Techniques

Cleaning with Dry Ice Blasting

Dry Ice, also known as Cryogenic Blasting or CO2 Blasting, is a relatively new cleaning process that uses solid CO2 pellets known as dry ice. Dry ice pellets sublimate once they’ve hit the surface to be cleaned (meaning they transition directly from a solid blast pellet to a vapour) leaving a clean, dry surface with no residue.

Dry ice blasting is ideal for:

How Dry Ice Blasting Works

To use dry ice, the proper cryogenic blasting equipment and dry ice blasting machines must be used. The dry ice blasting process uses pellets made through the process of taking Liquid Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and expanding it to produce a snow like substance that is compressed to make hard dry ice pellets.

The pellets are then propelled at a supersonic speed by a compressed air gun (similar to other blasting systems). Upon impact, the dry ice creates a micro-thermal shock (caused by the extreme cold temperature of -79º C) which breaks the bond between the coating and the substrate. The high-pressure air stream removes the dirt from the surface, while the dry ice pellets vapourize or sublimate before your eyes.

The Three Powerful Forces of Dry Ice Blasting

  1. Kinetic Energy Transfer
    Dry ice pellets are accelerated by compressed air to high speeds – fracturing the top layer of dirt/residue.
  2. Micro-Thermal Energy Transfer
    The different materials contract unequally and the adherence between them decreases. This thermal difference helps to separate the dirt/residue from the substrate.
  3. Sublimation Energy Transfer
    After the dry ice makes its initial impact, it instantaneously turns from a solid to a gas. The volume expansion (by a factor of 700) causes a micro explosion that detaches the dirt/residue from the substrate.

Advantages of Dry Ice Blasting

Increases uptime through in-place cleaning: The process is fast, thorough, and can be performed on-line without disassembly and without need for drying time.

Cleans without damaging the substrate: Cryogenic blasting is non-abrasive. It quickly removes most contaminates without damage to switches, panels, lines, tubes, wiring or belts.

Reduces or eliminates the need for hazardous solvents: Dry ice blasting replaces chemical or solvent based cleaning and manual scraping.

Quicker and more thorough than cleaning by hand: Get a more detailed and quicker clean with CO2 by getting into tight spaced areas inaccessible by hand.

Safe around electrical components: This versatile process cleans heavy industrial build up without damage to sensitive areas like electrical components, switches, wiring, photo electric sensors, etc.

Dry Ice Blasting Compared to Traditional Cleaning Methods

The dry ice blasting process is superior to blasting with sand, glass beads, and other cleaning methods for numerous reasons. As an eco-friendly cleaning alternative, the cryogenic blasting method is quickly becoming favored for environmental as well as production reasons. Due to the nature of the dry ice blasting process, there is no waste to be disposed of. Tremendous performance gains of little to no production downtime, quality of the clean, no clean-up, and minimized damage to equipment make cryogenic blasting a cost-effective cleaning option.

Blasting Cleaning Technique Waste for Disposal Abrasive Toxic Electrically Conductive Performance Comparison
Dry Ice No No No No Excellent
Sand Yes Yes No* No OK
Glass Beads Yes Yes No* No OK
Walnut Shells Yes Yes No* No Limited
Steam No No No Yes Poor
Solvents Yes No Yes Yes Limited
* Each of these blasting materials becomes contaminated upon contact if used to clean hazardous objects. When that happens, these materials are then classified as toxic waste requiring safe and proper disposal.

Locations Served

Our mobile fleet serves locations all across Ontario, including Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, London, Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines, Windsor, Barrie, Sudbury, and more.

Certifications

Case Studies

Case Study: Using Dry Ice Blasting to Clean Economizer Piping

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.

Case Study: Toronto Condominium Fire Restoration

Condo fire damage quickly spreads to nearby units as well as the building exterior, displacing residents from their homes until the building can be safely restored. That’s why a restoration company called the professionals at Wickens Dry Ice Blasting after a Toronto condo building experienced serious fire damage.

Case Study: Historical Restoration and Preservation of the Kissing Bridge

Many tourists from different parts of the world come to visit Waterloo to experience the scenic beauty of the Covered Bridge. The professionals at Wickens were called in to perform dry Ice blasting, ensuring the bridge retains its pleasing interior. Thanks to dry ice blasting, cleaning this historical structure no longer carries the threat of damage it once did.

Case Study: Fire Restoration in a Subway Restaurant

When a fire leaves a business unable to function, it’s crucial to call in the experts to restore the damaged areas and get back to serving customers as quickly as possible. That’s why a restoration company called the professionals at Wickens after a Subway restaurant in Burlington experienced serious fire damage.

Case Study: Via Rail Fire Restoration & Prevention

Via Rail connects Canada from coast to coast—so it’s crucial to keep trains running safely and efficiently. After an incident involving an exhaust vent that caught fire, Via Rail called in the professionals at Wickens Dry Ice Blasting to restore the area and provide preventive cleaning to avoid similar issues in the future.

Case Study: Mould Removal from Hamilton Townhouses

The Municipality of Hamilton, Ontario faced a nightmare situation when mould was found in the attics of 90 residential townhouses. Wickens completed the three-month mould remediation project on time, under budget, and with very little disruption to the tenants.

Case Study: Using Dry Ice Blasting to Clean the Canadian Plaza Canopy in Niagara

On the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge, visitors are greeted by the Canadian Plaza, which consists of a main administration building for processing arrivals. Wickens used dry ice blasting to clean the wooden structure without disrupting the high volumes of visitor traffic.

Case Study: Mould Remediation at a St. Catharines Ice Arena

Managers of an ice arena in St. Catharine’s, Ontario discovered significant mould growth on the ceiling of the building. Wickens Dry Ice Blasting was able to clean the mould residue and mould spores from the ceiling and support structures within two weeks.

Case Study: Removing Lead Paint from a Historic Lighthouse in Niagara

Marking the entrance to the Niagara River is a lighthouse that once guided boats and ships arriving via Lake Ontario. Recently, Fisheries and Oceans Canada decided it was necessary to refurbish the lighthouse and remove the lead paint that had been applied years ago before federal regulations came into effect.

Case Study: Saving a Building Project from Mould

For builders in Northern Ontario, winter came all too quickly while constructing a luxury condo building. With snow and wet conditions, mould developed on the building materials and spread throughout the building. Wickens quickly mobilized a team of trained technicians to begin the mould remediation process.

Case Study: Removing Asbestos from an Office Building

A three-story office building in South Western Ontario had areas of exposed brick on all levels that had been painted with asbestos-containing paint. With extensive experience, specialized processes, and trained technicians, Wickens Dry Ice Blasting was able to safely and quickly remove the asbestos.

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