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Groups Gauge Coatings Across the Pond

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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If you think saltwater environments on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are essentially the same when it comes to their effects on marine coatings, you’re wrong, according a current energy research project.

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), based in the Orkney Islands, United Kingdom, and the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), of Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, are making a closer comparison of corrosion and the underwater behavior of marine coatings in their respective test facilities, EMEC announced last week.

Global high-performance coatings manufacturer Whitford, of Elverson, PA, is also part of the newly launched testing program, providing the coatings for the program and in return having its product tested and proven in the different marine environments.

Whitford coating trials at Stromness Harbour
Photos: EMEC

The U.K.’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Canada’s Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) have kicked off a joint project looking at the difference in corrosion and underwater behavior of marine coatings on either side of the Atlantic.

“Corrosion and other associated issues are a big challenge for wave and tidal energy technologies given that devices could be deployed at sea for years at a time,” says EMEC’s Managing Director Neil Kermode.

“Jointly studying issues like marine growth, corrosion, and other outstanding environmental and technological questions will ensure developers have the right approach wherever they end up deploying their technologies,” notes Toby Wright of FORCE.

“We are sure that the results will benefit both Canada and the U.K. in their plans to harvest sustainable energy from the oceans,” adds Kermode.

Different Sites, Different Results

EMEC and FORCE have been partnering on projects since 2011, when they committed to a strategic agreement to make their research efforts smarter, faster and more coordinated. Since then, they have been openly sharing their experiences and building a close working relationship, EMEC says.

Kermode proposed the latest joint project during a visit to Nova Scotia, when his team realized the marine conditions experienced at the FORCE test site are very different from what they see “across the pond.” As a result, a technology testing program with one group will deliver different findings and a different experience than if tested in the other environment, Kermode explains.

Wright notes that in the Bay of Fundy, referred to by some as the “Everest” of tidal energy, FORCE’s sensor platforms operate in extreme high-flow conditions.

“Our site experiences 14 billion tonnes of water every tide, moving at speeds above 20 kilometers an hour [about 12 miles per hour],” he says. “Working in the world’s highest tides is a challenge, but also an opportunity for technologies to meet the ultimate test of durability: the ‘Fundy Standard.’”

That is, if a turbine can produce power under those conditions, and produce it safely and reliably, it has met the Fundy Standard.

Expanding Materials Research

Kermode also brought Whitford on board for the joint program; Whitford and EMEC have been working together since 2014, conducting tests on the performance of coatings in the dynamic and volatile environments found at EMEC’s test sites in Orkney.

Whitford coating trials at Stromness Harbour

“Jointly studying issues like marine growth, corrosion, and other outstanding environmental and technological questions will ensure developers have the right approach wherever they end up deploying their technologies,” notes Toby Wright of FORCE.

“A quick call to Whitford confirmed that they were keen to see how applicable their products are in the Canadian waters, and we already knew the FORCE team welcome collaborative research,” he says.

“The Canadian market is really big due to the scale of the marine energy resource and we are keen to get our product tested and proven there too,” Whitford's Gareth Berry added.

Kermode says he sees this research program as just the beginning. In the future, the project will expand to help them gain an understanding of how new materials behave at different sites across the globe.

“The corrosion and other behavior experienced in the northern hemisphere will be different from that in the south, and it’ll be different in the tropics compared to temperate areas,” he explains.

“The potential for marine energy, however, is global, and technology developers will need to be prepared for this.”


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Corrosion; Europe; Marine Coatings; North America; Offshore; Performance testing; Research and development; Testing + Evaluation

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