For Time Savings & White Glove-Clean Turbines, Dry Ice Blasting Reigns Supreme
When it comes to keeping natural gas turbines clean and operating at peak capacity, much is at stake for power plants. Tiny deficiencies in improperly maintained and under-inspected machines can lead to inefficiencies, broken blades, and even catastrophic failure.
Ironically, some cleaning methods used to ready turbines for essential inspections can cause just as much harm as they are intended to prevent. If a process leaves any foreign material in a unit’s bottom casing, the damage can be both extensive and expensive: particles as small as a paperclip could result in millions of dollars in damage.
That’s why choosing the right cleaning method is crucial.
Turbine Cleaning Alternatives
Compared to abrasive blasting, dry ice blasting is the clear winner because it:
- Can be used on every part of the machine: rotors, turbine discs and blades, compressors, bottom and top casings, windings and stator vanes
- Can be cleaned in situ and does not require full disassembly
- Does not introduce foreign material
- Does not require additional manual cleanup
Dry ice blasting also removes carbon buildup from turbine blades more effectively than more manual methods and in a fraction of the time.
But what about other, seemingly more gentle methods of cleaning? Do hand cleaning, steam and sponge blasting hold their own against the benefits of dry ice blasting?
Read on to see how these alternative turbine cleaning methods compare. (Spoiler: dry ice blasting is still the fastest and most effective method.)
Comparing Cleaning Methods: Hand, Steam, Sponge & Dry Ice
Hand cleaning is the slowest and least effective method for cleaning turbines. The process can take up to a week and, despite the laboriousness of the process, often does a poor job of thoroughly removing built-up carbon residue from units.
While manual cleaning may save some money in the short-term, the process ties crews up for several shifts. That means time that should be spent performing testing and maintenance related tasks is delayed, which sometimes results in prolonged outages.
Steam cleaning uses pressurized vapor to loosen debris. Even though most providers claim steam cleaning is a “dry” process, it creates a considerable amount of condensation. That condensation mixes with existing grime and creates mud that requires time-intensive manual clean-up.
Furthermore, the moisture introduced by steam makes turbines vulnerable to rust and corrosion, which can weaken parts and shorten the unit’s life span.
The one benefit of steam cleaning is reduced disruption from noise. Unlike other cleaning methods, steam cleaning is relatively quiet and does not interfere with radio traffic used by crane operators.
Sponge blasting uses tiny bits of synthetic sponge infused with micro-abrasive particles to remove hard-to-clean residue. Similar to abrasive cleaning, sponge blasting leaves behind foreign material that requires containment and secondary clean-up.
Because sponge blasting can leave destructive particles behind, it poses the same risks as abrasive cleaning and is generally not recommended for use on natural gas turbines.
Dry Ice Blasting
A gas turbine before (left) & after (right) dry ice blasting
Dry ice blasting uses tiny pellets of frozen CO2 to blast off grime. Because dry ice sublimates on contact, no moisture or foreign materials are introduced. The threat of damage from secondary debris or rust propagation is eliminated and no secondary cleanup is required.
Compared to the methods above, dry ice cleaning is significantly faster and more effective – that’s why many power generation professionals rely on this method to quickly, safely and effectively clean their turbines in preparation for inspections.
|Time (In Shifts)|
|Presence of Foreign Material|
|Introduction of Moisture|
|Additional Manual Cleanup Required|
|White Glove Clean|
Rely on Polar Clean for Rapid Responses & Thorough Cleanings
The Polar Clean team of professionals has over a decade of experience using dry ice blasting to keep gas turbines clean, properly functioning and prepared for inspections. With less downtime than other cleaning methods, our dry ice blasting services can restore turbines to a like-new clean.
Outside of routine service, Polar Clean is also available for emergency maintenance. Our relationships with preferred ice vendors and extensive geographic reach mean a crew can be on-site to assist within 24 hours, regardless of where in the country you are.
Beyond turbines, our team is trusted by countless clients to clean up some of their toughest messes at power plants (including HRSGs), petrochemical plants, manufacturing facilities and more.
For more information about dry ice blasting for turbines, contact us to speak with a Polar Clean dry ice blasting professional.
Contact us to learn more about dry ice blasting for turbines