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Dry ice - application

There are a number of possible applications of dry ice – from specialist types of utilisation in industry and laboratories to the increasingly popular “dry ice blasting”, to entertainment-related applications, e.g. creation of special effects in photography and films, or even as an interesting addition to drinks at pubs. Dry ice is very popular in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, in foodstuffs transport.

TRANSPORT : Dry ice is used in the transport of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and chemicals – in short, all substances requiring specific refrigeration conditions – food, vaccinations, blood products, etc. An undisputed advantage in this case is sublimation, namely lack of side effects, such as water from standard ice. An important aspect is its ability to inhibit the development of fungi and bacteria on the surface of the cooled product (permitted direct contact with food) as well as 1.6-times higher sublimation heat in comparison with the heat of water ice fusion. This means that if you put 1 kg of dry ice next to 1 kg of water ice, when the water ice has completely melted, there will still be 0.4 kg of dry ice left.

The refrigerating effect of dry ice is used to support the operation of existing cooling systems installed on means of transport (e.g. refrigerator cars); it can also be used to completely replace such solutions.

CATERING SERVICES: Dry ice is extremely popular on planes and trains where it is used as a cooling agent on food carts, but also in all other situations where using an alternative cooling method would be too difficult. This makes dry ice an ideal solution for all catering businesses that transport small amounts of food – usually over short distances to their clients. Dry ice makes it easy to keep a low temperature of foodstuffs without the need to use mechanical devices and without such side effects as melt water when common ice is used.

DRY ICE BLASTING: This dry ice application is very popular in Western Europe, but it is becoming more and more popular in Poland as well. It is an innovative solution, very often referred to as “sandblasting” with dry ice – due to similarities to this cleaning method. The difference is that instead of sand or glass particles, dry ice granulate is used.

How does it work?

The mixture of compressed air and dry ice granulate is sprayed under high pressure. First of all, the dirt on the surface is instantaneously frozen. It becomes brittle and loses connection with the surface it was deposited on. Stage two comprises mechanical removal of dirt from the surface using the same stream of air mixed with granulate. Particles of dry ice, having bounced off of the cleaned surface, sublimate at an incredible speed. Therefore this process is very “clean” – namely it does not generate pollution and dust in the direct vicinity. This is very important in, e.g., food plants (cleaning of machines used in food production), factory halls (e.g. cleaning of machines or injection moulds), and anywhere else where traditional sandblasting is not recommended.

Cleaning such elements can be performed at the client’s; but it can also be used to clean building elevations. Dry ice blasting is safe for the base material – it does not damage the surface subject to cleaning.

There is no need to disassemble parts of machines or production lines, which usually involves interruptions in the production process.

LABORATORIES: Dry ice can be used in all processes requiring low temperature, e.g. to slow down exothermic reactions, during the formation of low temperature liquids – for example mixtures containing alcohol that are characterised by a low freezing point.

SHRINKING: This method is used when metal elements are matched, e.g. pin – bushing.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: CO2, whilst sublimating, produces a mist that can be used for many creative purposes. The mist effect can be augmented when dry ice is thrown into water or other liquid – it also happens to be a great idea for preparing a stunning cocktail (ATTENTION – never swallow dry ice!).

OTHER: Anywhere else where the cooling effect is essential. It is a natural product, classified as a food additive according to European Directive 96/77/EC.