CO2 Dry Ice Cleaning and How Does It Work

CO2 Dry Ice cleaning is a process in which particles of solid carbon dioxide, commonly known as dry ice, are propelled to impact and clean a surface. Upon impact, the CO2 particles return to their natural state as carbon dioxide gas, thus disappearing as they clean. Although it is often compared to sand blasting, bead blasting, or soda blasting, dry ice actually cleans differently. Traditional abrasive blasting methods clean through a chiseling action, much like using an ice pick, but often take away part of the substrate as well. CO2 Dry Ice cleaning, on the other hand, might better be compared to a spatula as it lifts away the contaminant. The dry ice pierces the contaminant but sublimates instantly upon striking the substrate beneath. This sublimation creates a compression tension wave between the coating and the substrate with enough energy to overcome the bonding strength of dry contaminants and pop them off from the inside out.

Decreased Downtime – Clean in Place
Clean in place is possible because dry ice disappears on contact with the targeted surface meaning there is no fear of harmful grit entrapment. This means many time-consuming, labor-intensive steps required with old-fashioned cleaning methods are no longer necessary. This includes cool down, disassembly, transport of the equipment to and from a dedicated cleaning area, and reassembly.

A Faster, More Thorough Clean
CO2 Dry Ice cleaning is far more effective and faster than cleaning by hand. Many users point to substantial labor-savings when compared to scrubbing with abrasive pads or wire brushes. More impressive is the fact that these savings are accomplished while achieving a superior clean. Dry Ice cleaning successfully cleans nooks and crannies that are difficult or impossible to reach by hand. This helps your equipment run more efficiently and greatly improves maintenance efforts.

Reduces or Eliminates Solvent Use
Many users of CO2 Dry Ice cleaning do so because of the need to reduce or eliminate solvent use. Sometimes solvent reductions are necessary to comply with environmental regulations, other times to improve worker safety. Regardless of the reason, these reductions are often quite dramatic. Tinker One customer uses CO2 Dry Ice cleaning to remove carbon, corrosion and paint from jet engine components. CO2 Dry Ice cleaning has reduced their chemical usage by 1,700 gallons per year and has eliminated the associated hazardous waste disposal.

Reduces Waste Disposal
Whether accustomed to using solvents or traditional abrasive media, industries that turn to CO2 Dry Ice cleaning often see dramatic reductions in waste volume. When removing hazardous material, other blasting media mix with the contaminant and all must be disposed of as toxic waste. Because dry ice sublimates on impact, all that must be disposed of is the contaminant itself. The resulting savings are often remarkable. One user in the petroleum industry once generated so much waste using sand blasting that they measured it by the boxcar. Using dry ice, the waste volume is now measured by the barrel. Merely ending or lessening the reliance on solvents can greatly reduce disposal costs.