Ship's Laundry Going Green
The January 2012 NAVSUP: Command Science Advisor Newsletter featured a lead story about the use of ozone in shipboard laundry systems.
"Providing hygienically safe laundry on board ship has been a concern for decades. With hundreds of sailors' clothing and linen being processed together in the industrial environment of a ship's laundry, ensuring bacteria and micro organisms are removed is a priority. In days of old, harsh chemicals and high heat would be used to remove oils, stains, and kill any embedded bacteria. Harsh chemicals and high temperatures can be destructive to fabrics, and result in degradation of uniform appearance, shortened garment life, and high lint production.
NAVSUP/NEXCOM has been at the forefront of shipboard laundry operations, spearheading technology improvements, process revisions, and innovative equipment designs to provide a high quality product for our sailors at sea. Improving the laundering process directly affects the quality of life at sea. In the early 1990's the Standard Navy Wash Formula was changed, with NAVMED concurrence, to permit lowering the water temperature during wash cycles. In the mid and late 1990's, chemical usage was completely revised to eliminate powdered chemicals and the inherent airborne hazards associated with them. As a result, chemical addition transitioned to automatic encapsulated systems, using more earth friendly chemicals.
Most recently, the use of injected ozone (O3) into the wash water has been tested, developed, and prototyped aboard ship. Ozone has been used for over 20 years in waste water treatment, and in the past 10 years has migrated into commercial laundry applications. Ozone is highly reactive on a molecular level, is effective in cold water, and has been shown to kill very resistive bacteria and virus strains. A NAVSUP Log R&D project, "Ozone Assisted Laundering" provided funding to research, test, and develop ozone capability for shipboard washer-extractors.
NEXCOM worked with equipment manufacturers, the Navy Clothing & Textile Research Facility (NCTRF), and independent civilian test labs to create a shipboard compatible ozone delivery system and test its effectiveness, both in the controlled environment of a lab and in real world use aboard ship. The ozone system works to create activated oxygen through exposure of ambient room air to ultra violet light frequencies in specially designed power cells. Through the use of ozone injection during wash cycles, wash temperatures can be further lowered.
Ozone interaction eliminates bacteria and micro-organisms while also allowing lower operating temperatures in the dryers, thus reducing heat degradation of fabrics and increasing the wear life of uniform items. An ozone capable ship requires less hot water, so less fuel is consumed in heating water.
Ozone is a cleansing and sanitizing agent; therefore, a ship using ozone laundering has a significant reduction in the need for laundry chemicals and the subsequent discharge of products overboard. Ozone technology is increasing the earth-friendly aspect of shipboard laundering and moving navy laundries towards a "greener" process. Good for the sailor… good for the ship… good for the earth!"