Viewpoint: take no prisoners in the war against rust
9 May 2017
A pre-emptive defence is the best tactic in the war on rust. NCH Europe’s Peter Crossen explains why.
Hindsight is both a blessing and a curse. While it is always beneficial to know what could have been done differently when something goes wrong, this knowledge often doesn’t help resolve the predicament at hand.
This is especially pertinent in the maintenance industry, where much of an engineer’s time is spent combating rust and corrosion issues that could have been prevented with some pre-emptive measures.
Many businesses operate under the impression that rust is an unavoidable consequence of production. Whether it’s flash rusting on manufacturing infrastructure or pipes corroding in chemical manufacturing plants, there’s often an attitude of acceptance to the onset of rust. It’s not until rust has begun to seriously impede production that action is taken.
The global cost of rust management and repairs across industries has reached a terrifying total of $2.2 trillion, according to the World Corrosion Organisation, a large percentage of which could be saved using proactive treatment.
It is understandable that much of the rust in factories goes undetected until it’s too late. Thorough inspections can be difficult to complete regularly and even the most experienced engineers may find themselves missing problem areas.
The best advice for maintenance engineers is to invest in an integrated approach to asset treatment that prevents corrosion from creeping onto surfaces.
Once loose surface rust has been removed, using an industrial degreaser can ensure that no contaminants are left behind that will render further treatment futile. This pre-treatment step is arguably the most important.
The best advice for maintenance engineers is to invest in an integrated approach to asset treatment that prevents corrosion from creeping onto surfaces
Rather confusingly, rust removal solutions form the second step. Although the loose rust has been banished, the effects of underlying corrosion will still be present and could pose a risk to the integrity of the infrastructure. By using an effective rust treatment product this corrosion can be prevented.
To keep rust from returning it is essential that the surface is maintained with a product that can prevent moisture penetration causing corrosion on the substrate. By painting on either a temporary or permanent protective coating after removing rust, even the most susceptible surface can avoid corrosion.
To this end, NCH Europe developed Salvage 2+. Made of a durable composition of resin-based epoxy mixed with micro aluminium and glass flakes, the product combines the encapsulation and protection stages. It can be applied directly onto rusty surfaces to encapsulate and stop rust in its tracks.
In one of our customer applications, a plant manager was considering replacing two 10-year-old storage tanks that showed signs of corrosion. In this case, it would typically have cost £5,000 to replace the tanks, in addition to costs incurred due to downtime, fitting and transport.
Here, we first removed the corrosion, taking it back to base metal, used ultrasound equipment to ensure the tanks were structurally sound, and then completed a three-stage treatment programme using Salvage 2+. No downtime was necessary.
Hindsight may be both a blessing and a curse, but if you take the steps to enforce a regime of rust prevention, looking back will only be a positive experience.
Peter Crossen is vice president of NCH Europe’s maintenance and partsmaster innovation platform