As industries commit to the transition to carbon zero, there's no shortage of work tasks that need disruption. Take cleaning. While green cleaning has been available to home consumers for many years, it's a different story in the industrial space.
But now one German company, Intelligent Fluids, is helping companies transition away from traditional cleaning agents laden with harsh chemicals, thereby prioritising the well-being of both human health and the environment.
I spoke to Christian Roemlein, the CEO of Intelligent Fluids, to learn more.
Intelligent Fluids was founded in Leipzig, Germany, in 2017. It has developed sustainable high-performance cleaning fluids that replace aggressive solvents and harmful and hazardous cleaning chemicals in applications such as the removal of dirt, grease, oil, adhesives, varnish, paint and coating removal in industries such as microelectronics, oil and gas, chemistry, and printing.
Instead, the products are non-flammable, pH-neutral, non-toxic, and dermatologically tested.
"We call ourselves green impact chemistry. We aim to replace globally aggressive solvents across multiple industries."
We have the aggressiveness of baby shampoo with an inventor mindset — you can even wash your hands with our products.”
Green cleaning offers a long-term competitive advantage to companies that up until now, have been unable to match the efficacy of harsh chemicals.
Roemlein shared, "Up until now, the challenge was that no green material could match the performance of aggressive chemicals."
Intelligent Fluids solution is based on new bio-scientific technology that physically removes any organic contaminant through the combination of gentle ingredients to create tailor-made phase fluids that effectively and gently remove impurities.
These combinations work due to the physical movement — a love-and-hate effect – of various hydrophobic and hydrophilic fluids.
Water combines organic oils, fats, surfactants, and activators to create friendly dynamic phase fluids. The combination of the particles within these fluids attracts and repels each other in motion, dislodging anything from grease to dirt or nanocross photo-resistant layers on semiconductor wafers.
"To make a long story short, the fluid can easily enter and go into a layer to be removed. It's a little bit like a jackhammer effect that we go in, but once we reach the substrate, which is usually inorganic — think glass, stone, metal, plastics, etc.
Then, we undercut the layer completely by this movement and create a kind of micro-earthquake. By doing that, we can lift off layers physically instead of chemically dissolving them. And that's the USP of an intelligent fluid."
One of the company's key advantages lies in its combinatorial innovation, offering a staggering 72 billion possibilities based on the materials targeted for cleaning.
In contrast to enterprises dedicated to individual chemical cleaning agents such as NMP and acetone, the company's blending of various natural materials ensures the ideal composition for each specific cleaning task.
Further, there's a significant energy reduction, as Roemlein explained:
"We can proceed at room temperature, reducing energy costs by two-thirds in various industries."
While Intelligent Fluids uses more ingredients in a product than single-ingredient cleaning, it uses fewer materials than flammable products like acetone, with more straightforward waste disposal, meaning less impact on water ecosystems.
The company's clients include Heidelberger Druck, Würth Group, Infineon, and Osram.
It has won various awards, including the Global Green Product Award 2021 (out of over 50,000 competitors), and the European Business Hero Award for Sustainability 2022.
In March, the company raised a successful €10 million Series A financing round, bringing the company's funding to around €30 million.
This month, the company launched various consumer products on its website and Amazon, including glass cleaner, stain remover, and car cleaner.
And it's just the beginning as Intelligent Fluids expands its product offerings and enters new markets.
Lead image: A wafer being lifted out of a transport box (with a spin coater on the right) via Intelligent Fluids. Photo: Uncredited.