The nuclear industry has long been a target for Optimum to break into. This massive sector hasn’t quite embraced dry ice blasting in the UK, as it has done in the rest of the world for use in the clean out stage of a decommissioning programme.
But after a series of successful trials during a POCO (post op clean out) last week, we are hoping that things are about to change for Optimum and the UK dry ice blasting sector in general.
And the reason why dry ice blasting is so successful? Sublimation.
On contact with a surface, dry ice pellets turn from a solid (frozen Co2) back to a gas (Co2) without passing through any other phase (water or solid). This process is called sublimation and it means that no secondary waste stream or residues are formed.
Traditionally the removal of well adhered contaminants for the POCO of scale and precipitates would have been either grit blasting or bead blasting used in a water stream. This form of blast media will shatter on impact, causing a) fine dust to go airborne and which then becomes contaminated itself and b) a contaminated water pool which is difficult to control. This secondary waste creation can cost thousands of pounds to remove on top of the original clean out.
This week all Optimum crews are carrying out our IRR99 safety training for dry ice blasting in the nuclear industry along with gaining our EPR2010 permits. This will put us on a good footing and forward facing when tasked with the many challenges that are associated with nuclear decommissioning work.
By Ian Reynolds