Ultra-high-pressure (UHP) washing is an effective method of using water streams to remove industrial dirt and contamination without the use of detergents or grit. Leading rope access specialist Skyriders has expanded its capabilities by offering this service on high structures such as smokestacks, silos and storage tanks.
A large petrochemical company in South Africa recently contracted the Skyriders rope access team in June 2015 to remove paint from a petrochemical tank 21 m in diameter and 14 m in height, using the UHP washing process at around 2 800 bar. Skyriders marketing manager Mike Zinn reveals that UHP is a safer and more cost-effective solution for the project, when compared to grit blasting.
“The sand used for grit blasting can pose a safety risk when working on a petrochemical plant, as the tanks remain operational during maintenance. UHP is also environmentally-friendly, owing to the fact that water is used as the alternative to grit blasting. When water is evaporated, it leaves behind only the paint debris from the removal, without the inconvenience from the grit/sand,” he says.
The eight-man Skyriders team successfully completed the six-week project. The work included UHP washing of the petrochemical storage tank and the application of a four coat protective coating system. “The Skyriders team boasts highly-qualified rope access technicians who have intensive training and experience to get the job done quickly and efficiently.”
Although highly-effective, Zinn admits that UHP washing can prove to be extremely dangerous if sufficient precautions are not taken. “Water pressurised at 2 800 bar can cause severe injury and even death. As a result, our team of rope access technicians are trained by Total Blasting, a leading high pressure washing trainer and equipment supplier in South Africa,” he continues.
In addition to the necessary training, Zinn adds that the Skyriders team is also provided with the relevant personal protective equipment (PPE), including; specialised pressure suits, boots, shoe guards, jackets and protective gloves. “These precautions, combined with the proven safety of rope access, resulted in a turnkey solution that was entirely safe and cost-effective,” he concludes.