Case Study: Using Dry Ice Blasting to Clean Economizer Piping
Technique Used: Dry Ice Blasting
Economizers are important, yet often misunderstood, pieces of equipment. They’re designed to help businesses and building owners maximize energy efficiency – particularly when it comes to HVAC equipment. Unfortunately, economizers are prone to dirt and deposit buildup, which hinders them from accomplishing the very tasks they’re installed to do. That’s why an S.A.G.D. industry leader located in Alberta called the professionals at Wickens Dry Ice Blasting.
Our client in Alberta referenced in this case study is highly dependant on its economizer to maximize energy efficiency and reduce costs associated with powering critical equipment. It works by reducing air conditioning costs using outside air to provide free cooling. As a result, the compressor has less demand, which lowers overhead costs and extends the useful life of the equipment.
While our client performs regular cleaning on its economizers as part of its preventative maintenance plan, when the fins on the tubes of the economizer get dirty, deposits build up and they become far less efficient. Our client recognized that the traditional cleaning methods they’ve been using can be messy, time-consuming, and impractical. As such, they decided to try Wickens Dry Ice Blasting.
While the client site itself was fairly easy to access, the economizer was located roughly 25 feet above ground. This meant all of the work had to be completed out of an Aerial Work Platform (AWP) and much caution had to be taken to ensure that all debris, residue, and equipment was safely contained. Challenging weather also had to be worked around – at one point, a lightning storm shut down operations for a few hours.
Wickens used high pressure dry ice blasting to clean the economizer tubes. Dry ice blasting, which is a relatively new cleaning process, uses solid CO2 pellets (known as dry ice) to hit the intended surface. In this case, the economizer tubes were the target. Because of the speed and change in temperature of the blast, the pellets immediately transition from a solid to a vapour. This leaves clean and dry tubes without any lingering residue.
Because there was no secondary waste, the turnaround was fast, which allowed the economizer to return to service within just a couple of hours of completion.
As a result of the dry ice blasting method, the tubes were thoroughly cleaned, which increased the efficiency of the economizer, and has lowered operating costs and reduced the risk of breakdowns in the near future. The job was scheduled for 3-5 days and was completed in only 3.5 days, leaving our client happy with the results.
For more information on our dry ice blasting process and how it can be used in multiple applications, please contact Wickens today!