top of page

Sustainable Alternatives to Solvent-Based Cleaning in the Rail Industry

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

For more than 35 years BIO-CIRCLE has been using a combination of technology, chemistry, biology and service to optimise cleaning processes, lower environmental impact and increase the health and wellbeing of users with their range of parts washers, cleaning systems and liquids.

BIO-CIRCLE transforms the ‘old way of doing things’ into efficient, streamlined processes that are cost and carbon conscious. Leading the way on environmental awareness, the company introduced environmental management early on in 1996 with ISO 14001 - currently certified by Lloyd's Register Deutschland GmbH. BIO-CIRCLE has also been audited by EcoVadis since 2019. EcoVadis is an assessment platform for evaluating corporate social responsibility and sustainable procurement, and many companies choose to work with EcoVadis to improve the sustainability of their global supply chain. BIO-CIRCLE’s ethos is to think holistically and act sustainably, and so the entire life cycle is considered in the development of their cleaning systems and liquids, and passed directly on to their customers.

In production - BIO-CIRCLE uses sustainable raw materials where possible and generates most of the energy required for production in-house from a number of green sources - a photovaltic system at the production site in Germany, hydroelectric power, wind and solar energy, biomass and geothermal energy along with plastics from recycled PET, that are also recyclable.

In application - BIO-CIRCLE cleaning liquids are packed with sustainable credentials:

  • VOC-free or VOC-reduced, yet powerful cleaning and a direct substitute for solvents, which hugely contribute to indoor and outdoor air pollution. BIO-CIRCLE liquids contain micro-organisms that break down grease and oil via bio-remediation - a natural process that does not emit high levels of VOCs.

  • Water-based and free from hazardous chemicals - BIO-CIRCLE liquids do not contain any substances from the current EChA Candidate List of Substances (REACh).

  • No labelling required under the CLP Regulations which hugely reduces or completely eliminate the waste chain, specialist training and having to meet compliance requirements.

  • Do not contain any chelating agents, so deposits of strong chemical compounds that may endanger the environment are avoided. Instead, renewable surfactants with a high and fast biodegradability of plant origin are used.

  • Energy efficient - a number of BIO-CIRCLE cleaning liquids work optimally at low temperatures.

In disposal - Waste reduction and prevention play an important role in waste disposal. BIO-CIRCLE cleaning systems are designed as recirculation systems, which guarantees a longer service life of the cleaner, reducing or entirely eliminating waste and saving resources.

Case study snapshots:

BIO-CIRCLE evaluate their customer's existing processes and then provide a bespoke set of systems and liquids to vastly improve them, for the lowest impact on the environment as possible, improved occupational safety whilst still maintaining cleaning efficiency.

1. Customer replaces corrosive cleaner with VOC-free cleaner to clean electric train motors

CLEANING APPLICATION: Removing grease, oil & brake dust from electric motors


THE PROBLEM WITH THIS: Health, safety & environmental issues. Hidden costs, especially in relation to compliance, storage and specialist disposal. Uneconomical and not energy efficient. High turnover of cleaner used.

BIO-CIRCLE CLEANING PROCESS: STAR FUTURE V manually applied with a foam applicator.

THE RESULT: Assisted meeting decarbonisation goals as STAR FUTURE V is VOC-free and water-based.

2. Customer replaces bucket of solvent with BIO-CIRCLE automated Hot Wash system and VOC-FREE cleaner for a quicker, more efficient and decarbonised clean.

CLEANING APPLICATION: Removing grease, oil & dirt from small-medium sized parts, generally less than 50 cm wide, multi-material (carbon steel, aluminium).

EXISTING CLEANING PROCESS: Manual cleaning. Solvent in buckets is used and the parts are cleaned one by one with rags. Physical effort is required, with the operator standing in the same position for long periods of time. It takes 2-3 times longer to wash the same amount of parts. Solvent has a very high VOC content.

BIO-CIRCLE CLEANING PROCESS: Automatic cleaning in a HTW with ALUSTAR 100 a water-based degreaser diluted at 10%. The operator only has to spend 5-10 seconds to set the washing parameters and 1 minute to load the parts into the washer. The washing time is adjustable with 15 minutes proving suitable to wash 20-30 parts at a time, depending on the size of the parts. One load of liquid into the parts washer can last 3 months.

THE RESULT: Huge reduction of VOCs into the environment from the facility, along with an increase in productivity, safety, reduction in PPE costs and a better, more standardised cleaning result.

To arrange a site survey, please call 03300 415 396 or email

8 views0 comments


bottom of page