History and Usage of Dry Ice Blasting

Posted On September 9, 2015

Dry Ice Blasting is now recognised as the foremost solution for industry to maximise production capability and quality. The process uses similar principles to other intense cleaning methods including sand and soda blasting whereby particles are accelerated via pressurised stream towards a surface to remove dirt and residue. However unlike these traditional methods, dry ice blasting is multi purpose and can be used in even the most sensitive of environments including food manufacturing. Furthermore, dry ice blasting is regarded as the environmentally friendly alternative for such cleaning and it helps that in most cases no disassembly of the surrounding structures is required. 

How did it come about?

The first record of dry ice is attributed to French chemist Thilorier in 1835. He witnessed the appearance of solid CO2 – dry ice - at the bottom of a container which had housed liquid carbon dioxide. Thereafter the material was subjected to years of laboratory testing without any specific uses identified. 

In 1892, a doctor in the British Army, was granted a patent for solidification of carbon dioxide. His aim was to make soda water to mix with his whiskey, but found the cylinders too heavy to carry. The dry ice was not used in the mainstream for this purpose as it would sublimate into gas before all of it was used.  

Commercial usage of dry ice blasting

Commercial use of dry ice started in 1925 in the fire extinguisher field, moving onto the rail network to insulate railroad cars. Products that realised the benefits of dry ice included ice cream, and frozen foods, particularly by Birdseye frozen foods that set up in 1931.

However it wasn't until 1986 when dry ice blasting was considered an option for industrial cleaning. It was in this year that pioneers of dry ice blasting officially opened their first production plant to develop what was then simply an idea. Through the ‘90s, continued research and development produced robust and efficient technology that was practical and provided value for money.

Over the years the dry ice cleaning method has evolved into two systems; dual hose and single hose systems. Both systems will provide optimal cleaning results, but single hose proves better for dealing with stubborn and heavier debris and also allows for the operator to be at a greater distance from the actual operation taking place. There is also the added choice of whether to use dry ice pellets or shaved dry ice block. Much like the differences between the dual and single hose options, shaved particles are recommended for intricate, confined areas while pellets work better for resistant contaminants.