How Does Dry Ice Cleaning Work?
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How Does Dry Ice Cleaning Work?

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How Does Dry Ice Cleaning Work?

By Jessie West | July 13 2022


Dry ice blasting, also known as CO2 blasting, can be a fitting choice for cleaning applications in your industry. It gets the job done as efficiently and quickly as other cleaning methods you may use. It also doesn’t create any secondary waste, meaning you have fewer materials to dispose of afterward. Learn more about the science of CO2 blasting and how it can help you get cleaner surfaces with no hassle or equipment damage.


How Does CO2 Cleaning Work?

Dry ice blasting doesn’t use abrasion media like many other blasting methods. Instead, it utilizes dry ice pellets, which sublimate, or turn into a gas, once they make contact with a surface. To facilitate this, liquid CO2 is stored under high pressure and then transferred to a pelletizer, where rapid expansion and an extrusion die convert it into granules of dry ice.

Here’s an in-depth overview of how dry ice cleaning works:

  1. Pellet kinetic energy: The dry ice granules are sent through a blasting nozzle using compressed air, traveling at 75 – 1,000 feet per second. When the dry ice is blasted through the nozzle at high speeds, a kinetic effect is created once it makes contact with the substrate being cleaned. This effect works most efficiently when the substrate is at room temperature.
  2. Thermal shock effect: With the thermal shock effect, the dry ice’s temperature creates a thermodynamic shock that causes the layer of contamination on the substrate to become brittle when the ice pellets make contact. The temperature difference between the room temperature substrate and the dry ice creates subsequent temperature differentials within the layers of the contaminant. This leads to micro-cracks in the layers that destroy the bond between the contaminant and the substrate.
  3. Thermal-kinetic effect: Once the granules impact the substrate, the temperature difference between the surface and dry ice combines with energy dissipation and causes the ice to sublimate. The pellets expand by 700 times their size as they sublimate, which helps lift the broken contaminant layer off the substrate by creating high pressure between the surface and the contaminant particles.


What Can Dry Ice Cleaning Be Used For?

Dry ice blasting is useful for numerous industries, making it a versatile solution for a wide range of applications. Some common fields that CO2 blasting science is applied to include:

  • Automotive shopsDry ice blasting is useful for people restoring older car models or cleaning new-model cars. Both applications can benefit from a cleaning method that removes grime without damaging the car’s paint.
  • Food processingWorkers sanitize food processing equipment by using dry ice blasting to eliminate food residue and grease.
  • Aerospace applications: CO2 pellets can be used as a nonconductive cleaning solution for contact points on sensitive electrical components employed in the aerospace industry.
  • Molding applicationsCleaning molds often requires you to disassemble complex equipment and spend significant time ensuring you clean every corner. With dry ice blasting, you can clean molds with no disassembly, and you won’t have to worry about scratching or damaging any equipment.


Why Should You Choose EAI for Dry Ice Blasting?

At Environmental Alternatives, Inc. (EAI), we make our own high-quality dry ice on-site to eliminate the inefficiency of delivering dry ice to your work site. Producing our own dry ice with Mobile Support Trailers allows us to have greater control over the quality of the end product. When you choose delivered dry ice services, the pellets will lose some of their density during the travel time, meaning they’ll begin sublimating before they leave the nozzle and provide a less effective clean.

When you work with EAI, you get a highly experienced partner that was the first company to introduce dry ice blasting to the power industry in 1993. We know what steps to take to make the process more efficient for all, allowing our clients to benefit from our high standards and quality service.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our environmentally friendly cleaning services can benefit your business.