icepigging-slider-6 What is
Ice Pigging?

Ice Pigging is a pipeline cleaning process utilising a two-phase ice and liquid slurry which forms a semi-solid plug within the pipe known as the Ice Pig.

The ice slurry, comprised of very small ice crystals, is pushed through the section of pipe under pressure to carry out the cleaning process. The slurry is pumped into a pipe like a liquid but moves through the pipework like a solid plug, detaching contaminants and fouling from the pipe wall and carrying them out of the pipe entrained within the ice pig.


Ice Pigging has the benefits of solid conventional pigging, but without any of the associated hazards; the Ice Pig can flow like a liquid through obstructions such as

changes in diameter and valves, and it can be inserted and ejected from the pipe using small diameter fittings. In the unlikely event of an Ice Pig becoming stuck it can be left to melt and flushed out after a few hours.


The process can be undertaken on all pipe materials, on a range of diameters from 8mm up to 600mm and on lengths of several kilometres. Ice Pigging cleans in a single pass, so is incredibly fast and water efficient, as well as requiring no specific cleaning chemicals.

The most common reasons for cleaning pipework

Remove accumulations that are causing quality problems for products or water transported in the pipework (i.e. discolouration, taste, odour) or to remove biofilms, particulate contamination or foreign objects

Major overhauls and deep cleans of pipe networks

Provide a clean pipe suitable for a change of use or new product

Extend the life of assets and defer capital spend on pipes and pumps

Pre-commissioning cleaning, to remove fabrication deposits before putting pipework into service

Improve hydraulic performance, by reducing back pressures and increasing flows

De-commissioning cleaning, to remove residues from pipework before it is dismantled or abandoned

Fast: Ice Pigging™ cleans in a single pass so down time of the asset is minimised. Several kilometres of pipe can be cleaned in few hours, smaller pipes can be cleaned in minutes

Low water use: Ice Pigging™ generally requires less water than conventional flushing processes with only 1.5 pipe volumes of water typically required

Quality: Ice Pigging™ produces a superb quality of clean, equal to more intrusive techniques but without the associated risks

Ease: Ice Pigging™ can generally be applied using existing fittings with minimal changes to the pipework

Versatile: Ice Pigging™ adapts to the pipe network, adjusting to varying diameters, bends, obstructions, cleaning as it progresses

Cost: Ice Pigging™ is incredibly cost effective when considering the cleaning effectiveness, the reduction in downtime or cost of replacement pipes

Ice Pigging™ is incredibly versatile and can be used for a diverse range of applications. It is commonly used by water supply and sewage companies as well as a wide range of industries including defence, aerospace, automotive, electronics and district heating; and manufacturing organisations such as chemical and pharmaceutical, health & beauty, paint and coatings.


Although the principles of Ice Pigging™ are common to all applications, every case requires a subtle blend of ice, additives, and quantities according to the type of lines, temperatures and other variables. This level of flexibility allows the ice to be customised for each individual operation or application.


Ice Pigging™ is an environmentally safe process, using significantly less water than other cleaning options and in many cases can instigate a reduction in the energy required as well as remove the need to use chemicals. Waste products from the pipework can be captured and managed appropriately.

Ice Pigging differs from traditional processes; it can work where alternatives may not, providing a faster result, better cleaning with lower risks to pipework and the environment.

How is Ice Pigging™ different to water flushing or dynamic flushing?

The adaptable nature of the Ice Pig™ enables a great range of pipe sizes and networks to be cleaned. With Ice Pigging™, long sections of pipe can be cleaned in one operation, usually between existing fittings which removes the need to break the pipe into sections for water flushing or water jetting. The quality of clean is significantly higher (up to 1000 times cleaner) than can be achieved by water flushing alone. The Ice Pigging™ technique uses less water, and in applications where the pipeline being cleaned contains a product or recoverable material, it enables up to 85% of the product to be recovered from the pipelines. Ice Pigging™ is very quick as pipelines can be cleaned in a single pass, dramatically reducing downtime, improving Overall Operational Effectiveness (OOE) and minimising customer disruption. A cleaning process that might have taken weeks can be achieved in days and what might have taken days can be completed in minutes.

How is Ice Pigging™ different to air scouring or abrasive air cleaning?

Ice Pigging™ is a non-aggressive process that does not damage pipes, pipe linings or ferrules and, by not introducing abnormal stresses to the network, reduces the likelihood of leakage. Ice Pigging™ is faster and can be performed over larger diameters and greater lengths than air scouring. Importantly, the quality of clean is significantly higher.

How is Ice Pigging™ different to conventional pigging and swabbing?

An Ice Pig™ is usually inserted and removed via existing fittings and carries much less risk – if it were ever to get stuck, the ice would simply melt. Conventional and foam pigs present more disruption and risk than Ice Pigging™; the installation of launching chambers is required and if the pig or swab gets stuck it must be located and the site excavated or pipes dismantled to remove it. Ice Pigging™ is less expensive than foam swabbing as typically no excavations are required. Ice Pigging™ is much less disruptive, with pipe outage of only a few hours, compared with days for swabbing. An ice pigged™ pipe can be returned to service immediately; no need for a lengthy chlorination process, and uses less than 50% of the water used in a typical swabbing operation.

With a wealth of collective knowledge and practical experience, The Ice Pigging™ team have developed and delivered this award-winning, patented technology across a variety of sectors worldwide. If you want to know how Ice Pigging™ can solve issues with your pipework systems and processes, and make your cleaning processes more efficient, get in touch.

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