Lufthansa Technik AG has developed a unique procedure to wash airplane engines with dry ice, the solid form of CO2. The company has filed several patent applications, which means it can now develop an actual product, which will be called Cyclean Dry Ice. As of 2019, the system will be used alongside the water-based Cyclean engine wash.
During the new engine wash procedure, dry ice pellets that are only a few millimeters in size are shot into the engine via a mobile blasting system. When they hit the components, the pellets release kinetic energy. Through this energy and the contact with the ice-cold pellets (-78.5 degrees Celsius / −109.3 °F), dirt is dislodged from the components.
The new procedure offers a number of advantages: The carbon dioxide used is a by-product of the oil refinery and fertilizer industries so that no additional carbon dioxide has to be generated. Because the pellets transition fully to a gaseous state, there are no residues to deal with. In addition, the procedure can also be applied at outdoor temperatures below freezing. Engines can thus be washed 365 days a year, even in permafrost regions.
The mobile Cyclean Dry Ice washing system is mounted on a platform with an omnidirectional drive. A height-adjustable scissor lift enables fast and thorough cleaning of all engine types, regardless of their size and height. Since there is no need to fasten any pieces of equipment to the engine or to perform a run-up after the engine has been washed, the time needed for the cleaning process—and thus the ground time—is reduced to just 30 minutes compared with conventional engine washes.