Introducing Ice Storm90™
Coulson Ice Blast offers an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to clean heavy equipment
Coulson Ice Blast began as a solution to the Coulson Group's aviation problem. Foster Coulson's grandfather created the Coulson Group in 1960, first as a road construction company, then eventually moving into logging. Foster’s father kept the business in the family, but branched the Coulson Group into the aviation field. Today, its primary business is aviation, but the company has found a niche in industrial cleaning.
“In 2012, we needed to de-paint one of our aircraft,” Coulson said. “It’s the Martin Mars water bomber. It’s the largest water bomber in the world.”
The aircraft was sitting lakeside, unable to move away from the water because it doesn’t have wheels. They looked at different technologies to try to de-paint it, but current options would create too much of a hazard being beside a lake.
“One of our engineers said that he knew of a technology that was developed in the '90s that had some success. They used ice to clean,” Coulson said.
The company that created it ended up in bankruptcy, but Coulson’s engineer recreated the technology and they bought what was left of the company.
“We had to learn a bit about the business, and what the industry needed,” he said. The Coulson Group assembled a team to create the product they offer now: Ice Storm90™.
The benefits of the Ice Storm90™
Coulson Ice Blast’s product is unique because of the use of standard ice—the same kind that is sold at gas stations across the country. Ice Storm90™ is an environmentally friendly option that offers lower operational costs, and improves worker health and safety.
Despite its beginning in their aviation business, “we’ve seen that our technology is actually best suited in mining operations,” Coulson said. The reason? It meets the requirements of the more stringent regulations mining and energy operations must meet.
For cleaning purposes in the mining industry, minimizing water use and production is key. “These are water-sensitive areas," Coulson said. Compared to the option of a pressure washer, “we are a bit of a wet process, but we still used 95 per cent less water.” This also eliminates the risk of covering a site in ice from excessive water use.
Compared to dry ice, which creates airborne contaminants, Ice Storm90™ cleans more effectively onsite at mining operations. Compared to abrasive blasting with different natural materials, which may seem environmentally friendly, Ice Storm90™ eliminates airborne contaminants that are still not safe in many operations. “At the end of the day, you’re still putting airborne contaminants in the atmosphere. You’re still releasing CO2. There are still many hazards,” Coulson said.
How does Ice Storm90™ clean?
Ice Storm90™ is a small device similar to a dry ice blast machine: about 30 inches wide, 40 inches high and 36 inches long. Standard ice cubes are placed inside, and the machine is ready to blast through any of the hose and nozzle options.
The ice cleans in three phases. “When the ice initially hits, it removes the majority of what you are blasting,” said Coulson. “As the ice breaks down, each particle acts like a scrub brush, scrubbing the surface. Finally, it turns to a liquid for the final rinse.” At this point, most of the water evaporates, leaving very little wetness around the cleaning area.
The Ice Storm90™ comes with training videos, but is very simple to operate. Anyone familiar with industrial cleaning equipment will have no problem adopting this machine.
Overall, the Ice Storm90™ is less expensive and much safer for workers, while simultaneously good for the environment. “We are creating a lot of value for our customer, and I think that’s part of the reason for our success,” Coulson said. Coulson’s customers often ask why this simple technology didn’t hit the market sooner. Ice Storm90™ meets a demand for innovation in green cleaning techniques—the aspect of many operations that is often overlooked in terms of efficiency and environmental responsibility.