Cleaning Up With CO2: The 4 Different Methods
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Cleaning Up With CO2: The 4 Different Methods

Industrial cleaning requires more force than your traditional sprays and detergents. This is when CO2 cleaning equipment and methods come into play. Carbon Dioxide is already around us every day, as a natural trace gas that makes up 0.05% of our atmosphere. As a naturally occurring element, utilizing CO2 cleaning in industries such as dry cleaning has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the EPA Design for the Environment as an environmentally-preferable technology. CO2 cleaning technology can be used in many different industries, and there are four main forms of the cleaning method.


    1. Snow CleaningThis system of cleaning involves CO2 in either a gaseous or liquid form. The carbon dioxide expands and creates an output stream that is focused on the cleaning target as a high velocity solid and gas mix. With CO2 cleaning equipment, snow cleaning can remove particles of all sizes, even as small as three nanometers. Most of the technology has single expansion nozzles that are able to handle the high velocity of the output.


    1. Dry Ice PelletsFor efficient contamination removal, the pellets system shoots macroscopic dry ice pieces at the cleaning target. This system is best suited for surfaces that can withstand the intense impact of the pellets, as the entire system is designed to clean by applying thermo-mechanical impact shock. The first step of this cleaning system is the formation of the pellets at the desired size, and then the maintenance of the pellets at proper conditions. The pellets are then fed into the equipment, accelerated by compressed gas, and then distributed at the cleaning target.


    1. Supercritical Fluid CO2Also known as SFCO2 systems, they use CO2’s solvent properties and other properties of a superfluid. The superfluid that is used will have very low viscosity and better solvent properties than the standard liquid phase. This method begins with the cleaning target being sealed in a vessel, filling the vessel, and then adjusting the temperature and pressure as needed. When you need a contaminant to be organically removed, rather than at a high velocity as with the pellet system, the SFCO2 system is best. It’s especially well-suited for delicate or small parts or complex structures.


  1. Liquid CO2 Washing SystemsThis is essentially a simpler version of the SFCO2 system. The CO2 cleaning equipment design is easier and larger volumes can be accepted because lower pressures are used in the cleaning process. The lower pressure also means that the effective penetrating power of the superfluid is no longer involved in the cleaning, and the CO2 is in a simple liquid form. To remove particles effectively, agitation and spin cycles have been included in the process so that it is similar to your typical laundry experience.

If you think that CO2 cleaning would be an effective method for your industry needs, contact a professional company today.


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  • Taylor Hansen
    April 10, 2020, 6:35 pm REPLY

    It’s interesting to learn that carbon dioxide can be used as a washing system for larger volumes. My uncle is trying to find different ways that he can clean his industrial tanks. I’ll have to share this with him so he can know the benefits of cleaning with CO2 and how it can help his factory.