Dry Ice: Solid Carbon Dioxide - WorldOfChemicals

Dry Ice: A Cooling Agent

Dry Ice

What is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2), snow-like substance that passes directly into the vapour phase without melting and leaving any residue, unlike water ice. It sublimates at -78.5°C or -109.3 °F at earth atmospheric pressures. It is sometimes referred to as “cardice”.  


Application of Dry Ice

  • Commercial Application

It is mainly used as a cooling agent. Food can be preserved using dry ice through non-cyclic refrigeration. In the absence of mechanical cooling, it is used to package items that should remain in a cold or frozen state like ice creams or biological samples. Insect activity can be checked in closed containers of grains. Dense clouds of smoke-like fog can be created by placing dry ice in water, where its sublimation process is accelerated. Dry ice can be used as bait to trap pests as they get attracted to carbon dioxide. Extermination of rodents can be done by dropping pellets into the underground rodent dwellings and sealing off the entrance, which leads to the suffocation of rodents with the onset of dry ice sublimation. Fire can be fought with the use of tiny ice pellets, which cools fuel as well as suffocates the fire by excluding oxygen.


  • Industrial Application

Valve-less pipes can be repaired by freezing water. Residues from industrial equipment can be removed through blast cleaning, where dry ice pellets are fired from a nozzle with compressed air which combines the power of pellet’s speed along with the sublimation action. Materials such as rubber, oil, ink and paint are removed by blast cleaning. De-gassing of flammable vapours can be executed in storage tanks through the sublimation action of dry ice pellets, which liberates carbon dioxide and carries the flammable vapours along with it as they move outwards.


  • Scientific Application

It is one of the chemicals used for cloud seeding, which is a weather modification method used to increase the amount of precipitation. Suppression of fog and hail are also adopted in airports, where harsh weather conditions are prevalent.


Advantages Of Dry Ice

When utilities such as power or refrigeration machinery fail, refrigerated items can be kept cold by placing them in a vented cooler with dry ice on the bottom. Food can be kept refrigerated or frozen during outings to beaches, fishing, boating and camping with the use of dry ice.


Disadvantages of Dry Ice

Dry ice can cause frostbite, burns and other fatalities when there is direct skin contact. It must be handled carefully with gloves and other protective gear. Dry ice must be used in a properly ventilated area as it liberates carbon dioxide due to sublimation which could cause difficulty in breathing and result in suffocation.

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