Developed by BÜFA, the coating also boosts protection against damage from UV radiation, helping to achieve extended, maintenance-free, lifecycles of field-based control and instrumentation equipment in the oil and gas, chemicals and other process industries.
Intertec reports that weathering tests demonstrate the coating can withstand extended exposure to very high UV levels, providing a new level of protection, particularly for GRP field enclosures destined for environments such as deserts, the tropics or the Arctic.
The new treatment, GO-Antistatic, is based on a carbon nanotube material that is applied as part of a surface gel-coat. The nanomaterial provides a degree of conductivity for the outdoor enclosure that dissipates any static electric charges safely to ground. Such treatments ensure safety in hazardous areas of processing plants, where a spark caused by the build-up of an electrostatic charge can cause an explosion of gas, vapour or dust in the local atmosphere.
According to Intertec, most of the antistatic treatments applied to GRP enclosures today rely on the addition of conductive materials into the surface gel-coat or conductive paint. However, if the gel-coat contains antistatic material, this can have a detrimental effect on its performance, by reducing its smoothness and UV protection, and limiting colouring possibilities. Extended exposure to high UV levels can then damage GRP enclosures, leading to minor surface roughening, which is sometimes referred to as chalking or frosting. To minimise such effects, Intertec introduced a proprietary antistatic treatment some 30 years ago. The new-generation nanomaterial treatment extends lifecycle protection for hazardous area enclosures.
Intertec and BÜFA worked together to develop the new antistatic coating. BÜFA chose single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) to provide the required conductivity and has developed proprietary techniques to disperse the SWCNTs in the coating material. SWCNTs are incredibly small – around 1-2 nanometres in diameter – which increases smoothness at the surface level of the coating. The gloss retention (smoothness) after accelerated weathering tests is about 50% better than the previous formulation, and is on the same level as non-antistatic gel-coats, Intertec reports. This significantly improves UV resistance, and is claimed to virtually eliminate any effect on the use of any decorative colourings.
This means that Intertec can now provide hazardous area enclosures in a much broader range of colours than previously possible. Options will include almost pure white (a further aid to solar protection), which is said to be very difficult to achieve with many current antistatic treatments. The company can also provide enclosures in colours that match a client’s corporate branding, or help with other functions such as camouflage or blending with architecture.
“Our core business is providing advanced enclosures to ensure the long-term protection of sensitive field equipment, and the new antistatic treatment represents a significant step forward in enhancing performance,” says Intertec’s CEO Martin Hess. “The development could not have come at a better moment as today many of our EPC and processing operator customers are trying to build plants in ever more remote and harsh environments.”