No rust in the kitchen ! Print
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afwasmachineTowards a more Rational use of Materials

From an array of advertising brochures to leaflets of local clubs: even though we put all sort of warning stickers on our mailboxes, they still get crammed with messages that are useless to us. But I must admit that I’ve come to appreciate the magazines of my energy supplier, my distribution system operator and my water supply company.

Rational use of energy and durable water management are terms that I carry with me in my heart and I feel they should get even more attention. It will benefit our wallets, our environment and future generations.

But why don’t we apply the same principles to the manner in which we use materials? We need to look no further than the kitchen. Stainless steel pots and pans, cutlery, the inside of our dishwashers, etc. These are all common goods, and yet by some they’re not properly taken care of. Cue the shouts and complaints about “rust”. And yet, there is a simple rule you can adhere to, in order to avoid corrosion: keep it dry. In other words: after using your stainless steel cutlery, clean it immediately, dry all nooks and crannies and store it in a dry location. A practical tip: no matter how expensive or sophisticated your dishwasher, your cutlery does NOT come out dry. As soon as you open the lid, vapor settles on your dishes. Drying them off with a kitchen towel is very much encouraged. Another tip: do NOT store stainless steel cutlery in cupboards or next to the fume hood. When your food is on the stove some vapor will still escape on both sides of your fume hood, no matter how well you think it works. If you store stainless steel cutlery in an adjoining cupboard, the water vapor will settle onto the cold surfaces. And yet another kitchen tip: for the exact same reason, don’t store dry foods on top of or to the right of left of your fume hood.

Keeping things dry is the first rule when it comes to battling corrosion, but you’ll have a hard time trying to keep your boiler, your water pipes or your garden lamp posts dry. The same thing is true in industrial settings: many industrial appliances come into contact with water and steam fractions during operation. No energy without water, for example. How can we stop corrosion in these sorts of situations? By rationally handling the materials. The use of all sorts of water treatment methods, the correct pressure and temperature, competently checking these and other parameters, adopting a proper purification procedure and applying said procedure without exception: these are all ways in which you can keep the material intact without having to process it into the waste stream. Let’s return to the kitchen: scrubbing a stainless steel pot with a steel or copper brush is a definite no-no; you wouldn’t use a scouring pad on a Teflon pot, would you?

Waste management is not just about the energy-conscious producing and recycling of materials, but also about drastically reducing the waste stream by Rational Use of Materials (RUM), by taking proper care of the materials we already have at our disposal. By making sure that the existing materials remain intact, not necessarily at all costs, but within the limits for which they were originally produced. This stands true for your own kitchen, for the industry sector and for the government.

A more rational use of energy, more durable water management, AND “more Rational Use of Materials”. Future generations will thank us for it.


Frans Vos

General Manager Materials Consult bvba

Visiting professor Corrosion and Erosion prevention, University of Leuven