Engineered floor coatings give you a big advantage

June 7, 2006
Engineered coatings provide new levels of maintenance efficiency, energy savings and safety. Advances in materials science are opening new doors for industrial coatings, says Sheila Kennedy in her monthly Technology Toolbox column.

Innovative approaches to conventional product engineering are generating performance characteristics that weren’t previously possible. Engineered coatings provide new levels of maintenance efficiency, energy savings and safety. They’re easier to apply and more cost-effective than their predecessors, and they help extend equipment life. These qualities are in universal demand and new applications are continually being developed.

Corrosion protection and insulation

Routine inspections become complex when opaque insulation and corrosion protection technologies obscure access to equipment. Nanotechnology-based clear coatings alleviate this issue by doubling as a window to the substrate.

Industrial Nanotech's translucent Nansulate Thermal Insulation coatings don’t need to be removed for ultrasound or visual inspections because you can see right through them. The coating’s durable, nanoscale structure conducts heat poorly. It provides corrosion protection, thermal insulation and mold resistance to steel, aluminum, fiberglass, PVC, wood, concrete, plastic and other surfaces. It also resists certain classes of chemicals and won’t trap mold, dirt or moisture — agents that can cause corrosion under insulation.

“Pipes, tanks, ducts and walls can be coated to control heat transfer, reduce surface temperatures and insulate the component while protecting the surface from degradation and hazardous factors,” says Francesca Crolley, Industrial Nanotech’s vice president of operations and marketing.

The oil and gas industry is a prime candidate for this technology because of its rigorous pipeline inspection regulations and need to prevent corrosion, the cause of the oil spill in Alaska in March. Incidents like this result in lost production, costly repairs and clean-up — not to mention the public relations headache. Nansulate is designed for high-performance industrial maintenance and OEM applications, and it’s non-hazardous, water-based and environmentally safe.

Protective films

Engineered fluoropolymer systems based on cold gas plasma surface modification have opened new doors for fluoropolymer sheet and film products. Integument’s peel-and-stick FluoroGrip UV-stable Teflon film is a transparent coating that serves well where conventional films had been unsuitable. The see-through film stands up to acids, dirt, grime and graffiti. It forms a permanent protective bond to substrates such as signs, steel and concrete structures, equipment and glass.

The company uses a covalent chemical bond to adhere adhesives and coatings to the surfaces of any fluoropolymer film. Previously, physical degradation such as etching promoted adhesion, but this technique yielded a shorter lifespan. The FluoroGrip bond withstands extreme temperature cycling, UV rays and aggressive chemicals including acids.

FluoroGrip protective film prevents surface damage, provides corrosion protection and is easy to clean. No volatile organic compounds (VOC) or hazardous solvents are required, thus improving workplace safety and eliminating the need for solvent-related protective clothing and equipment.

RF monitoring and control

Radio-frequency (RF) interference, whether it comes from within a building or the outside, can range from a minor annoyance to a great security or operational risk. Traditional ways to manage RF energy have proven to be costly and cumbersome.

NaturalNano has developed a nano-augmented coating that may soon simplify shielding with a spray-on paint formulation that blocks RF energy. When applied to a wall, it blocks or reduces RF radiation from entering or exiting the area, allowing the building manager to monitor and control the use of cell phones, WiFi and other two-way electronic devices.

NaturalNano’s shielding paint technology is passive, meaning it doesn’t discriminate among frequency ranges and applications. However, when combined with Ambit Corporation's electronic filter technology, access to specific radio, cellular and WiFi signals can be turned on and off. This allows the building owner to enable communications at specific frequencies or for specific uses. Authorized users can log onto private networks in areas that are otherwise RF shielded.

Constructing RF shielded environments was once a capital-intensive undertaking. NaturalNano believes its spray-on technology may provide a more cost-effective alternative, particularly in retrofit situations. Commercial versions of RF shielding paints are on the horizon.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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