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HUGHES, LOS ALAMOS TO DEVELOP OZONE-FRIENDLY MANUFACTURING PROCESS

 HUGHES, LOS ALAMOS TO DEVELOP OZONE-FRIENDLY MANUFACTURING PROCESS
 PASADENA, Calif., May 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Hughes Aircraft Co. and Los Alamos National Laboratory will seek better ways to clean precision electronic, mechanical and optical components without ozone-depleting solvents under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) signed today.
 U.S. Energy Secretary James Watkins said the CRADA's goal is to improve a demonstrated cleaning process that reduces the need for solvents. The technology offers "tremendous potential benefits" to U.S. industry, particularly in aerospace, semiconductors, computers and other high-technology fields, Watkins said.
 "This is another example of how American industry can take advantage of the tremendous scientific and engineering resources in our national laboratories," he said. "This agreement will pay off both in pollution prevention and international competitiveness."
 The agreement was signed at the National Technology Initiative conference held at the California Institute of Technology. The CRADA is part of a multi-industry, multi-laboratory cooperative research program to develop environmentally sound processes for government and industry. Other major contributors to this Department of Energy program are Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, IBM, Boeing Aerospace and Electronics and Autoclave Engineers Group.
 The 14-month, $3,176,100 agreement is funded through the DOE Conservation and Renewable Energy Office's Industrial Waste Reduction Program.
 About a fifth of the world's annual production of 2.5 billion tons of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, is used for cleaning. President Bush has stepped up the U.S. deadline for eliminating CFCs to 1995 because of their catastrophic damage to the Earth's protective layer of stratospheric ozone.
 Hughes, Los Alamos and the other partners have developed techniques for using supercritical carbon dioxide instead of CFC-based solvents to remove particles as well as organic contaminants introduced during manufacturing of circuit boards, optical equipment and aerospace hardware.
 The food industry has used supercritical fluids for decades for processes such as removing caffeine from coffee. The flavor and fragrance industry also uses supercritical carbon dioxide to extract aromatic natural products for foods and cosmetics.
 Carbon dioxide becomes supercritical -- that is, it remains as a gas but has the properties of liquid organic solvents -- at relatively low pressures and temperatures. In a supercritical state, it is highly diffusive and its low surface tension allows it to penetrate into small spaces to dissolve residues completely from the complex surfaces of manufactured parts.
 Supercritical carbon dioxide is nontoxic and nonflammable and appears ideal for removing particulates and specific materials from delicate parts, such as removing cutting fluid from precision machine parts or removing photoresists from semiconductor chips.
 Once pressures are lowered, the residues removed during cleaning drop out and can be separated. The carbon dioxide then can be recycled.
 Some researchers believe supercritical carbon dioxide could replace up to a third of the roughly 170 million pounds of CFCs used annually in cleaning by U.S. manufacturers.
 "There is a critical and urgent need for environmentally safe nmanufacturing processes that will meet the standards of high quality demanded in aerospace products," said C. Michael Armstrong, Hughes chairman and chief executive officer.
 "This agreement we have signed today brings together the scientific talent and resources needed to meet this challenge by developing an environmentally safe technology that can be applied to both aerospace and commercial industries," he said.
 Hughes and Los Alamos plan to improve the methods by which supercritical fluids overcome the attractive forces that bind particles and other residue to a surface, thereby producing a cleaner surface. They also will design equipment for recycling supercritical fluids, which will remove contaminants from the carbon dioxide and reduce energy consumption significantly.
 New technology developed under the CRADA should provide components clean enough to meet rigid federal and industrial specifications.
 Other goals of the CRADA are to improve understanding of the nature of interactions of a wide variety of materials and contaminants with supercritical fluids and develop the different conditions needed for each application.
 The ultimate goal of the CRADA is to produce processes, systems and equipment useful in a broad range of cleaning applications, said Los Alamos Director Sig Hecker.
 "Everybody in industry and at the national laboratories wants to reduce their use of solvents," Hecker said. "This CRADA will give user companies such as Hughes ready access to technology that's designed around their cleaning problems, and will provide equipment manufacturers the basic information they need to design environmental sound cleaning machinery."
 Hughes and Autoclave Engineers Group collaborated on the first commercial-scale equipment incorporating supercritical cleaning technology. The first superScrub (tm) unit, installed at Hughes last November, already is qualified for cleaning defense hardware and, coupled with other measures, has led to a 30 percent overall reduction in CFC usage at Hughes.
 Hughes' initial research into supercritical cleaning technology as an ozone-friendly alternative was part of a project begun in 1989, co-sponsored by the Southern California Air Quality Management District, to investigate technologies for preventing air pollution in the aerospace electronics industry. Last month, the District presented Hughes with a 1992 Clean Air Award for the advancement of air pollution technology for its work on superScrub.
 Under the CRADA agreement, Los Alamos researchers will improve designs for supercritical carbon dioxide cleaning equipment and apply their expertise in characterization of materials to clean and test sample components provided by Hughes. Los Alamos research focused initially on using supercritical carbon dioxide to extract a wide variety of hazardous substances from soil and to clean weapons components.
 Drawing on their extensive experience in manufacturing, engineering, tooling and building prototypes, Hughes and Autoclave Engineers will expand their already strong cleaning program to produce a commercial version of the superScrub.
 Hughes, a unit of GM Hughes Electronics, is the world's leading defense electronics firm and an international supplier of commercial systems, including satellite telecommunications, air traffic control and automotive and industrial electronics. GM Hughes Electronics is a subsidiary of General Motors. Trading in Class H common stock of General Motors (NYSE: GMH) relates to the financial performance of GM Hughes Electronics.
 Los Alamos National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary research organization that applies science and technology to problems of national security ranging from defense to energy research. It is operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.
 -0- 5/29/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Knotts of Hughes, 310-616-1022, or Jim Danneskiold of Los Alamos, 505-667-7000/
 (GMH) CO: Hughes Aircraft Co. and Los Alamos National Laboratory ST: California IN: ARO SU:


AL-CH -- LA004 -- 5191 05/29/92 13:02 EDT
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