Recent Projects

Recent Air Events & Activities

Automotive Refinishing

Most common liquids that evaporate and have an odor contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are present in your cleaners and in your paints, whether you use traditional solvent-based paint or water-borne paints. VOCs are a large group of solvents and chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, are transformed into ground-level ozone which is a component of smog and is a harmful air pollutant.

The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) has worked to improve Minnesota’s air quality. One effort is helping businesses reduce solvents used for painting while still maintaining effectiveness and not increasing costs.

Degreasing & Vehicle Maintenance

Most common liquids that evaporate and have an odor contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a large group of solvents and chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, are transformed into ground-level ozone which is a component of smog and is a harmful air pollutant.

The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) has worked to improve Minnesota’s air quality. Two EPA sponsored project have been completed to help businesses reduce solvents used for degreasing while still maintaining effectiveness and not increasing costs.  More on selecting safer products can be found on the Selecting Solvents page, including a list of the Safer Products that were evaluated.  This methodology was

“Safer Products That Work” was a 2014-16 effort to demonstrate the use of lower hazard degreasing solvents at industrial and automotive sites. 39 companies received technical assistance, resulting in annual reductions of 3,030 lbs VOCs, 760 lbs HAPs and $7500 in cost savings.  Details of this project, and in depth explanation of how products were evaluated can be viewed in a recorded webinar on the MnTAP You Tube channel.

“Implementation of Safer Products in Duluth” was a 2016-17 effort that targeted the St. Louis Corridor area in Duluth.  This area has environmental justice issues and has been identified as an EPA Making a Visible Difference community.  Given that a typical repair shop can easily generate 200 lbs of VOCs/year from using brake cleaners, the approach to this project was to engage automotive repair shop in a quick assessment of their brake cleaners, and leave behind samples with a voucher redeemable for a full case of a safer alternative with up to 90% lower VOCs.  In a two day concentrated effort, MnTAP staff visited more than 50 automotive shops, left 31 with samples of safer alternatives and had 9 businesses implement safer alternatives leading to an annual reductions of 1,480 lbs of VOCs and 440 lbs of HAPs.

Industrial Painting

Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are compounds of carbon that evaporate into the air and react with NOx and sunlight to form low-level ozone, also known as smog.  While ozone in the upper atmosphere is beneficial to the earth and protects it, in the lower atmosphere, ozone is a harmful pollutant, and can cause chest pains, shortness of breath, and fatigue.  Reducing VOC emissions is the most effective way to reduce low level ozone. Furthermore, lower ozone standards in the future would introduce new and costly VOC regulations in Minnesota; making changes now keeps businesses moving forward.

VOCs are found in most liquid paints and coatings. MnTAP has reduced VOC emissions from these sources by providing information and technical assistance with voluntary measures that industrial painters and coaters can take to reduce VOCs without the burden of regulation.

Fiber Reinforced Plastics – E3 in FRP Project & E3 in Painting

With support from an MPCA Pollution Prevention grant, the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is conducting a program to bring E3 to Minnesota’s Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP) industry and Painting industry. These are important manufacturing sectors in Minnesota and ideal industries for E3 assistance.

E3 stands for Economy, Energy, and Environment. It’s a program that combines Lean tools with energy and waste assessments to maximize efficiency in all areas and help business be more competitive.

E3 projects were wrapped up at 3 companies in 2016.  One company did 5 full day training workshops to create their own lean team, while the other two companies did a value stream mapping event, followed by a kaizen event to identify and implement changes right away.  The final results of this project demonstrated that companies eliminated 223,000 lb solid waste, 19,000 lb hazardous waste, 4,200 lb air emissions (styrene) from 34,000 lb resin and were able to find $125,000 savings.

MnTAP has a number of current programs to help businesses and targeted industries voluntarily reduce VOC emissions in a cost effective fashion. Keep an eye on this page for the latest training dates and project updates.

Industrial & Vehicle Maintenance Degreasing

Pilot projects will provide FREE product samples to help identify effective lower VOC degreasing products, and technical support to make sure the new products meet all process needs!

For more information, or if you are interested in participating in a pilot project contact

Michelle GageAssociate Engineer
612-624-4619 | mcgage@umn.edu