Coal, Emissions, Nuclear

Update: Quality Coating Systems Assure Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

Issue 2 and Volume 107.

A beautiful paint job can make a not so perfect car look great. But imagine a paint job that not only looks terrific, but assures the owner that it isn’t hiding something less than perfect. High quality industrial coating systems can provide protection of critical plant equipment while allowing owners and quality control inspectors to see through the gloss and down to the substance below assuring that quality is more than skin deep.

One such approach is offered by NCP Coatings, a company that has just introduced its new Optically Active Coating System (OACS). OACS is designed for a wide array of manufacturing and inspection applications – especially nuclear power plants but also in non-nuclear power installations – where uneven or flawed coatings can not be allowed to compromise coating, substrate, or product integrity. The process is designed for applications requiring lifetime inspections for detection of structural integrity, corrosion, or leaks from holding tanks and pipelines.

“The OACS system is a major breakthrough in the inspection of any critical application of coatings in the manufacturing control environment and beyond,” explains Randy Terrill, technical director of NCP. “We infuse an optically active additive to our coating formulations that makes the coating reactive to specialized ultraviolet light. You then coat or impregnate this pigment onto whatever you want to monitor – structural steel beams, storage tank walls, concrete structures, or the smallest manufactured parts. At inspection time, structural or material changes or imperfections show clearly under the ultraviolet light. Not only can you monitor structure or substrate integrity, but you can also use the UV properties to monitor coating quality for exact coverage.”

Because the system is so effective in enabling quality assurance inspectors to see cracks and flaws in coatings on tanks and pipelines carrying fluids as well as concrete structures, it can be particularly useful in both the construction and quality inspection phases of nuclear plants. It is also a potential tool for guarding against and identifying counterfeit parts and components. Original equipment manufacturers can mark their products with codes, trademarks or other identifying information visible only under ultraviolet light. Thus, power plant operators would have way of determining if counterfeit OEM components have found their way into their facility.

“The beauty of the OACS coating system is that it’s invisible in the ambient light, says Terrill. “When used as a primary coating, or as an undercoating, OACS coatings are only visible under ultraviolet light. Consequently, the practical quality control and myriad of structural inspection applications are only limited by one’s imagination.”

He says the technology represents a real solution to engineers facing the challenges of installations that have routine maintenance, inspection and documentation. In these cases, coatings incorporating OACS help prevent the risk of costly refurbishment, reconstruction, or parts recalls.