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By: Dom Ash, Ice Pigging Process Engineer
Believe it or not, just like food products most paints and coatings will spoil after time due to the presence of bacteria, unless adequately protected. Spoilage affects the appearance, smell and effectiveness of the paint leading to a reduction in the shelf life of the product. As such, biocides are typically added during manufacture to inhibit bacterial growth and prolong the life of the material.
However, upcoming changes in legislation will prohibit the use of some of the primary biocides used in the industry, leaving manufacturers with few remaining alternatives. Since preservatives may no longer be a feasible option, prohibiting the entry of microbes into the product would appear to be a direction the P&C industry must take. This change towards hygienic production will affect the design of equipment, operational procedures and the implementation of new processes and techniques – such as Ice Pigging.
One of the key elements of inhibiting bacterial growth in P&C processing is to eliminate the environments in which microbes can thrive. One such area is paint residues left in processing lines which provide an ideal habitat for bacterial growth and should be removed. Many paint plants use traditional solid pigs to recover product and remove the bulk of material from the pipe walls, but are often found to leave smears and trails of paint where the pig has become damaged. These paint remnants will therefore build up over time and require removal by a secondary method – typically water jetting or manual scrubbing.
Recent testing at the SUEZ Ice Pigging test lab in Bristol, UK, has demonstrated the ability of Ice Pigging to successfully maintain the cleanliness of a paint transfer line. The testing involved multiple paint transfers and extended periods of waiting during which paint residues were allowed to coagulate.
Whilst the Ice Pig provides a relatively ‘soft’ clean and will not remove completely hardened paint, it was shown to be effective at removing paint residue left for an extended period of eight days in a sealed pipe. It is hoped that the process can be used to either replace or work in tandem with traditional pigging systems to remove the paint smears left in process lines.