Having a Blast
Precision Iceblast Corporation provides an innovative, environmentally friendly industrial cleaning solution
As the story goes, contractor Gary Boye was doing a project at a Cincinnati paper mill where he witnessed a unique cleaning technology: dry iceblasting. So impressed, the next year, in 1993, Boye, along with his wife, JoAnn, decided that’s what he wanted to do—start a contracting company featuring a dry iceblasting service to do industrial cleaning. Precision Iceblast Corporation was born.
The couple purchased the needed equipment and started providing their service to paper mills in Wisconsin. After the first or second job, they realized that if you’re going to clean equipment, it has to be painted, so they started offering painting services as well. At first, they had just two other employees—their sons, Brandon and Keith.
Over the past 25 years, Precision Iceblast has grown steadily. It is an independent contracting operation headquartered in Wisconsin, but with numerous satellite locations around the country, including the Houston area, as well as offering their services internationally. The company provides expert ice blasting services to many industries, such as printing, food, paper, tape, power generation, automotive, marine, restoration, manufacturing and much more. Their surface preparation systems utilize a high-velocity torrent of dry ice to clean, strip, or prepare surfaces for painting. This technology has become the cleanest and most environmentally friendly way to clean and prep any surface.
According to Joel Williams, Vice President of Business Development, “We do a lot of work for power generation facilities. The trend I’m seeing more and more, though, is dry iceblasting, paint prep and painting being utilized in construction and reconstruction, refurbished buildings, steelwork on existing structures likes bridges and water towers—anywhere a lot of customized cleaning needs to take place.”
What is Dry Iceblasting Technology?
Perhaps the easiest way to explain dry iceblasting technology is that it’s similar to sandblasting, but with several key differences. Joel explains, “We use rice-size dry ice pellets. A machine holds the ice, mixes the ice with high pressure air and blasts things clean. When the dry ice pellets hit the surface, they do something different than you’d see with sandblasting. They sublimate from a solid to a gas and expand to 800 times their size. Specifically, there’s a mini explosion that happens with each pellet that literally blasts the surfaces clean.”
A Green Solution and More
One big reason for the technology’s popularity in so many industries is there’s very little mess to clean up. Additionally, dry iceblasting doesn’t create CO2; it only uses existing CO2 in the process. Therefore, notes Joel, “it really is a carbon neutral process. There is no waste generated. Whatever gets blasted off is the only waste that needs to be disposed of.”
Therefore, if they’re removing paint, the only thing that they have to get rid of are the paint chips. There’s no sand mixed into it, which is important, especially if its lead paint or something hazardous. Where you might otherwise have two 55 gallon barrels full of waste, with dry iceblasting they would have, perhaps, three gallons of paint chips. On numerous levels, it’s a much more environmentally friendly way to clean.
Another advantage is, as the name says, this process is completely dry. So, for instance, in a food plant where there is concern about moisture, mold and salmonella, dry iceblasting gets rid of those issues rather than contributing to it. Not to mention, the cleaning can take place while the machines are running, increasing efficiencies.
Beyond the advantages of the technology itself, the team at Precision Iceblast prides itself on treating their customers as partners, working with each client to come up with customized solutions for any problem. For example, there is a big problem getting boiler tubes cleaned. On one job, Precision Iceblast came in and removed 20 tons of debris from these tubes. But, performance didn’t go up because they couldn’t get inside the tube bundles. The team worked with an engineering company and the customer to figure out how to do it. Then, once they had the solution, the process was patented. Joel says, “It’s those types of relationships that we have with our customers that makes us successful.”
He concludes, “We individualize every single project because every single project is different. It’s not just one size fits all.”