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Coatings for protection against corrosion

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Outdoor weathering tests: Research scientists to expand their R&D work on coatings

2017-03-27

Preventing corrosion and its consequences is a key issue in most industries because the cost of corrosion in Germany alone amounts to billions of euros. In addition, the marine growth on surfaces is a huge challenge for shipping, offshore wind turbines, and underwater steel structures. Fraunhofer IFAM has many years of experience developing effective corrosion protection systems and antifouling strategies.

 - Outdoor weathering test stand at Westmole, Helgoland
© Fraunhofer IFAM
Outdoor weathering test stand at Westmole, Helgoland

In order to further enhance the institute’s expertise in this area, outdoor weathering test stands have been acquired to augment existing test facilities and key personnel with the requisite know-how have been added to the maritime technologies team. Coatings for protecting materials against marine growth and corrosion in maritime environments are developed and tested in comprehensive R&D projects. A number of methods are used for testing such coatings on a laboratory scale, some of which are accredited.

Due to their reproducibility and the short test times, they form a key aspect of development work and the approval of new systems. The test methods employed for offshore coatings include the widely used salt spray test, the cycle test in accordance with ISO 20340 which incorporates exposure to UV radiation, and standardized ballast water tank tests for ships. In order to undertake even more testing, laboratory test facilities are being complemented with a number of outdoor weathering test stands. Fraunhofer IFAM has taken over test stands in List on Sylt and at the Alte Weser Lighthouse from Fraunhofer IWES and has also acquired a site at Westmole on Helgoland.

The advantage of outdoor weathering tests compared to laboratory tests is that the tests are performed under real environmental conditions. However, outdoor tests usually take a very long time – up to several years. Laboratory tests and outdoor tests do though complement one another exceedingly well and allow reliable statements to be made about the long-term performance of protective systems.