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Dry Ice Blasting takes industrial cleaning into the 21st century

By Judy Penz Sheluk

Dry ice blasting completely removes mould spores from wood, and reaches tight angles of trusses, around nails, wiring and all plumbing without damage.

It wasn't all that long ago that industrial cleaning meant using the somewhat limited functionality of high-pressure water washing, the environmentally unfriendly use of toxic solvents and chemicals, or abrasive techniques such as sand or soda blasting. While the latter methods sound harmless, traditional blasting materials become contaminated when used to clean hazardous substances and objects, resulting in a classification of toxic waste and the added requirement of appropriate safe disposal. Fortunately, times have changed; today, many industry professionals are using an environmentally friendly cleaning process called dry ice blasting (also known as cryogenic blast cleaning).
So what exactly is dry ice blasting and how does it work? "Dry ice blasting is similar to sand blasting, plastic bead blasting, or soda blasting, where a medium is accelerated in a pressurized air stream to impact a surface to be cleaned or prepared," explains DUANE FROESE, owner of Hot Cat Industrial Cleaning in Landmark, Manitoba. "However, instead of using hard abrasive media to grind and potentially damage a surface, dry ice blasting uses non-toxic, non-hazardous, high-density CO2 pellets, accelerated at supersonic speeds, to safely blast away unwanted surface materials. It works because of three primary factors: pellet kinetic energy, thermal shock effect, and thermal kinetic effect." [Technical aficionados can read up on all the scientific details at www.iceblasters.ca or www.coldjet.com.]
Industries that typically use dry ice cleaning include aerospace, automotive, electrical, food and beverage, foundry, printing, packaging, paving, plastics, roofing, rubber, and wood. It's also an effective, cost-efficient, and labour-reduced choice for builders, renovators, historical restoration, and graffiti removal. For example, in new construction, dry ice blasting removes mortar smear with far less time and effort than the traditional method of acid wash. On older/historic buildings, it safely removes years of residue (or paint) on brick and concrete.
Dry ice blasting is also a safe, reliable solution for mould remediation and fire restoration. "On one condo project in the community of Linden Woods (near Winnipeg), a construction heater caught fire, causing charring, smoke, and oil damage to a couple of balconies in a new condominium project," said Froese. "We were able to restore the balconies within a couple of hours. We have also successfully removed tar that had been baked onto brick, the result of a fire from a roofing trailer."
It isn't just about cleaning exteriors. On another condo project in Linden Woods, an underground garage was being expanded. Froese was able to remove a very tough moisture barrier from an exterior wall. Previous to dry ice blasting, no other method had been successful.
Since dry ice blasting is non-conductive, non-flammable, and non-abrasive, is gentle to surfaces, wires and moving parts, and can be done in place (eliminating the need to disassemble and move equipment), it is also recommended for cleaning of electrical motors and gear systems. Furthermore, dry ice can be easily stored at job sites in an insulated container; depending on the climate and thickness of the container, typical dry ice sublimation is approximately two to 10 per cent per day.
For more information visit Cold Jet, LLC or Hot Cat Industrial Cleaning.

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