It’s no surprise to anyone who has stepped on board a Navy ship that corrosion is a major, never-ending challenge. The Department of the Navy has attacked this $7.2 billion problem head-on with polysiloxane coatings, powder coatings, peel and stick non-skid, and protective covers, to name a few. Today’s blog post focuses on next generation anti-corrosion protective covers and how they protect expensive weapons systems and other deck equipment exposed to the sun and to the ravages of the ocean environment.
The beauty of using an anti-corrosion protective cover is in its simplicity; it really does fall within the realm of “an ounce of prevention.” Amazingly, many sailors in the fleet are unaware of this technology or how it works to make their life easier. Simply put, when you’re not busy busting rust, you have more time to focus on other important tasks.
To reduce corrosion on a piece of equipment exposed to the elements, a protective cover needs to do three things:
1. Protect from the sun.
UV rays from the sun are major causes of corrosion on painted metal surfaces. Paint is the first line of defense against corrosion. Unfortunately, the sun’s UV rays break down painted surfaces over time, usually resulting in the development of micro cracks or delamination. Once this occurs, bare metal is exposed and begins to react with the surrounding environment, resulting in corrosion. This in turn, causes more paint failure, which then causes even more corrosion in what becomes a vicious cycle.
2. Reduce humidity.
Humidity around the equipment needs to be reduced. Removing the amount of moisture in the air and on metal has a huge impact on reducing corrosion. Corrosion is an electro chemical reaction involving the oxidation of metals. While it is a natural process that is always happening to some degree, the presence of moisture and other elements such as salts, dirt, sand, and other contaminants in the ambient air can speed up this process when they come into contact with bare metal. That’s because moisture is a catalyst that forms a corrosion cell when coming into contact with metal. The metal becomes polarized as anode and cathode regions form, and electrons begin to flow between the two, with the speed of this reaction dependent on the concentration of oxygen present. As these electrons flow, they give off oxidation products: rust.
3. Corrosion inhibitor is a must.
A Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) that bonds with metal must be applied. VCIs are highly effective in protecting bare metal from the environment by disrupting the electro chemical reaction that causes corrosion. Today’s next generation anti-corrosion protective covers emit VCIs inward toward the covered equipment. VCIs travel through space and are attracted to metal like a magnet. At the microscopic level, VCI molecules form a molecular barrier on bare metal. This prevents moisture, dirt, salts, and other airborne contaminants from coming into contact and reacting with the metal. This renders the metal as non-polar, thus disrupting the flow of electrons. Impeding the flow of electrons reduces corrosion, plain and simple.
The next generation anti-corrosion protective cover is the key.
Today’s next-generation anti-corrosion protective covers do all three things in synergy to reduce corrosion, something the standard tarp, vinyl, or canvas cover cannot do. Anti-corrosion protective covers are waterproof, yet breathable, and they are highly durable and specifically designed for the harsh environment at sea. Unlike first generation protective covers, these newer protective covers do not retain moisture and do not swell up and get heavy. Instead, they are lightweight and easy to use, thus reducing sailor aggravation.
Reducing sailor aggravation, eliminating tedious work, and keeping equipment in working condition are all good things, as they translate into saving time, energy and tax-payer dollars.