Water is one of the most essential human needs. Yet, for something so key to life, hundreds of millions of gallons of H2O are wasted each year on industrial cleaning applications. The ecological impact of this type of consumption is a real concern and has led to the development of an innovative cleaning technology that could potentially replace high-water usage cleaning methods, such as pressure washing, as well as expensive and environmentally detrimental technologies like dry ice blasting and chemical cleaning for certain applications.
This technology was recently employed at a hockey arena in Port Alberni, B.C. Home to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Junior A hockey club, the Alberni Valley Multiplex features two NHL regulation ice surfaces and holds 1,850 spectators. The bleachers stretch toward a towering ceiling spanned by steel beams from which the team’s banners proudly dangle, spoils of past championship victories. The athletes often feel like stars on the ice but the glory of the game quickly washed away when they hit the showers, where 15-year-old wall paint was blistering, splotchy and desperately needed to be redone.
Over the years, arena maintenance staff tried to repair the shower walls by painting overtop existing layers of paint. While this provided a temporary fix, it also resulted in a buildup of paint. Unhappy with the results, staff decided in 2016 that it was time to strip all the paint down to the bare concrete and start anew.
Armed with scrapers, wire brushes and grinders, the cleaning team set to work; however, the task proved more difficult than originally anticipated because there were so many layers of paint on the walls. Complicating the removal process was the paint had been rubberized to prevent water from penetrating the finish and stop mould growth. After a few hours, the cleaning team had made no visible progress beyond exposing a tiny rectangle of concrete. At this pace, they estimated it would take two months or longer to clean the showers in all nine dressing rooms.