Organic Acid Cleaning of Irons and Steels

Organic acids are presently used in a variety of metal cleaning applications. Primary organic acids used in metal cleaning include acetic acid, citric acid, ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), formic acid, gluconic acid, and hydroxyacetic acid. Depending on the application, acids may be used alone, but often are formulated with bases and other additives. Organic acids often replace mineral acids, such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, in many metal cleaning applications. Advantages in using organic acids include:

• Efficiency in removing certain metal oxides

• Low corrosivity to base metal

• Safety and ease of handling

• Ease of disposal

Disadvantages of organic acids include longer cleaning times, higher temperature requirements, and higher costs compared to other cleaning operations.

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