Lab Develops Pigments to Slow Discoloration


Researchers based out of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory recently developed a pigment package that addresses discoloring of the exterior coating on ships, slowing down the process. The coating has reportedly been released gradually into the fleet with positive results.

The pigment was developed to keep ships the required “haze gray” color for longer than other current coating options.

Pigment Development

According to the NRL, some ships have begun to discolor as soon as 18 months. Contemporary coatings can also fade to different hues, which ends in splotchy results and overall uneven results if there are any touch-ups or repairs later.

“We had a good idea on how to solve the issue, and we leveled the playing field by providing the pigment combination to all companies at the same time,” said Erick Iezzi, who serves as a senior research chemist for the Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering at the NRL.

From 2012-13, Iezzi, working with a team of other researchers, developed five new pigment combinations. Testing included investigation into color stability, solar reflectance and other coating properties. Testing was conducted at NRL’s Key West facility for both atmospheric exposure performance and accelerated weathering.

Results indicated that coatings with the new pigments had reportedly good color stability, were five times harder than silicone alkyd and had both improved gloss retention and chemical resistance, along with providing better barrier properties. Once all combinations were tested, the finalist was provided to coating manufacturers to commence integration in 2015.

“It was motivating to know that several companies were willing to lean on our expertise to provide a new technology that would produce the best product for the Navy,” lezzi said.

Recently, The Sherwin-Williams Company was one of the recipients of an award from SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings for work on the USS George Washington, which included using the pigment in a topcoat paint for the overhaul project. The NRL is currently working in collaboration with Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Systems Engineering Directorate and Ship Integrity & Performance Engineering to move the pigments into a military specification.  


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Coating Materials; NA; North America; Pigments; Research and development; Ships and vessels; U.S. Naval Research Lab

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