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Who Invented Dry Ice And How Is It Used For Surface Cleaning?

There are multiple ways to blast clean a surface, but dry ice blasting can sometimes be the ideal solution, if not the only realistic option in some cases.

Typically, most blast cleaning methods leave some form of abrasive residue as part of the cleaning process. This is most notably the case with sandblasting, but certain types of water blasting which can also use abrasive additives leave abrasive residue and water as an additional contaminant to be removed. 

By contrast, dry ice instantly turns into carbon dioxide gas. This makes it ideal to avoid further contamination of, for example, buildings damaged by fire. But it must be noted that the original contaminant (such as soot) is dislodged from a surface and still needs sweeping or vacuuming up. 

However, the original purpose of dry ice was not blast cleaning, but instead, as the name suggests, was intended for use for refrigeration by its original inventor, Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier.

Son of a lawyer who was part of the court proceedings of the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace that led to the French Revolution, the younger Mr Thilorier had started to experiment with the compression of gasses and the production of liquid carbon dioxide.

However, in 1835, he found that if he fired a jet of liquid carbon dioxide into a glass container, it created a white, powdery substance, although he needed to be told that what he had discovered was solid carbon dioxide.

This would typically be used in combination with diethyl ether to create an extremely cold solution that would maintain temperatures around -110 degrees Celsius, a concoction known as Thilorier’s mixture.

Unfortunately, a lot of his discoveries were not initially credited to him. Because he typically only used his surname in technical articles, he was confused with another man by the name of Charles-Saint-Ange Thilorier.

Dry ice has since gone on to have a huge number of purposes, from smoke machines to extremely efficient blast cleaning, but its accidental discovery will never be forgotte

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