Dry Ice Blasting Benefits Bio-ethanol Producers
I have spoken before about the importance of keeping process machinery clean, not only to reduce critical maintenace time but also to increase production values. You can read some of the blogs here.
Another recent coup for Dry Ice Blasting has emerged in the form of Ethanol Production. Traditionally deep cleaning of Bio-ethanol production plants has been with high pressure water (Hydro Blasting) which comes with many challenges. Mainly that the water can damage the insulating refractory blocks. If the blocks become wet then they have to be replaced, at a significant cost.
Most companies simply avoid cleaning the economisers where the blocks are situated, resulting in clogged stacks and lost efficiency. Where water is used, covering delicates such as electronics and computer chips, is a laborious job in itself, with an extended downtime to make sure everything is fully dry upon restart. Even after the water has gone, mould can still be an ongoing problem.
Dry ice blasting however, is the perfect solution to removing the DDGS (Distillers Dried Grains) from the process areas throughout the plant. Dry ice blasting easily cleans the economiser, ID fans, grain tunnels and pits and the boiler tubes without damaging the substrate of the equipment being cleaned. Dry ice blasting is a dry process, meaning it is safe around electrical items, doesn’t use any chemicals and creates no secondary waste stream. The perfect solution to clean down Ethanol Production Plants.
The results for our customer have been assessed as roughly a 20 to 25 degree drop in the temperature of the stack after dry ice blasting resulting in production increases. Economiser coils heat the water as part of the Ethanol Production process. When the coils are contaminated they are less efficient at heating water which has a direct result on the amount of natural gas purchased. By deep cleaning with dry ice blasting the coils run more efficiently, reducing the need for natural gas. Reduced downtime for cleaning by using dry ice blasting has also made a big impact on increasing Bio-ethanol production rates. The increases have been calculated at roughly £60k per annum in natural gas savings, based upon 2 dry ice blasting cleans per year.
All in all, another great example of how reducing downtime and keeping process equipment clean, can save a company money in the long run.
By Ian Reynolds