Aluminum HVAC components such as heat exchangers are always damp, and must be surface treated for corrosion protection, to facilitate water run-off, and to prevent growth and propagation of molds and noxious odors. The industry's record at achieving these essential aims has been checkered at best. What made it worse, the usual process for surface treating aluminum HVAC parts has been "chemical attack," using a yellow (hexavalent) chromium bath, which is itself environmentally hostile and very toxic.
Behr, about to build new plants to expand their automotive HVAC business into two new countries, began to experiment with alternative surface treatment approaches, in search of a process that would give better quality and be environmentally satisfactory. In fact, they, like the rest of the industry, were facing strict new EU regulations governing hexavalent chromium.
Their innovation is a process that operates in a totally different way, heating the work pieces to relatively high temperatures, and then spraying them with a non-toxic aqueous solution. The result is a better-perfoming surface quality, plus the process is now a totally closed-loop system, where the aqueous solution can be reused, resulting in a 90% energy saving, and virtually eliminating the prior effluent waste problem.
The result for Behr is a big head start with a new industry best-practice that exceeds impending EU regulations, while competition is still dependent upon non-compliant hexavalent chromium or compliant yet toxic treatments for aluminum. BehrOxal has allowed the company to start up two new HVAC lines with far less investment, lower operating costs, and industry new environmental best-practices, giving them an uncompromised future and competitive advantage.