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Continuous Improvement – Dry ice cleaning

4 May 2022

The build-up of dirt and grease during steelmaking can affect the operational reliability of equipment and have a visual impact on the workplace. In many cases, the cleaning cannot easily be done through conventional methods.

The team at our Austube Mill in Newcastle were looking for safe, economical, and effective ways of cleaning delicate equipment, like electrical components, and other challenging areas on site.

And they found it – dry ice!

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide which is mostly used as a cooling agent, but most of us would know it from fog machines at theatres and parties.

The cleaning process our team used involved firing dry ice pellets at a surface but instead of relying on abrasion to clean the surface, like with sand blasting, it’s the freezing temperature of the pellets that lifts the dirt. And because dry ice doesn’t have a liquid form, it doesn’t leave any residue or moisture behind. This makes it safe and effective to use on our electrical control cabinets and consoles, and perfect for other areas which are challenging to clean, such as the enamel-based paint machine area at our Newcastle Austube Mill.

Appropriate safety protocols are needed for the use of the dry ice medium, so our team partnered with a local professional business for this.  As with any new techinique in our workplace, the method needs to be risk assessed before any new applications.

Dry ice cleaning is restoring the visual standard of our equipment, creating a positive workplace, and making operator duties easier. It’s also reducing the risk of hand injury during cleaning as no tools are used.

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