Continental Carbonic, a provider of dry ice equipment, offers technology using dry ice to blast away debris and contaminants from food processing equipment. Suited for baking operations and other food production applications, the method takes pelletized pieces of dry ice (chilled to -109 degrees F) and uses high-pressure air to accelerate the pellets into food equipment surfaces.
Steve Sullivan, director of sales for Continental Carbonic, told FoodProductionDaily the dry-ice blasting freezes the contaminants at a rate faster than the equipment or machinery they are adhered to.
"It’s like freezing bubble gum—it doesn’t get sticky anymore, and it loses its adhesive qualities," he said. "The nice thing with dry ice is when it freezes whatever the contaminant is (be it baking grease or any kind of powder, or ingredients from baking), it will fall to the floor; there’s nothing left over except what you’re trying to clean.
One key advantage to the use of dry ice to clean food equipment, Sullivan said, is the absence of water.
"Water is the enemy of any kind of plant where you’ve got food," he said. "Water promotes bacterial growth—E. coli, Salmonella, mold; with this product, it eliminates the introduction of water."
Additionally, Sullivan told FPD, dry-ice blasting can be performed on the plant floor, while the equipment is hot.
"In a lot of cleaning applications you’ve got to cool the equipment down completely, disassemble it, take it out, clean it, put it back together and heat it up," he said. "With dry ice blasting, you can keep the equipment hot and in place."
In fact, Sullivan said, the dry-ice blasting works best if the equipment is kept hot. The discrepancy in cooking or baking temperature and the sub-zero temperature of the dry ice creates a thermal shock effect that causes contaminants to break away and fall to the floor.
The dry-ice blasting technique reportedly requires little training, and only some basic personal protective equipment (safety goggles, ear plugs, etc.).
Sullivan spoke to FPD at IFT 2014, the recent conference and exposition focused on food safety, processing, ingredients, and packaging.