto rails by trains, which can now be removed with cold water alone. This is important, since the slippy coating of the leaves on the rails results in trains having to slow down to run safely, causing losses calculated to be in the order of millions of euros.
A company, Ultrawave, is now commercializing a prototype in the bio-sanitary sector and hopes to sell 50,000 units. Applications are only just being discovered for the technology, however, and it is probable that many sectors will in time be interested in the device, allowing them to say a definitive goodbye to the use of chemical products in all kinds of cleaning operations.