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What is Dry Ice Blasting?

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  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Dry ice blasting is an industrial cleaning method that uses abrasive spray from wand, hose, and cabinet equipment, which accelerates dry ice particles with compressed air to remove unwanted surface pollutants. Dry ice is carbon dioxide (CO2) frozen into pellets. The ice pellets explode on impact, getting behind layers of contaminants, and then convert to gas. This lifts off the contaminants, while the gas disperses harmlessly into the atmosphere. Dry ice, or CO2 blasting, has become a popular solution in industries from high tech to manufacturing and food.

Numerous benefits come with the use of dry ice blasting. This portable technique can save time due to reductions in the breakdown and assembly of equipment and avoidance of excess waste removal that characterizes other cleaning techniques, like sandblasting. It provides fast and thorough cleaning while reducing damage to surfaces. Intensity can be calibrated from light touch-ups to extremely powerful projects; for example, dusting off burn damage from books or welding slag from tooling.

Abrasive blasting with dry ice can be safer for the environment and human exposure, requiring no toxic solvents to achieve thorough cleaning, even where scrubbing tools cannot reach. Labor costs can be reduced because cleaning projects may be pared from days to hours. Transfer costs may be reduced or eliminated.

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Carbon dioxide presents numerous advantages over traditional blasting media. An inexpensive, non-toxic liquefied gas, CO2 is easy to store, and it can even be created at work sites. Dry ice blasting provides a non-abrasive, non-conductive, and nonflammable cleaning medium that does no damage to electrical equipment. It can remove numerous common industrial contaminants such as spills, release agents, and residues, or oils and paints. Food industries have embraced this method, and dry ice pellets are available that have been made from food-grade CO2.

The technique of dry ice blasting involves a three-step process: energy transfer, micro-thermal shock, and gas pressure. Energy transfer conducts dry ice pellets from a spray wand with compressed air at supersonic speed. At a temperature of -109°F (-78.3°C), the pellets create a microthermal shock between the substrate and contaminant. The contaminant breaks apart and delaminates the surface. The pellet explodes on impact and warms to a gaseous state, which expands beneath the residue; the pollutant falls away and the gas dissipates harmlessly into the air, leaving only the unwanted material for faster cleanup.

Certified technicians or contractors provide trained dry ice blasting services on location. The CO2 provides rapid, non-toxic, and non-damaging cleaning with the same material used in carbonated drinks. The non-abrasive technique can be used on electrical and rubberized components, equipment, heavy machinery building structures, and more. With the elimination of demanding physical labor, toxic solvents, and secondary waste, abrasive blasting with dry ice can provide industries with a cost-effective cleaning method that can enhance productivity, employee safety, and product quality.

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