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NEWS | June 5, 2013

NRL Scientists Recognized for Cost-Saving Paints

By Donna McKinney

Scientists in the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) Chemistry Division have been recognized with the 2012 Office of Naval Research Prize for Affordability for their development of Rapid Cure Single Coat Tank Coatings. This technology, which has been implemented Fleet wide, has provided a $7 million annual costs savings to date and is making a significant contribution toward reducing the total ownership costs associated with the corrosion control of U.S. Navy ships and submarines.

The team of Mr. Arthur Webb, Mr. Paul Slebodnick, Mr. James Martin, Mr. Jan Bergh, from NRL's Chemistry Division, and Dr. Airan Perez, Program Officer at the Office of Naval Research, has developed this new coatings technology under the Future Naval Capabilities Program.

Intended for use in shipboard tanks and voids, this team formulated, synthesized, and commercialized coatings which have revolutionized the Navy's approach to tank maintenance. These coatings both reduced installation cost of tank coatings while simultaneously quadrupling coating life expectancy. The team formulated in-house coatings chemistry, collaborated with industry to identify suitable commercial alternatives, conducted laboratory testing to validate performance, developed shipyard/industrial spray processes and conducted over 69 shipboard demonstrations of this technology.

The NRL-developed coatings, new formulations of epoxy polymers, are different from existing coatings because they can be applied at full thickness in a single coat, rather than the typical three coats, and they cure in a much shorter period of time.

Corrosion control of tanks and voids is the number one corrosion-related maintenance costs in the U.S. Navy, as documented by the Department of Defense. Because of the work of the NRL team, the U.S. Navy has experienced a significant cost savings related to shipboard corrosion control and maintenance initiatives. The new coatings have resulted in cost savings of nearly 35% in tank and void painting cost, 40% reduction in tank/void preservation time, with a material cost equal to legacy systems.

The NRL-developed technology was fully implemented by the Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Command in September 2008. To date, 1,178 tanks have been painted with single coat systems on U.S. Navy surface ships, carriers, and submarines. NAVSEA has further documented that as of 2012, these installations are providing a $6.5 to 7.1 million/year cost savings. These systems are required in many applications in lifecycle maintenance and are increasingly being used in new construction with at least two new construction shipyards having fully integrated these technologies. Efforts are now underway to extend the use of this new coating system on well deck overheads and bilges.

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