Dry Ice Blasting

What are the benefits of Dry Ice Blasting?

Recent advances in technology have made dry ice blasting an increasingly practical and affordable alternative to many traditional cleaning methods, especially any labor intensive cleaning tasks or solvent-based operations.

Dry ice blasting can be used in a wide variety of applications ranging from sensitive cleaning situations, like removing flux from electronic circuit boards, to heavy sanitation jobs, like removing slag from automotive assembly rails.

Dry ice blasting has a wide range of applications in food processing, plastics and molded products industries, automotive, printing, aerospace, contract cleaning, general maintenance, and many other industries. Listed below are the primary benefits of cleaning with dry ice:

• Faster & More Effective
Compared to manual cleaning with solvents and a wire brush, dry ice blasting can cut cleaning time, leading to reduced costs. With dry ice blasting, you can clean your equipment, molds, and dies on line and “in place.” There is no longer any need to disassemble, mask, and then reassemble large complex machinery. Downtime is minimized, labor costs are reduced, and productivity increased.

• A Dry Process
Since dry ice sublimates (turns directly into carbon dioxide gas – no liquid generation) upon contact, the process is dry. Dry ice blasting is non-conductive and safe for electrical applications where using water may not be advisable or permitted.

• No Media or Chemcial Waste
Sometimes the “clean-up” from your current cleaning method is worse than the cleaning itself. Dry ice solves that problem by eliminating secondary waste. Dry ice pellets do the job and simply disappear, eliminating the disposal costs associated with other materials.

• Non-Abrasive
The non-abrasive nature of dry ice means that cleaning won’t damage sensitive parts or production equipment, extending the useful life of equipment and minimizing the chances of defective products.

• Environmentally Friendly & Safe
Dry ice cleaning is a “green” process that uses small pellets of recycled carbon dioxide to clean a surface. The pellets sublimate (turning from solid directly to gas) during the cleaning process. The carbon dioxide gas is absorbed by trees and plants and converted into carbon (plant growth) and oxygen. Dry ice blasting is really “green” recycling at its best.

Dry ice blasting does not contribute to greenhouse gasses and no hazardous wastes are produced. With basic safety precautions, the work process is safe. No ozone-depleting chemicals are used and there is no exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).

Utilizing dry ice blasting can help companies achieve Sustainability Objectives.

Dry Ice Blasting FAQs

1How does Dry Ice Blasting work?

Dry ice blasting is a process whereby kinetic and thermal energy is transferred when the accelerated dry ice pellets strike the surface being cleaned. Dry ice and air combine to remove the unwanted material and leave a clean surface free of any contaminant.

  • Kinetic
    Dry ice pellets are accelerated by compressed air to high speeds – fracturing the top layer of dirt/residue.
  • Thermal
    Once the dry ice penetrates the dirt/residue, the temperature of both the dirt/residue layer and the substrate decreases. The different materials contract unequally and the adherence between them decreases. This thermal difference helps to separate the dirt/residue from the substrate.
  • Sublimation
    After the dry ice makes its initial impact, it instantaneously turns from a solid to a gas. The volume expansion (by a factor of 700) causes a micro explosion that detaches the dirt/residue from the substrate.
  • Post Blasting
    The substrate is clean, dry and completely intact.
2Is it true that Dry Ice Blasting doesn’t require any clean-up afterwards?
No – any contaminants which are removed during the Dry Ice blasting process need to be contained and disposed of properly.
3I’ve heard no containment is needed if Dry Ice blasting?
Containment is always job specific. Certain jobs do not require containment, no matter what method is used. However, “containing” dry ice can be more difficult than other methods. Because no dust is generated, a containment breach can go unnoticed for hours, whereas when blasting with any other abrasive, a breach is instantly noticed due to the dust that escapes.
4Can Dry Ice absorb odors like Soda can?
No. Only Baking Soda deodorizes the surrounding indoor environment. This is especially important when doing fire restoration work, as you want the soda dust to travel where the smoke went in order to completely eliminate any trace odors. When doing a fire job with Dry Ice, the end result may look the same, but it will not smell the same.
5How is Dry Ice handled?
Very carefully. Special PPE is required when filling the pressure vessel with Dry Ice (Soda or Glass can be handled with bare hands, and does not require special PPE when filling the pot, etc.)
6Does Dry Ice cause damage to soft substrates?
Yes. Dry Ice, although not technically harder than Baking Soda, will cause surface damage to wood structures because of the high velocity it requires in order to work effectively. Dry Ice can also cause an exothermic reaction on “layered” substrates, causing failure or damage. For example, printing rollers found on printing presses should never be blasted with Dry Ice, as the Ceramic top coat of the roller will “peel away” from the steel core it is bonded to when subjected to severe temperature changes.
7Is Dry Ice suitable for confined spaces and hard to reach areas?
Dry Ice literally sucks the oxygen out of any enclosed space, so wearing a proper tethered hood system is a must. For semi-ventilated areas, an oxygen level monitor is usually needed.
8Is Dry Ice more productive than Soda Blasting?
No. On a per square foot basis, coverage rates are about the same for both methods. However, Dry Ice blast hoses are shorter in length – usually only 40’ long (compared to up to 200’ for Soda Blasting). The short Dry Ice Blast hose is necessary to prevent further melting of the material, and also minimizes the freezing effect. The short hose also means more time is spent moving equipment around vs. time spent blasting. Lastly, most dry ice blasters we speak to confirm they are more fatigued at the end of the day when compared to other blasting methods.

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