Tanner Volek – Hansen Parameters and Surprising Findings

Would society be better served if more young people went to trade school instead of college? Not necessarily! Tanner Volek, and the world of manufacturing, is benefiting from a practical, applied college education. Tanner has been looking at solvency (does the cleaning agent dissolve the soil?) and powerful cleaning techniques to remove soils from fine tubing.

Tanner Volek is a student in the Cleaning Research Group at Sam Houston State University. Tanner was born in San Antonio and grew up in Texas. After high school, he wasn’t sure about going to college – he had a good job that he enjoyed. A friend persuaded him to apply. Once he began his general chemistry course, he switched his major from biology to chemistry, and then met Professor Darren Williams a co-organizer of Product Quality Cleaning Workshops (PQCW).

In preparing for exercises and demonstrations for PQCW, Tanner explains that he “worked on applying Hansen solubility parameters of different solvents to cleaning. Understanding Hansen parameters is relevant to manufacturers.” Hansen parameters use three attributes of solvents to indicate which solvents and solvent blends will be effective in removing soils. They can also be used to indicate which solvents are less likely to damage product surfaces. Using the properties of Hansen parameters allows manufacturers to take some of the guess-work out of solvent selection. As Tanner explains, “why waste your money on solvents that don’t clean as well?”

Testing cleaning processes can yield surprises. Because he had been testing organic solvent cleaning, Tanner discovered that “one thing that was surprising was pulling soils out of capillary tubes with water and vacuum cavitation.” For additional information, please see “Nethmini Ariyarathna – Vacuum Cycle Cavitation Cleaning” on the “Manufacturing Minds – PQCW” site. He adds that “for certain applications, we needed surfactant even with the vacuum cavitation to access the capillary tubes.”

What’s next? When asked about his career goals, Tanner explains “I’m not really sure what I want to do. I enjoy tutoring; I want to become a professor. I’ll probably go to grad school. I guess I’ll go for a PhD. I think I’d like to get experience in manufacturing. If I like working in industry, I’ll stay there.” Maybe it’s good to be a little undecided, to keep your options open. I myself expect that Tanner will have a productive career either in industry or in the world of academia. It would be terrific if he decides to forge a career that encompasses both worlds.

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