The market for marine coatings has continued to show signs of improvement. Expectations are that growth will continue in 2012 and beyond, as Asia Pacific continues to lead the way in new shipbuilding and dry-docking.
The global marine coatings market started recovering from the economic downturn during 2010 and the global marine market performed as predicted in 2011. “Growth was in the five percent range globally,” said Steve Dickey, global director, marine marketing, The Sherwin-Williams Company. “The expectation for 2012 is continued growth overall at the same level. Growth in Asia will be about where it has been for the last two years. Growth in the rest of the world will be flat at two percent or less.”
With the world economic slowdown, the number of newbuild chemical tankers coming onto the market saw a sharp decrease in 2011, according to Donald Keehan, chairman of Advanced Polymer Coatings (APC). “However, APC’s MarineLine cargo tank coating/lining system was already specified on a number of vessels, so we were able to maintain our momentum,” he said.
For 2012 APC is focusing on several additional markets. “First are product tankers, which are larger ships than chemical carriers,” said Keehan. “These vessels carry bulk liquid cargoes such as clean petroleum products, vegetable oils, biofuels and methanol. The MarineLine system is ideal for these applications. Second, we are focusing on the recoating market. As the previous cargo tank coatings used on chemical and product tankers reach the end of their life cycle, they need to be replaced.”
Ship owners are always looking to obtain the highest return on their investment (ROI). “Coatings are an important part of that mix, whether it be general maintenance coatings, hull coatings or tank coatings,” said Keehan. “Specifically, in addressing our specialty, the cargo tank lining/coating that delivers the best performance helps the ship owner immensely. In a downturn economy that we are seeing now, the ability to quickly and easily switch between cargoes is critical. So you need a coating/lining that cleans easily, and can handle a wide range of various products. That is why MarineLine has seen such growth during the past 10 years.”
There are three main factors contributing to growth in the marine coatings market, according to Dickey. These include the continued expansion of the oil and gas market, more extensive use of coatings to ensure long-term protection of marine assets and the implementation of IMO ballast tank coating rules.
In terms of geographic growth, Asia Pacific continues to be the leading consumer of marine coatings. As the world’s largest producer of newbuild ships as well as being a leader in dry-docking, the Asia Pacific region remains the most important area for marine coatings manufacturers.
“Asia Pacific continues to lead in the global marine coatings market because most of the world’s new builds and dry dockings occur there,” said Dickey. “With China, South Korea and Japan representing nearly 80 percent of world’s newbuilding capacity and China now leading in the number of dry docks and dry dockings, Asia is growing two or three times faster than any other region.”
“Speaking just for MarineLine coatings, our major markets in the world are where ships are constructed, and or repaired,” said Keehan. “This covers much of Asia, especially Korea and China. We work in almost all the leading ports. We have also performed a lot of cargo tank coating work in Europe, with Turkey being a niche leader in building small and mid-size chemical tankers.”
Although the outlook for growth is generally positive, marine coatings manufacturers must still contend with high raw material prices. APC has worked to revise and streamline its polymer manufacturing operation, as the polymer is a key component in its coatings formulations.
“Previously we employed outside chemical companies to toll-manufacture certain elements of the polymer,” said Keehan. “Now these various tasks are done with a joint venture partner to reduce our cost exposure. The cost savings has allowed us to put forth aggressive pricing. We have taken a very competitive pricing stance versus other coatings such as conventional phenolic epoxy cargo tank coatings, while providing a superior product. This is particularly important in the refurbishing market as older product tankers come to dry dock to be retrofitted, including replacing and or upgrading their tank coatings.”
High quality, energy saving products
Reducing solvents and energy savings are two important trends driving the global marine coatings market. According to Dickey, ultra high solids coatings designed for seawater ballast tanks are gaining in popularity. They are nearing 100 percent solids and there is a very small amount of solvent content. “They eliminates solvent retention so the coatings are higher quality and don’t fail as quickly,” Dickey said. “Energy savings underwater hull systems are another trend. Particularly, these coatings can provide energy savings on vessels via lower emissions levels and/or lower operating costs.”
The latest offerings from Sherwin-Williams include FastClad ER and Euronavy ES301.
FastClad ER is a 100 percent solids epoxy amine coating for immersion service in seawater ballast tanks. It has been reported that it has an extremely rapid return to service, low VOC levels and good edge retention. The U.S. Navy has used this product for eight years
Euronavy ES301 can be applied with no dew point restrictions over damp steel surfaces and over flash-rust, reducing application time and costs. Coating can occur immediately after using ultra-high pressure (UHP) water jetting (also known as hydroblasting) or other water preparation methods without drying. Euronavy ES301 also features good edge retention, low VOC and is HAPS-free.
Advanced Polymer Coatings continues to offer the MarineLine coating system, but are now taking this into newer areas such as the larger, growing product tanker market, while still maintaining a strong presence in serving chemical tankers.
According to Keehan, chartering segments, such as biofuels, are enjoying growth. “In this area, growing at an estimated 15 percent annually, ship owners want to get into this market, but they are concerned with carrying biofuels due to the corrosive nature of the cargoes and their detrimental effect and breakdown of a conventional tank coating or the corrosion that occurs in a stainless steel tank,” he said. “MarineLine’s unique corrosion-resistant coating provides a tightly-knit polymer-based structure that can easily handle biofuels.”
In news outside APC’s traditional work on cargo tank coatings, as this issue went to press, the company signed a letter of intent with Reactive Surfaces in Austin, Texas to combine technologies in a joint venture to develop exterior marine coatings functionalized with bio-based additives for submersed hull surfaces and stationary structures (see side bar).
“We hope in the years ahead to take advantage of the growing 'green' trend for non-toxic, low drag underwater vessel surfaces by introducing bio-based functionality into coatings using natural biomaterials, such as proteins and peptides,” said Keehan.
Advanced Polymer Coatings (APC) and Reactive Surfaces have agreed to combine the marine coatings technology of Advanced Polymer Coatings with the surface-modifying additive technology of Reactive Surfaces in order to offer an environmentally benign, bio-based, functional marine coating to the maritime industry.
This line of marine coatings is designed to meet or exceed efficacy of current marine coatings. The companies are gearing up to take advantage of the rapidly growing, world-wide drive toward non-toxic, low drag underwater vessel surfaces with a goal of increasing “slip” through the water by at least two percent over traditional coatings.
APC is a provider of coatings for marine superstructure and tank coatings, including its ChemLine and MarineLine coatings, and with this venture will expand its lines into marine coatings for submersed surfaces. Reactive Surfaces develops bio-based additives designed to bring long-term, stable functionality to coated surfaces, including its self-degreasing additive DeGreez, self-decontaminating additive OPDtox and antimicrobial additive ProteCoat.
Testing will be accomplished using a number of different bio-based additives in a variety of polymer systems in different marine environments, simulating both stationary structures and underway surfaces, and culminating within twelve months with on-ship testing.
The companies will be taking advantage of one of the most recent advancements in coatings technology that adds significantly to the traditional role of a coatings system—bio-based functionality. Natural biomaterials, such as proteins and peptides, provide an enormous resource of functional additives that are non-persistent in the environment, non-toxic and renewable. By focusing on the unique and specific properties of these biomolecules, bio-based additives are being created which will provide a new and innovative function to marine coatings systems, including “recharge-ability” (changing or renewing functionality, without recoating).