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What is Dry Ice and Its Application

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Dry ice is the solid form of CO2. Today, dry ice is used for a variety of purposes. Usually, dry ice is used in industry with functions such as blasting, preserving frozen foods and medicines.

Besides that, dry ice is also used for many different purposes in our daily life, such as creating special effects in movies or events.

Dry ice can be produced in a variety of ways, but the most common method is using dry ice pelletizers to make clean and quality dry ice. Let’s find out anything about dry ice in this article.

What is dry ice?

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2) compare to Normal ice (frozen water) which is made up of crystalline hexagonal structures, but because dry ice is so cold (-78.5C), its molecules are locked into a more dense form, like the crystals in snowflakes. It has no liquid state at atmospheric pressure, so it’s called a solid even though it is actually gas.

Dry Ice will not melt at normal pressure but sublimate directly to gas at -78,5 degrees Celcius.

what is dry ice
Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2)

Dry Ice is made by liquefying carbon dioxide and injecting it into a holding tank, where it’s frozen at a temperature of -109oF and compressed into solid ice. It can be used in different applications including the food industry to preserve food.

As a result, there are many producers all over the world who produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct and dry ice is one of the many products they manufacture.

How to make Dry Ice?

There are many different methods to freeze carbon dioxide, but the most common is the ‘pressure-swing adsorption’ process. It uses low-pressure carbon dioxide that has been filtered of all liquids and impurities so it’s very clean with purity up to 99.99%.

The first stage is called the desorber, which rids the carbon dioxide of any water or other liquids (known as ‘impurities’). The purified carbon dioxide gas is then passed through a molecular sieve called an adsorbent, where it’s cooled down to approximately -109.3°F / -78.5°C.

The gas that’s left then enters another ‘desorber’ where its pressure is increased to about 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and this causes the pure CO2 in the adsorbent to sublime (change from a solid into a gas). This process is said to be adiabatic because no heat (energy) is added by an external source.

Finally, the dry ice pellets are collected in a cold chamber and they’re usually stored at about -109.3°F / -78.5°C so that they stay frozen until they’re ready to be used.

So, to make dry ice, the workers will liquefy CO2 and put it into a storage tank. In this tank, the temperature will be set to -109.3°F/ -78.5°C. With this temperature, CO2 will be converted to dry ice.

Depending on the dry ice pelletizer we use, dry ice can be made of pellet, nuggets, large blocks and slices of various sizes.

Dry Ice Cleaning Machine of Specco2

Specco2 introduces world-class Aero series dry ice blasting cleaning machines which ensure the best pellet integrity and highest cleaning aggression. Our machines have very positive feedback from the clients of the market.

Aero®40FP

Aero® 40FP is a mid-level full pressure dry ice cleaning machine with radial feeding system technology. The advanced Radial Feeding System enables smooth, efficient feeding to reduce wear and extend machine life.

The Performance SureFlow System is a revolutionary new way to clean tanks. In fact, you can run an entire hopper through 100 feet of hose without clogging or poking any leaks!

The Aero®40FP dry ice cleaning machine provides gentle cleaning at 20 psi (1.4 bar). It also includes accessories like pressure regulators which can provide you with better cleaning results in different environments!

aero dry ice blasting machine
Aero® 40FP Dry Ice Blasting Machine
  • Weights: 257 lbs
  • Dry Ice Capacity: 40 lb
  • Max blast pressure: 250 psi

Aero®80FP

Aero® 80FP has all the features and advantages of Aero® 40FP with extended capacities

This is the most efficient, powerful and versatile dry ice blasting system on today’s market!

It includes an enhanced rotor to provide pulse-free blasting with precision feed rate control for unmatched clean results in any environment or application

dry ice blaster
Aero®80FP Dry Ice Blasting Machine
  • Weight: 389 lbs
  • Dry Ice Capacity: 80lb
  • Max blast pressure: 300 psi

Attentions when producing Dry Ice

While dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, it is extremely cold and will burn the skin. You must wear gloves and safety goggles when making or using dry ice.

Dry ice must be stored in a well-ventilated room due to its effects on air pressure (i.e., causing an inhalation hazard).

The use of insulated containment boxes are preferred to ensure good Dry Ice conservation while mitigating health hazard.

Application of Dry Ice in Industry

Dry Ice Cleaning

Dry ice cleaning is usually used for industrial and commercial purposes with dry ice being the cleaning media

dry ice blasting
Dry Ice Blasting is the main purpose of dry ice in Industry

To elaborate, ice blasting is a cleaning process (non-abrasive) that makes the use of CO2 pellets as an impact medium to remove surface contaminants. After the impact on the surface, solid pellets sublime directly, leaving no solid remnant after blasting.

Dry Ice is also use to remove unwanted coatings such as paint or rust and safely clean various surfaces.

The dry ice techniques are mostly preferred over other traditional blasting methods such as a sand or other expandable abrasives as well as glass bead, nutshells etc. Dry ice cleaning involves kinetics and thermodynamics and that is why it is a far superior cleaning method..  

The Science Behind Dry Ice Blasting Machines

Kinetic energy

It happens when compressed air pushes dry ice pellets onto the top layer of dirt, paint or residue. Here, in comparison to sand, grit or other abrasives, solid carbon dioxide’s kinetic effect on the surface is minimal.

Micro-Thermal energy

At 109°F creates a shock on the surface, leading to a crack on it. Heat through these cracks gets in contact with dry ice that is subliming already, letting the pellets absorb maximum heat. This thermal difference gets rid of dirt from the surface.

Sublimation energy

The heat expands the solid carbon dioxide and turns it into gas. Within a few milliseconds, dry ice is capable of expanding up to 800 times. The expansion of gas makes the dirt fall off as it creates more cracks on the dirt.

Why Dry Ice Blasting Machines Should Be Prioritized For Industrial uses?

Dry ice blasting machines should be preferred for industrial uses because unlike sandblasters, ice blasting machines have the talent to remove grime without putting scratches onto the surface. Moreover, it is an environmentally responsible method as there is no second wasted in the cleaning process with dry ice.

Having an ice blasting machine means:

  • There won’t be any mess to clean after the process
  • You don’t need to wait for the ice blasting machine to cool and restart
  • Efficient cleaning as there won’t be any moisture left behind

Apart from being highly efficient and having no downtime, dry ice blasting machines are environment-friendly. All of this makes them suitable machines for industrial purposes.

dry ice application
Dry Ice Blasting can be an effective way to clean your machine

Medical Industry

Dry ice cleaning reduces cleaning time of precision molds as well as precision and high-tolerance medical parts. Dry ice blasting for medical device manufacturing is a non-abrasive process that will not damage molds or tooling.

Dry ice is quite resourceful when it comes to keeping things like organs, medical supplies and test samples at even cooler temperatures. One of the best things about dry ice is that it evaporates, meaning you won’t see water residue left over.

Sometime, dry ice can be used as material for pharmaceutical shipping

Food industry

Food preparation and storage require strict regulations, and that is why dry ice has been playing a major role in commercial kitchens, restaurants, and supermarkets. Dry ice helps to keep the food fresh for a long period and also helps with the bacterial removal of mildew during food shipping.

Especially, dry ice blasting for the food industry provides an effective and in-situ cleaning solution for contaminants on the surfaces of production machinery and equipment.

As far as food storage is concerned, dry ice helps to keep the food fresh for a long period.

Automotive Industry

Dry ice blasting can be used to clean car engines effectively. Reduce cleaning time by as much as 70%. Cold Jet’s non-abrasive dry ice cleaning systems easily remove excess grease, sludge, sealant, and weld slag from equipment. Dry ice blast cleaning is faster and more effective than traditional cleaning methods

Plastic & Composites

Solutions for your pain points in plastics processing. Dry ice blasting helps plastic manufacturers reduce scrap and downtime, improve product quality and prolong the life of their equipment.

Rubber & Tires

Keep your tire and rubber mold presses running. The buildup of cured material and mold release agents causes sticking molds, blemishes, and unwanted flash on final parts, making them unusable and requiring press shut down for cleaning.

Traditional cleaning methods can be time-consuming, ineffective, damaging to molds, and result in high labor and material costs.

Application of Dry Ice in daily life

Dry Ice is used for the following purposes in our daily life:

  • To preserve the food items like meat, fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables for longer times.
  • It is used to make ice cream in most of the Ice Cream Parlors.
  • Dry ice is also used to create special effects in movies.
  • In some of the nightclubs dry ice is used as a cooling agent for air conditioners as it emits CO2 gas without causing pollution.
  • Dry Ice can also be used to determine the age of a tree.
  • It can also be used to kill weeds which are troublesome during irrigation in agriculture fields.
  • Dry ice is also very useful when draining out water from a ship that has been sunk.
  • Many people like the small children even make use of dry ice for Halloween decoration purposes by placing them in the Jack-O-Lanterns.
  • To get rid of unwanted rodents like rats, mice and insects it may be put in rat holes.
  • It is also used by many of the lifeguards at beaches and swimming pools to prevent the growth of algae under water.
  • It is also used as a coolant for electronic equipment like laptops, desktop computers, printers, fax machines, and other devices which get hot during operation.
  • For making objects appear out of thin air dry ice may be used in magic tricks.
  • Dry Ice can be used in wedding to create special effect
application of dry ice
Dry ice can be used in special events

How to Store Dry Ice

Thinking about what are the instructions for storing dry ice? Follow the following tips:

  1. Purchasing dry ice at the right time is like storing dry ice properly: The sublimation process can be slowed down, but it can’t be stopped, and that is why you should buy dry ice a few moments before using it.
  2. Protect your arms by putting on insulated gloves: Dry ice has such an extreme temperature that it can burn your skin. When storing dry ice, make sure you have put on insulated gloves to protect your skin. It would also be good if you wear long sleeves while handling dry ice.
  3. Use a well-insulated container: To extend the period of dry ice, make sure you store it in a well-insulated container.
  4. Don’t go with walk-in-freezer: Don’t go with storing dry ice in a walk-in-freezer because a walk-in-freezer can be hazardous in poorly ventilated areas as it produces carbon dioxide.
  5. Fill the container with crumpled paper: To slow down the sublimation process, fill the container with crumpled paper as it will lessen the space in the container.
  6. Make sure the container is closed as much as possible: Any opening in the container will let the warm air in, which means the sublimation process will increase, and dry ice will evaporate quickly.
  7. The temperature outside the cooler should be as cool as possible: If the temperature outside the cooler is cold, then the sublimation process inside the cooler will be slow and vice versa. Therefore, if it’s cold outside, place the cooler outside, and if it is warm outside, place the cooler inside in some warm place.

To conclude this part, we will say that when you handling dry ice, make sure you never leave it unattended.

The harmful effect of dry ice

Dry ice can also cause harmful effects on humans. If dry ice is mishandled or misused, it will be cold enough to cause “burn” or frostbite to the skin.

It can also damage objects with temperatures above freezing, such as pipes or valves, so be sure to protect these items before using dry ice on them.

Conclusion

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide and it has many different applications.  We have discussed some of the most popular ones, but there are plenty more that you can explore on your own! Remember to always use caution when handling dry ice as it will cause frostbite if touched with bare skin.


Reference:

Nga Dang Thi Thuy

Nga Dang Thi Thuy

Commercial Executive
+84 (0) 383370895

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