Laser-powered coating removal, real-life confined-space risks, and lessons from foreign shipyards will all be the focus of research projects newly funded by the National Shipbuilding Research Program.
The NSRP Executive Control Board has awarded $2.5 million to 17 new research and development projects as part of the program’s mission to reduce the costs associated with Navy shipbuilding and repair.
The projects will be executed through the program’s 10 Ship Production Panels. Panel projects are relatively small, short-term projects that address the program’s goal of rapidly implementing innovative, cost-saving technologies or processes.
The 2013 list of projects includes several year-long initiatives with implications for the marine coatings industry:
Foreign Shipyard Coatings Benchmarking Study
This $147,693 project, led by Elzly Technology Corp. of Reston, VA, aims to learn lessons in coatings practices from observing foreign shipyards and adapt those lessons for NSRP shipyards. Investigators see potential for process improvements and materials savings.
|A research team will study three European shipyards, including Navantia Fene-Ferrol in Spain, to glean lessons for their U.S. counterparts.|
Researchers say the last review of foreign painting practices was in 1985 in Asia. Europe has never been visited, although it shares many of the challenges commonly faced by U.S. shipyards.
The team will visit three European shipyards: Fincantieri (Muggiano and Riva Trigoso Shipyards) in Italy and Navantia Fene-Ferrol (Ferrol Shipyard) in Spain. The researchers will look at, among other areas, environmental regulations, automation, coating schedules, QA data, innovative coating solutions, warranty schemes and design for preservation.
Ventilation for Painting in Enclosed Spaces
This $150,000 initiative, to be led by Atrium Environmental Health and Safety Services LLC, of Reston, VA, aims to develop information on real-life exposure risks from painting in confined spaces.
The team will collect air samples reflecting various combinations of coating application, space configuration and ventilation use. The goal is to define representative exposure conditions and control challenges actually encountered in shipyard painting operations.
|One study will attempt to determine real-life—not just theoretical—exposure risks in confined-space painting.|
In their proposal, researchers note the difficulty of adequately ventilating tight and/or confined spaces where painters are using two-part or multi-component coating systems with low exposure limits.
Theoretical exposure determinations based on solvent concentrations and Material Safety Data Sheets may not adequately reflect real-life risks, the team said.
The project will incorporate industry-wide participation to provide data for use by all shipyards. The team will also evaluate innovative application or contaminant control measures used by the shipyards.
A key goal is to develop information that can be used to alert the shipyards to higher-risk scenarios that would require additional controls and protective measures.
Surface Preparation in the Shipyard With Closed Loop Laser Ablation
This $150,000 study will be led by General Lasertronics Corp., of San Jose, CA. The company manufactures systems that use pulsed lasers to strip coatings and prepare surfaces and boasts the “world’s only laser ablation system in production use on flight-critical surfaces.”
|One team will study surface preparation using closed-loop laser ablation, an alternative to abrasive blasting for coating removal.|
The research project aims to examine the feasibility of using the technology in the shipyard and to gain Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) approval of the system.
• Prep panels with various coatings, adhesives and caulking material for testing;
• Evaluate pre and post-ablation surface profile, metal deformation, corrosion and adhesion testing of panels; and
• Perform field testing on board a surface combatant and/or a CVN.
NSRP’s Advanced Shipbuilding Enterprise, jointly funded by the U.S. Navy and the shipbuilding industry, is a collaboration of U.S. shipyards working to reduce the cost of building and repairing Navy ships.
The program leverages public/private cooperation to manage research into new ship production, design and material technologies; infrastructure and support innovation; and business processes and information technologies.