The TO-Clean Canister Cleaning System – 1st Impressions

It might seem odd that I am about to give my 1st impressions for a Restek Air product, which is not new to the product line. The fact of the matter is that I am new to the Restek Air product line. Now that I have put the TO-Clean through its paces, I thought I would give y’all (I did my postdoc in the south) my honest initial thoughts on the TO-Clean Canister Cleaning System.

First off, I love the fact that the TO-Clean allows for easy loading and unloading of canisters. Easy is a relative term, so it is important to know that prior to coming to Restek I used our competitor’s canister cleaning system, which worked well. BUT… the competitor’s system is smaller in overall dimensions (35” x 33” x 34” = 39,270 in³ vs. 27” x 37” x 44” = 43,956 in³), and therefore a royal pain in the “you know what” for getting canisters in and out of the unit. Especially when those puppies have not quite cooled down from 100 °C. In fact, if you want to access any of the back row canisters, you have to remove canister from the two forward rows (3 staggered rows in their system). Not to mention, you need to be a contortionist if you spring a leak on the connection for any of the back row canisters, and when it comes time to open/close the canister valves before and after cleaning. This is all a product of the staggered layout of the canister mounts, the smaller size, and the distribution of that smaller size found in the competitor’s system. So… the TO-Clean is sooooo much easier to load and unload, and I really appreciate that.

Now… with all that comfy room, you might be wondering how much space does the TO-Clean take up!? I have to be honest; my 1st impression was “damn… that thing is big”. Now I say “it is big in all the right places”. See, the TO-Clean may be larger in overall size, but the foot print (27” x 37” = 999 in²) is actually smaller than the competitor’s (35” x 33” = 1,155 in²). So how does the TO-Clean allow for such easy access to canisters??? Well, a lot of that is afforded by the higher overall height (34” vs. 44”). The rest comes from the relative reduction in length and increase in width (remember… all the right places).

So, once you have your canisters racked up and ready to clean… now onto operation. The TO-Clean has an on-board touch screen controller that I absolutely love! Right at the oven you can do your leak checks and method development/operation, with user-defined number of cycles, pressures, soak times, and temperatures. The unit allows you to store up to fifteen different methods. With the competitor’s system you need to have a PC set-up to operate the unit, which can be annoying when the PC is not right next to the oven. In my previous lab we used the same PC to control the GC-MS as the canister cleaning system, which was not next to the oven. So when it came time to leak check and operation, I was constantly running back and forth across the lab. Really annoying if you have a leak!!! Bottom line…  love the touch screen controller.Now on to vacuum, which I touched on in my most recent blog on the TO-Clean. I love the fact the TO-Clean uses only one pump, which does an excellent job at evacuating twelve 6 L canister down to 50 mtorr with no problem. The competitor unit I used had a 2-Stage Diaphragm Pump and a Molecular Drag Pump. One more pump, means one more thing to possibly break down, and I cannot imagine a Molecular Drag Pump is cheap to repair or replace. I know I can have an Edwards rough pump brought back from death for ~$500. So… I love the single Edwards pump on the TO-Clean.

Another item on the TO-Clean that I really appreciate is a large water reservoir for humidification (see picture below). The competitor’s system would allow for ~100 – 200 mL of water, which not to my surprise would barely humidify the air stream. I once used my EXTECH Hygro-Thermometer/ Datalogger (Model SDL500) to evaluate the relative humidity (RH) and got a dismal 12% RH on the competition. The TO-Clean can hold up to 1 L of water, and when just half full generates 60% RH (see picture below the picture below). Why am I making a deal about this… because the water vapor aids in the hydrolysis of compounds within the canister (this shall be addressed in a future blog with data), which helps facilitate cleaning.

The TO-Clean easily generates 60% RH, w/ just 1/2 liter of DI water. Water vapor aids in the cleaning of canisters via hydrolysis.

Bottom line… as you may have already concluded, my 1st impressions of the TO-Clean Canister Cleaning System are more than favorable. The system is well built; has tons of room for loading/un-loading canisters; easy-to-use controls; and ton of other features I really appreciate. But how does it work??? Well… keep an eye out for future blogs with some canister cleaning data you can chew on!

 

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