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CO2 Mechanics Blog

Practical knowledge, tools, tips and techniques for developing and implementing innovative CO2-enabled clean manufacturing processes, products, and production lines.

CO2 Backstory 1.3

Posted by David Jackson on Sep 1, 2020 11:00:35 AM
David Jackson
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CO2 Technology Development

Faster, Better and Cheaper

CO2 technology described in this blog-eBook represents more than 30 years of process, application, and commercial product development beginning in 1984 and continuing to the present day. The old adage – Necessity is the Mother of Invention – has been and continues to be a major driving force behind the CO2 technology innovation process. Discrete cleaning, surface modification, cooling, purification, and recycling technologies represent derivatives – various CO2-enabled solutions ideated, developed, and advanced to jointly solve production cleaning and contamination control problems encountered in numerous end-user manufacturing applications to achieve specific performance requirements. In this regard, rapid changes in manufacturing technology, shrinking product features, and increasing global competitiveness have driven the need for sustainable manufacturing technology - faster processing, better performance, and a lower cost of production.

In one example of the CO2 innovation process, significant improvements in CO2 immersion equipment design and process performance were needed to meet the production requirements to precision clean hundreds of pounds of oily screw-machined ball point pen tips in a single batch every 30 minutes. The result was a new CO2 immersion cleaning process (and benchmark) that cleaned to levels better than the current cleanliness specification with an 80% reduction in cleaning cost, and an increase in cleaning capacity of nearly 100% as compared to the previous solvent-based ultrasonic cleaning operation. Unknown to me at the time, the main impetus for changing from the solvent-based (PCE) cleaning process (besides the imminent PCE solvent phase-out) was due to many years of inadvertent perchloroethylene (PCE) cleaning solvent spillage and seepage into the water table below the facility. This led to a superfund clean-up lawsuit by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (CRWQB) against the company. In 2009, a $68 million settlement was reached between the new owners of the facility, the City of Santa Monica, and the CRWQB.

In another example, high performance and high productivity CO2 cleaning technology was needed to consistently and reliably precision clean hundreds of partially-assembled prime hard disk drive components in a single cleaning cell each hour, 17 hours per day, and 350 days per year. The result was a new CO2 spray cleaning process (and benchmark) that met required production capacity and cleanliness criteria, and 99%+ uptime requirement, but used only a fraction of the factory and Class 100 cleanroom floor space with a 50% to 80% reduction in cost-per-clean (CPC) as compared to the benchmark aqueous cleaning, rinsing, and drying operation. This achievement is described in a peer reviewed IEST paper entitled “Automated CO2 Composite Spray Cleaning System for HDD Rework Parts”.

On a more personal note, when I look back upon my CO2 career I am very thankful to the many individuals, companies, and learning opportunities. The body of work to be presented in this blog-eBook is in large part a result of these foundational experiences.  

My first (real) job was working for a small family-owned State-certified water testing laboratory as a college student. I was trained in a variety of standard wet chemical and instrumental testing methods including gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectrophotometry, microbiological testing, radiological testing, and fish toxicity bioassays. I started as a lab technician and a few years later became the laboratory manager. This experience introduced me to the many challenges and accountabilities of small business ownership. While working for Hughes Aircraft, I was trained as a precision cleaning and contamination control engineer and was exposed to numerous high tech manufacturing processes, programs, and precision cleaning and contamination control problems. My research and development work at Hughes not only encompassed CO2 technology, but also included development of an automated and on-line alcohol flush-clean and particle counting system to validate particle cleanliness of spacecraft propulsion fuel lines as well as development of novel reactive aqueous cleaning chemistries and processes [8-9]. This experience taught me to be creative and adaptive, and launched my lifelong passion and career in the CO2 technology development field. While moonlighting my first commercial CO2 venture, I worked as an environmental engineering consultant implementing wastewater treatment and waste minimization programs. I worked closely with various manufacturing companies to develop and implement cost- and performance-effective abatement and source control measures to comply with new EPA-mandated effluent treatment guidelines. This experience helped me to develop problem solving and project management skills.



  1. 1-8. U.S. Patent 5,196,134, D. Jackson, Peroxide Composition for Removing Organic Contaminants and Method of Using Same, March 23, 1993
  2. 1-9. U.S. Patent 5,269,850, D. Jackson, Method of Removing Organic Flux using Peroxide Compositions, December 14, 1993





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Topics: The CO2 Backstory