Sealed and Delivered

A ccording to the World Corrosion Organization, the global cost of corrosion is estimated to be $2.2 trillion. Corrosion is defined by the degradation of a substrate due to its interaction with the environment.  

In the mining and energy industry, a company’s assets will get exposed to very harsh conditions and without a plan in place, it can quickly become a very costly situation. It’s well known that it only costs a fraction of the investment to maintain an asset opposed to replacing it, but it’s not always implemented out in the field.  A common solution for tackling this corrosion challenge is using a coating or lining system to protect the substrate from these corrosive elements.  

In the early 1900s, there were only a few choices to consider when looking at these types of applications. Over the years, the various options proliferated and now there are thousands of choices to choose from.  To help with this process, we have narrowed it down to few basic criteria that will help a company make the right choice. 

Understand the Environment

Whether it’s in the oilfield project in the Bakken or a mining operation in South East Asia, temperature, humidity and weather can have a big effect on the selection process of a coating. For instance, in humid environments, you need to find a coating that can cure even when there is water present. 

Epoxies generally require a temperature of 40F or 10C to cure properly so, in cold climates industrial heaters need to be utilized to increase the substrate temperature or a cold weather application coating would need to be used. Some cold weather coatings can cure in conditions as low as -40F if required. If it’s an exterior coating application, then UV resistance is important to ensure the coating system will not break down.

Sustainability and Safety

The mining and energy sectors are under great scrutiny when it comes to environmental and safety practices.  Since 2012, the current worth of the global green coatings market is estimated to be around $60.6 billion. By 2018, the green coatings marketing is projected to reach $85.7 billion due to the sheer increase in new environmental regulations and consumer demand.

This means that the availability of industrial coatings that are sustainable, durable and cost effective have greatly increased. The characteristics of a sustainable and safe coating would be the following:

    + Coating products that do not produce noxious emissions during the manufacturing and application process.
    + 100% solid coating products that contain no solvents.
    + Coating products that do not require solvents for the clean-up process.
    + Coating product that are made with renewable materials such as plants.
    + Coating products that are not toxic to dispose of.
    + Coating products that do not have flashpoints (flammable).

Most manufacturers will provide clear guidance on what sort of measures the company needs to make to keep the worksite safe for all the people involved.

Performance

There are many factors that determine the performance of the coating system. In atmospheric applications, there are not as many risk factors, but if the application involves immersion or containment, then the coating requirements increase substantially. For instance, if you have a storage tank that needs to hold a corrosive liquid, then chemical compatibility is a primary concern along with other factors like temperature range of the liquid. Chemical compatibility can be checked by referring to the manufacturer’s chemical compatibility list or if the mixture is proprietary, then it can be tested in a lab environment. Lab results alone are sometimes sufficient, but it’s always good if there are actual field-installed applications that are similar in some way to the proposed application.

If the tank contains mud or slurry, then the abrasive resistance would have to be examined. Certifications such as NSF/ANSI-61 are needed if the application involves potable water.

If the substrate goes through expansion, contraction or is subject to reverse impacts, then good elongation properties are a must. Typical elongation properties of epoxies are only about 3 percent and therefore they do not perform well under those conditions. It’s worth noting that if the coating is too flexible it may compromise the chemical resistance due to the permeability of the coating. Pick your properties carefully because all of these factors affect the expected service life of the coating system.

Costs

The cost is directly related to the specification. The price of the material per gallon, the amount of material used to achieve the desired result and the surface preparation required will determine the cost of the project.  For instance, some coating systems only require 20 mils to achieve the desired results, where other coating systems require 80 mils to achieve the same objective. It’s also good to note what type of surface preparation is required on the job. There is a substantial difference in cost between a NACE #1 (no discoloration) surface prep vs. a NACE #3 (minor discoloration less than 33%) surface prep.  Some coating systems also require a primer layer or multiple coats to achieve the necessary protection.  The surface or anchor profile (roughness) that needs to be achieved is dependent on adhesion strength of your coating system.

One other factor to consider is downtime considerations. How much will it cost you to have the facility or asset out of service?  If it costs you millions of dollars a day, then a fast cure coating solution would be a must.

In order to understand the total cost of the solution, it’s important to understand the ongoing costs involved with the coating system. The two areas to consider is the inspection requirement for the coatings and the reparability of the coating. If the coating can’t be repaired in small sections in the future, then any damage to the coating will involve a complete removal of the coating system.

Corrosion is a major issue in mining and energy-related industries. It could mean the difference between running a successful operation and one that loses money. There are many options out there, but by being diligent with your process and working with a qualified professional, you’ll most likely lead to a successful result. 

Tatsuya Nakagawa is the vice president of marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products (www.castagra.com), an industrial coatings manufacturing company. 

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