Nanomaterials in the Protective Coatings Industry

Nanomaterials may be some of the smallest substances known to man, but in the world of coatings they’ve grown to be a pretty big deal. In just the past couple decades, nanomaterials have gone from being little more than a novel concept to becoming a key player in the advancement of coating technology as we know it, all thanks to the research and implementation by a very select few. In today’s article we’ll be exploring the history, current role, and future of nanomaterials in protective coatings for industrial grade applications.

Nanomaterials Defined

To be classified as a nanomaterial, a unit of a material must be so small that it is most effectively measured in the nanometer range. These substances are virtually imperceptible to the naked eye, and even fall below the resolution that can be detected by most common optical microscopes. Despite being so small, nanomaterials exist in a variety of configurations including wires, fibers, and films.

Carbon Nanotubes

At Tesla NanoCoatings, we utilize carbon nanotubes in nearly all of our protective coatings. Carbon nanotubes fall under the nanomaterial categorization, as each individual tube has a wall thickness of just a single carbon atom. Although individual carbon nanotubes are practically imperceptible due to their size, their inclusion in our coatings is integral to the strength, corrosion resistance, and longevity that places our coatings in a league all their own. We’re proud to be the one and only company in the world that has brought carbon nanotubes out of the laboratory and into a real world application where their amazing properties can truly shine.

The History of Nanomaterials in Protective Coatings

The history of nanomaterials in protective coatings for extreme applications like the offshore industry began right here at Tesla NanoCoatings shortly after the turn of the century.

The Challenges of Traditional Protective Coatings

Our founder and CEO, Todd Hawkins, formerly served as an engineer at one of the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world. During his time there he was frustrated and perplexed by the lack of effective methods for protecting some of the strongest components that the company manufactured from the threat of corrosion. At the time, those industrial grade steel components were only protected by cadmium plating. Worse yet, it was just a temporary fix to a much larger issue.

Todd Hawkins imagined a solution that would address corrosion protection for components used in harsh environments. He drew inspiration from protective coatings which applied easily, and the industry standard of plating which demonstrated great strength.

The Impact of Nanomaterials

The solution of his dreams became a reality in 2007, a pivotal year for the protective coatings industry. This was the year that Todd Hawkins founded Tesla NanoCoatings, a technology company dedicated to elevating the standards of the protective coatings industry with a solution unlike any other that had been seen before. Through intensive research, it was discovered that the addition of carbon nanotubes could exponentially increase the durability and corrosion resistance of epoxy paint coating systems that were commonly used in the offshore industry. That research served as the baseline from which our signature TESLAN coatings were developed.

Nanomaterials in The Coatings Industry Today

Today, carbon nanotubes remain unchallenged as the most influential nanomaterial to be used in the coatings industry as we know it. These tiny tubes have all but transformed the realm of what’s possible with protective coating systems in traditionally challenging applications such as marine, midstream, and offshore environments.

Cost Effectiveness

Getting nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes to a point where their inclusion in a coating formula was financially feasible was no small feat. We’ve found ways to offer our carbon nanotube coatings at an attractive price point that enables a swift return on investment for our customers.

Corrosion Prevention

Traditional paint style coatings like zinc epoxy systems are far outshined by carbon nanotube coatings in terms of effective corrosion prevention. Where other systems fail to withstand harsh conditions, carbon nanotube coatings protect steel structures from corrosion in tropical and offshore settings without wavering.

Strength & Coating Longevity

Traditional coating systems have been observed to last from as little as 6 months to just 5 years. With the inclusion of carbon nanotubes, our coatings have been observed to last for well over 10 years with no signs of wear or warnings of potential failure.

Meeting Quality Standards

With the enhanced coating properties that come as a result of the addition of carbon nanotubes, meeting offshore quality standards like NORSOK M501 and ISO 12944-9 is no longer a challenge, but a given.

Naturally, this raises the question on everyone’s mind: what’s next for nanomaterials in the realm of coatings?

The Future of Nanomaterials in Protective Coatings

In a previous article we expressed Tesla NanoCoatings’ intent to continue to expand our presence in the Gulf of Mexico. To meet our expansion goals, we will remain dedicated to the very principle that got us this far: technological innovation. Although we have made incredible strides in harnessing the power of carbon nanotubes in protective coating applications, the truth of the matter is that the materials engineering community has just begun to scratch the surface of what carbon nanotubes are truly capable of. As we continue to find ways to optimize the effects of nanomaterials in protective coating systems and further reduce costs, we project that carbon nanotube coatings will find a role in many more specialized industries.