Carbon dioxide has a bad reputation in a lot of people’s minds, and we think that’s unfortunate. Just like any substance, CO2can help us or harm us, depending on what we do with it. To most people, carbon dioxide is primarily the gas that we humans breathe out after we’ve taken in oxygen and used it to replenish our lungs. Carbon dioxide is also produced by many industrial processes, and most people would recognize it as a “greenhouse gas.” But in the right application, carbon dioxide can do some incredible things, particularly in the area of industrial equipment cleaning. For today’s blogpost, we’d like to walk you through the things that dry ice cleaning does—and just as importantly, the things that it doesn’t do. You’ll see why we at Thompson Industrial Services have a great affection for this little-appreciated substance!
What Dry Ice Cleaning Does
First, the basics of this fascinating process. In dry ice cleaning, we fire small pellets of frozen carbon dioxide in a stream of pressurized air at the surface or piece of equipment that we are cleaning. Although it happens too quickly for the human eye to catch, each pellet then quickly turns from a solid to a gas as it approaches the surface. That phase change releases a huge amount of energy; it’s really a small explosion that blasts contaminating debris away from the underlying surface. Our technicians can adjust the intensity of these explosions to match the job at hand, making it gentle enough to clean brittle paper documents or powerful enough to strip away weld slag, as well as any debris removal need that falls between those two extremes. This huge range of applications makes dry ice blasting one of our key services, ideal even for cleaning in ultra-clean environments like pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.
|Before and after a dry ice cleaning!|
What Dry Ice Cleaning Doesn’t Do
We can also talk about the value of dry ice cleaning in terms of negatives—what is absent from the service that makes it so beneficial? One of the major things is debris. As the frozen carbon dioxide pellets change to gas, they leave no solid residue, a much different result than sandblasting or using another type of abrasive. The only thing left to sweep up after the cleaning is done is the debris removed from the equipment surface.
Another feature absent from our cryogenic cleaning services is moisture. When performing maintenance on electronic equipment or robotic devices, it is essential to use a cleaning application that is non-conductive and that will not ruin delicate electronics. Dry ice cleaning is an ideal solution for this need, since it uses no water and produces no liquid residue.
One more feature you won’t find with frozen carbon dioxide: hazards for the environment. This service is totally green, and in fact, much of the CO2 that we use has been captured from our other industrial cleaning equipment emissions, frozen, and reused in our cryogenic cleaning services. It’s a very advanced form of recycling that makes good use of carbon dioxide before we allow it to escape into the atmosphere for good.
When using dry ice, there are a few critical safety protocols that our technicians always follow. Because CO2 freezes at about 109 degrees below zero, they protect their skin from accidental burns with gloves and other special clothing. In addition, when CO2sublimates, it displaces oxygen in the atmosphere. Depending on the location of the dry ice cleaning project, our technicians may use breathing equipment to ensure that they take in enough oxygen. There are safety risks to be aware of and protect against with any industrial cleaning project, and our technicians understand how to keep cryogenic cleaning services both safe and highly effective on every job.
In addition to our dry ice cleaning services, Thompson Industrial Services also offers automated hydroblasting, hydro-cutting, and chemical cleaning with the same level of expertise. Our project managers are ready to visit your site, assess the cleaning needs, and identify the very best services to keep your facility’s equipment running efficiently and safely long into the future. Get in touch with us today to find out more.