The ice Pig (pipeline inspection gauge) is transforming the way drinking-water pipes are cleaned and maintained.
Developed by Professor Joe Quarini to clean pipes more thoroughly and produce less waste, the technique pumps a thick ice slurry into the piping; the ice slurry or ice pig is then propelled through the pipe sweeping away debris and sediment. Once it has left the pipe, the ice pig melts into water, making it easily disposable and hazard free.
Cleaning product from pipes in the food industry
Professor Quarini first devised the idea to engineer a cost-effective way of cleaning product from pipes in the food industry.
Before this, huge amounts of water were used in attempts to displace valuable food material from equipment, this then had to be followed by an expensive hot caustic soda solution; the technique created unusable waste product with the added cost of disposing it. The new ice pig technology makes the difficult, time consuming and expensive task of removing waste product quick to undertake and removes the need for harsh chemicals, making this a green way of cleaning whilst improving productivity and saving money.
This pioneering method was then developed further, in order to clean water pipes, and is fast becoming the preferred water pipe cleaning technique for the water industry, with exclusive worldwide rights for the technology being licensed to Agbar Environment.
Adapting its shape to fill the most complex of pipes
Unlike the traditional pigs used for water lines, which can become inflexible when navigating some of the complicated internal workings of pipes, the ice pig forms a soft plug from its slushy consistency which pushes through the pipe scouring it effectively, adapting its shape to fill the most complex of pipes.
This improves pipe flow and produces cleaner water, making it better for the consumer. The water companies benefit from reduced customer complaints associated with discoloured water.
"I am pleased that ice pigging was identified by recognised water industry experts, and delighted that the technology has been taken on by Agbar who have the ability to ‘roll-out’ the technology throughout the world."
Further developments of the Ice Pig will see the creation of the Beer Pig. The concept is the same; use a slush of ice to clean through pipe work, but this technique would freeze the product itself rather than water so that the ‘waste’ produced is consumable, saving money for both producer and customer.
Since its creation ‘ice pigging’ has been the subject of much attention, initially used in the food industry, it has already been adapted for water supply companies and has the potential to be developed further for use in the nuclear industry.