Engine Cleaning Technology

    • ss bucknell engine cleaning technology

Bruce Tassone joined Engine Cleaning Technology as a project manager in 1985, a year after the company was formed. He became CEO after buying the company in 1996, and under his guidance, ECT has evolved to address the sophisticated maintenance and cleaning demands of the aviation industry.  Bruce has continually looked for opportunities to expand the company’s product portfolio to new markets.  ECT was interested in entering new markets to augment its focus on the gas turbine segment in order to avoid the cyclical downturns tied to the oil and gas industry, which had begun to erode the in-service, running wash, cleaning business since early 2000. 

Several of ECT’s products that had been on the market for twenty years served as a starting point for development, but research was needed to better understand their properties and performance.  As a small business, ECT did not have critical new product development resources such as analytical tools and technicians.  Tassone first learned of the specialty Engineering Development Services offered by Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through work with the Wharton SBDC

Tassone first approached the Bucknell SBDC for help in investigating these new products and applications back in 2009.  Through the capabilities of Bucknell’s College of Engineering, student consultants performed thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) on ECT’s products.  This research study assessed their stability when exposed to a wide range of temperatures - a key characteristic to understand when operating turbomachinery that runs at extreme temperatures.  The next step was to investigate the efficacy of two cleaners when applied to stainless steel surfaces such as those in medical implants.  This imagery took advantage of the SBDC’s access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) for a visual comparison of surface cleanliness.

Using the test data from the TGA and solvent studies generated by Bucknell, ECT has been able to 1) focus their sales effort to reintroduce their running wash product R-MC and 2) concurrently improve the formulation of their PowerBack product while lowering  its manufacturing cost. This has directly resulted in $20-30k yearly sales increases, the retention of one manufacturing job, and saved ECT $3-5k per year in cost of goods sold.

In addition, while the medical product cleaning application was not used in the medical field, the product was rebranded and introduced as a degreaser, KE4095.  Sales increased by nearly $10k, which allowed ECT to keep an additional employee on staff.  ECT sees the growth of this product to continue on the magnitude of $5-10/year.  It is currently being used by the military to clean armaments and has also been trialed by gas turbine OEMs and overhaulers as a shop degreaser.  Ultimately, ECT sees the product contributing an incremental $50-100k in sales at a gross margin of nearly 50 percent.