U.S. Navy Approves Plasma Coatings Removal System
On Wednesday (June 21), Atmospheric Plasma Solutions Inc. (APS), a provider of surface preparation equipment in the defense and commercial markets, announced that the U.S. Navy had approved the use of its plasma coating removal system.
According to the release, the PlasmaBlast PB7000M was approved by Naval Sea Systems Command for the removal of coatings on surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines “subject to certain limitations.”
APS states that their system removes paint, sealant, adhesives and more from metal substrates without the use of blast media, excessive heat or environmentally harmful chemicals. The system reportedly uses non-thermal plasma at “twice the rate” of other methods like needle guns and wire brushes.
With the support and direction of the U.S. Navy, APS reportedly dedicated their efforts to perform testing to ensure the efficacy and safety of the system leading up to approval. A large factor was reportedly demonstrating PB7000M’s ability to not alter the carbon steel substrate profile or metallurgy, preserving the original surface profile and fatigue strength as it was designed.
“This approval marks a significant milestone for APS, enabling shipyards and maintenance facility operators to deploy the PB7000M unit, benefiting from the ease-of-use, quick deployment, and safe operation,” said Scott Meller, CEO of APS. “We are excited to witness our Navy customers improving their sustainment and maintenance operations with the PB7000M”.
According to APS, the PB7000M weighs only 40 pounds and is a “single-person carry” device for transport to and around a job site. APS also states that the system has a short, five-minute set-up time and requires no adjustments before use. The “field deployable, portable” unit reportedly only requires compressed air and electricity to remove coatings.
Operating by generating a “cold plasma beam,” the PB7000M can reportedly vaporize paints, sealants and epoxies and can convert a “significant” portion of the removed coatings into water vapor and carbon dioxide.
Other APS Achievements
In December of last year, APS announced that the U.S. Department of Defense had awarded the company with the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contract option. The contract reportedly extended APS’s “strategic support” of Naval platforms such as surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as other naval assets.
The release stated that the award would aid APS in characterizing the effects of an Atmospheric Plasma Surface Preparation (APSP) system for coating removal, as well as investigate its ability to increase the adhesion of coatings by pretreating the substrate with APSP.
The contract reportedly followed a successful completion of the base period SBIR Phase 2 project that had delivered an atmospheric plasma system for the removal of organic coatings from metal substrates for the U.S. Navy. The system, according to the release, improved localized coating removal operations and naval maintenance.
The project had reportedly been aligned with a July 2022 award from The DoD's Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Heidi Shyu, for the Accelerate Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies (APFIT) program. According to the release, the APFIT program aims to transition technologies from pilot programs, prototype projects and research projects into production.
Earlier that year, in June, APS demonstrated the PlasmaBlast technology at a Technology Demo Day, hosted by BlastOne International at its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
At the event, the company highlighted how the PlasmaBlast system had been previously used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for coating removal in bolts, screws and hard to reach areas, in conjunction with the recently developed AMPP standard SP21523, Atmospheric Plasma Coating Removal and Surface Preparation.