Non-stick protection: from mailboxes to wind turbines

Consider it a different kind of clean technology

If you’ve spent any time in a city, you’ve most likely seen a plethora of stickers on polls and graffiti on bridges, bus stops, box trucks and so on. Most people get used to it, and it doesn’t really stand out anymore, but the city (or other property owner) is still tasked with cleaning it up. That equals time, effort and, of course, money. How do you engineer structures for a world full of knuckleheads that want to put their “artistic” touch on them?

The approach BASF took was by not letting it get to them in the first place. Their Coatings division came up with a sort of non-stick finish for general application. This RELEST® Powder PUR Anti-Sticker coating, “prevents soiling and reduces cleaning costs. It was specially developed for coating light poles, traffic signal poles and circuit breaker panel boxes.”

A coating for this type of application must be durable to last in these high traffic areas. After all, a non-stick coating that must be constantly maintained is no better than repainting something because of graffiti.

The RELEST® coating offers a combination of “high weathering resistance, scratch resistance and very high chemical resistance.” It has a somewhat rough surface which makes it difficult to get stickers to adhere well and graffiti is easier to remove. This particular version of the protective layer is applied through powder coating, so it won’t suit every application, but fending off stickers and graffiti isn’t the only benefit to the coating’s properties.

Some of the other places you might want a surface resistant to damage, stains and chemicals include machine equipment, aerospace and marine applications, fences and facilities applications in industrial or public environments such as lockers, railings, furnishings, etc. The protective nature of the coating can reduce maintenance, which is especially important in structural applications such as wind turbines.

Although the powder coating version is new, the RELEST® coating line has already been applied to wind turbine blades to reduce damage from environmental factors such as rain and sand. The turbine blade tips can be moving upwards of 180 mph (300 kmh) which makes even small impacts much more damaging than might be expected. The RELEST® coating has been found to outperform other coatings and allow for reliable service in demanding conditions such as offshore wind farms.

Whether for easier cleaning or more reliable energy, coatings can be an effective way to extend the performance of the underlying material.

The video below talks more about the testing of the coating and application on wind turbines.

Images courtesy of (top) and BASF (bottom)