X-Ray Film Processing Recycling Units (2004)

Published: March 29, 2004

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Processing Film
Large-scale X-ray film processing (developing) with current technologies uses large amounts of
water to rinse chemicals from the film and to cool the processing equipment20. X-ray film
processing in medical applications represents a significant opportunity for new technologies to
reduce or eliminate water use. One of those technologies is the application of water recycling to
the process equipment.
Medical Applications

X-ray film processors are used throughout the medical industry by doctors, hospitals, imaging
centers, health and medical clinics, chiropractors and veterinarians. Processing equipment comes
in a variety of sizes to suit the individual needs of the practitioners.
The largest user of processors is hospitals. Most hospitals in the U.S. have a number of medical
x-ray film processors operating 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The larger hospitals may
possess over a dozen of these units. Processors generally use a constant flow of water to cool the
machine and develop the film. Published flow rates for this equipment range from as little as
0.25 to as high as 2.5-gallons per minute (gpm)21 of fresh water, all of which is directed to drain.
Most smaller facilities (such as those found in doctors’ offices) use processors that do not
operate in a constant flow mode, use very small amounts of water, and are not considered within
this analysis.

In the mid-1990s, C&A X-Ray developed a water recycling! process and system that captured the
water in the larger processors and recirculated it back through the !unit. Consisting of a small
reservoir, a pump, and an algaecide dispenser, the Water Saver/Plus™ (patented by C&A X-Ray)
is being marketed entirely to the medical sector, although other industrial x-ray applications do

Conversion to Digital Technology
The use of film processors in the medical sector is gradually declining, as new digital imaging
technology for radiography becomes cost-effective and gains presence in the market. Digital
technology will eventually provide better images at lower cost than X-ray films

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