This was evident at press conferences by Hempel and PPG Industries on the latest new products created by their R&D operations.
Denmark-based Hempel introduced to journalists in London in early September a new anti-fouling system consisting of three coatings, a significant reduction on the usual five to six protective layers on ship’s hulls. “We aim to develop in the longer term a single coat solution,’’ said Davide Ippolito, Hempel’s head of marine group product management.
The company is expanding its R&D operations by opening a new research center in Denmark that will staff 100.
Hempel Foundation, the company’s owners, established in early 2017 a coatings research unit at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – Coatings Science and Technology Centre (CoaST).
The center covers coatings’ raw materials, formulation, testing, production and applications.
At a presentation of a range of new products at Montreux, Switzerland, in late August, PPG also highlighted the ability of its innovations to raise the productivity levels of its customers.
In the marine coatings sector, reductions in shipyard capacity, particularly in the large centers of vessel building in countries like China and South Korea, are resulting in owners making greater use of dry docks for repairs and maintenance, rather than investing in new ships. To keep down costs they want to ensure that their vessels spend as little time in the dry docks as possible.
Hempel’s new marine coating – Hempaguard MaX – aims to reduce speed loss through its anti-fouling properties and minimize dry dock times. “Faster in the dock; faster in the sea,’’ said Ippolito.
The MaX’s three-coat system provides ships with a smoother hull, reducing drag and results in lower fuel requirements with a guaranteed maximum speed loss of 1.2 percent over
With the coating being applied in just three layers, dry dock time is decreased by up to two days. When the savings from the dry dock costs are combined with the lower fuel consumption the cost of the coating is paid back within three months.
“Hempaguard MaX is the next logical step for ship owners and operators seeking to maximize their efficiency and reduce associated CO2 emissions,’’ said Ippolito.
Compared with traditional coatings, the fuel savings amount to around 14 percent due to the low average hull roughness delivered by the whole coating system, low-speed loss over the full operational period and improved anticorrosive properties, according to Ippolito.
The three-coat MaX is the successor to the five-coat Hempaguard X7 system, which combines a silicone top coating with a hydrogel microlayer with a biocides controlled-release mechanism.
Since its 2013 launch, it has been fully applied to over 1,400 vessels. The company calculates that the system has saved a total of $500 million in bunker fuel costs for all the ships’ owners.
The top Hempaguard X8 coat in the MaX system has a similar silicone hydrogel combination but with an improved hydrogel layer and a controlled release technology requiring only five percent biocides. ‘’We don’t need to use a lot of biocides to raise the anti-fouling effectiveness of the system,’’ Ippolito explained.
The other two coatings comprise a primer – Hempaguard Immerse 900 – and a single Nexus ii tie coating in the middle, instead of two in the X7 system.
The primer is mainly an epoxy resin layer with aluminum pigments which help to boost the MaX system’s anti-corrosion performance.
A key role in the system is played by the tie coating which provides the synergies between the primer and the top layer.
“It is rather like a double-sided tape with a silicone part to interact with the top coating and mostly epoxy resin part to link with the primer,’’ said Ippolito. “The difficulty has been providing two characteristics based on silicone and epoxy resin in one coating.’’
With Hempaguard MaX and other products, Hempel has been making increasing use of data as a platform for innovation and support services.
The MaX system aims to be a global product which can be used around the world. So the company has put a lot of work into the measuring of water temperatures in different regions to ensure that the anti-fouling properties remain effective in different locations.
“With this coating, customers can trade where they want around the world without being concerned about water temperatures which can influence fouling levels,’’ said Ippolito.
Hempaguard MaX customers will be able to capitalize on a data-based Hempel-devised program of continuous improvement, called Systems for Hull and Propeller Efficiency (SHAPE).
Data on hull performance is collected and then analyzed by chemists, physicists and experts in hydrodynamics to provide key performance indicators to customers.
The program aims to help ship owners and operators to make “fact-based” decisions on the most efficient way to operate vessels in terms of steaming speed and trading patterns.
Data is a prominent feature in the customization of some of PPG’s coatings, like those in the Xylan protective portfolio now owned by the company after its acquisition of Whitford Worldwide Company (Elverson, Pennsylvania).
Whitford makes low friction, wear-resistant coatings for industrial applications in the automotive, aerospace, energy and constructions markets, while also producing nonstick coatings for food appliances.
Xylan coatings comprise lubricants combined in a matrix with temperature-resistant polymers able to perform under heavy loads in high temperatures, in corrosive environments.
“They work within a system of controlled friction,’’ Mark Poland, technical manager PPG-Whitford, Runcorn, England, explained at the Montreux meeting. “We can measure the friction levels and modify the lubricants to the levels of friction needed to meet the customer’s needs.
“The lubricants can increase the load-bearing capabilities of the coatings so that lubrication is maintained even under extreme pressure conditions,’’ he continued. “Controlled friction raises the uniformity of the load-bearing and temperature resistance within the coating, which helps to extend the life of components and base substrates.’’
The monitoring and measurement of data have increasingly become a key source of greater efficiency in protective coatings.