by Kimberley Graham, Green Restoration Ambassador
Dry ice blasting technology is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective method for preparing, cleaning, and restoring surfaces. It works particularly well in removing deposits from metal surfaces. However, dry ice blasting technology can be effective on any material that is sensitive to changes in temperature, including varnishes, waxes, glues, paints, mold, oils, bitumen, plastics, foam, and soot, among other deposits. While dry ice has been available since 1925, the technique of dry ice blasting is a relatively new method that is rapidly gaining wider acceptance.
How does it work?
Dry ice pellets are made from frozen carbon dioxide (-102F, -79°C) which are blasted at high speed onto the surface. As the pellets hit the surface very fast, the unwanted deposits become brittle and can be removed easily. As the dry ice pellets are central to the technology, this cleaning and restoration technique is also sometimes known as ‘CO2 blasting’.
The Environmental and Other Benefits of Dry Ice Blasting Technology
Dry Ice Blasting Technology is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are numerous benefits for the environment of dry ice blasting technology, among other benefits. Below are just a few.
Carbon dioxide is a non-toxic, odourless gas most commonly used in the drinks industry, such as an additive in mineral water, for example. This means that dry ice blasting does not expose the user or work environment to harsh, corrosive solvents or toxic chemicals during the application. For this reason, dry ice blasting can be considered ecologically friendly. However, adequate ventilation may still necessary while using dry ice blasting technology as carbon dioxide is increasingly toxic at concentrations greater than 1%. Insulated gloves, eye and ear protection are also part of our standard safely equipment and protocols when dry-ice blasting.
Dry ice blasting does not use any water. This means dry ice blasting is not contributing to exacerbating water stress or over-exploitation, which many other cleaning methods do.
Fast and Efficient
As already outlined, dry ice blasting uses the power of freezing cold temperatures combined with immense speed to achieve a high quality clean. The process is by its very nature is fast and efficient and cleaning can be done with minimal or zero disassembly. In addition, dry ice blasting is incredibly versatile and can be applied in just about anything surface or hard-to-reach area. This saves money,labor, time, and materials.
Gentle on Surfaces
Dry ice blasting is known to clean surfaces without etching or causing damage. This means it can be safely used on sensitive machinery and surfaces. Even at high speeds and high impact, the CO2 pellets will not damage the surface.
No drying time
As dry ice blasting uses frozen CO2 pellets, there is no wetness involved and therefore no drying time required. This is a real time saver, as any painting or subsequent application can be applied immediately.
Dry ice blasting generally costs significantly less compared to other cleaning methods and products. This is in part, because there are less storage and maintenance costs associated with the dry ice blasting technique. As a more cost-effective way to clean, you will have more of your budget to spend on things that matter most to you.
Health and Well-Being
As dry ice blasting leaves no residue from the cleaning media it does not affect the working of adjacent equipment or nearby personnel. This also means that dry ice blasting will not contribute to any respiratory problems. In addition, since there is no CO2 creation, dry ice blasting does not add any harmful emissions to the carbon footprint of operations.
Wide Ranging Application
Dry ice blasting can be used in a wide range of situations. For example, dry ice blasting is suitable for use in hospitals as it does not affect a patient’s health or sensitive medical equipment. This saves time as well since the cleaning can be done on-site. In addition, due to the non-conductive and dry nature of the blasting operation, this method is particularly suited to the electrical industry. Cleaning of electrical appliances, relays, insulators, cables, inside of panels, switchgear, cable trays, and contacts can be done live and without a costly power shutdown. Dry ice blasting can also be used to clean motors and generators, as there is no requirement for drying which results in shorter downtimes.