Laser Strip: A Portable Stripping Device for Reducing VOC, Toxic and Particulate Emissions

This page updated April 20, 2007.

Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA)

Laser Strip: A Portable Stripping Device for Reducing
VOC, Toxic and Particulate Emissions

Technology and Innovation
A portable pulsed carbon dioxide laser has been developed by Laser Strip for stripping paints or contaminants from surfaces of various kinds, including metals, composites and concrete. The laser generates pulses in the 10.6 micron frequency range. The light is absorbed by paints or other contaminants and the high peak power results in a small explosion of the paint or contaminant, which is vaporized. The light is not absorbed by the substrate and the laser can be tuned to remove coatings or contaminants one at a time. The paint or contaminant is drawn through a HEPA filtration system as it is blown from the surface, removing it from the airflow and the air is returned to the atmosphere. The other laser systems that work similarly to the Laser Strip device are very large and fixed in place, and the direction of the laser beam is not easily manipulated. The strong advantages of the Laser Strip device are that it is portable and the element that emits the beam can be held and directed by the worker’s hand.
The Laser Strip system avoids the emissions and large volumes of waste created by other stripping technologies. Chemical stripping commonly relies on methylene chloride, which is a carcinogen, or alternative compounds that are VOCs. Abrasive blasting creates particulate emissions and solid wastes. Using the alternative laser stripping method could reduce particulate emissions in California by 2.5 tons/day.
Project Description

Laser Strip has a prototype hand-held portable unit with an average power range of 1,500 watts. IRTA and Laser Strip will demonstrate this prototype in four applications:

  • Stripping part of an aircraft at the San Bernardino Airport in an aircraft maintenance hanger.

  • Stripping part of a 150-foot high water tank at the San Bernardino Airport.

  • Stripping a portion of a ship’s hull at a port in Southern California.

  • Stripping a portion of a ship’s internal tank at a port in Southern California.

Data will be collected on the time required, effectiveness, efficiency, and energy use for these stripping applications. These data will enable comparing the cost of the laser stripping device to the costs of the alternative stripping methods used today.

Funding Source

Funding Amount




$           0

Laser Strip and SoCal Edison


ICAT Funded Projects