Clean and Green Corrosion Inhibitors

October 1, 2010

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Paint manufacturers often synthesized top coats, primers, corrosion resistant coatings, and other conventional coatings using harmful chemicals, heavy lead and mercury metals. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also present in paints and varnishes, which are released to the environment during paint application.

With stricter VOC requirements imposed by environmental organizations, the coatings industry embarks on reformulating all types of corrosion resistant coatings and inhibitors. Compliance has been outright difficult, for various reasons. Foremost of these reasons is that reformulation entails costs and resources taken out of the existing budget of manufacturers, severely affecting production levels. The other reason is that formulating these new breed of low-VOC paints often compromise the level of performance easily offered by conventional paints.

Despite the difficulties, the result of reformulation efforts has been very promising. The gradual disappearance of heavy metals in paints has lowered VOCs emission levels. Many corrosion resistant coatings and inhibitors are reduced of their toxic attributes.

The Change to Green Corrosion Inhibitors

Eco-friendly corrosion resistant coatings and inhibitors are 100%-solid systems in powder form. VOCs have been reduced in their formulation, and heavy metals like zinc and lead have been removed from the content.

Green corrosion inhibitors are free of chromate in their composition, preventing more toxins from being released during application. Non-chromate-based inhibitors are nearly at par in performance as chrome-based inhibitors, but are not yet as flexible to many surface types. 

Manufacturers are continuously seeking ways to make green corrosion resistant coatings that can provide more energy efficiency in buildings and offices. Today, the market is proliferated with many choices in green paints. To ensure the reliability of green products, contractors and builders look for the green label during product selection. The green label certifies any product for environmental safety and recyclability. When a product is green-labeled, this means that only environment-friendly processes of raw material sourcing, processing, distribution, use and disposal are implemented for the product.

Development of Green Corrosion Inhibitors

Researches to formulate green corrosion resistant coatings and inhibitors are ongoing. The research objectives aim to make the finished product compliant with environment standards. As such, the coatings are designed to have the following properties:

  1. Anti-corrosive anodic properties
  2. Reduced metal elements
  3. Versatility of use in any substrate and conditions
  4. Ease of storage, handling, mixing, application and disposal
  5. Excellent corrosion resistance and general performance
  6. Reasonable pricing

It challenges designers to extract good performance from green products, while maintaining lower costs. Alternative non-toxic materials are tested on different substrates, where they undergo accelerated corrosion testing, structural and component analysis, to determine the most effective applications.

Challenges in Greening Corrosion Inhibitors

Manufacturers find it difficult to replace standard formulations with green alternatives, because toxic materials are often the very components that make standard formulations deliver good performance. Zinc phosphates are often used as replacement, but they cannot totally replace chrome-based coatings particularly in water-based and salt-exposed applications.

Recent changes in environmental regulations and green label standards have eliminated zinc phosphates as well. Furthermore, corrosion performance tests using non-zinc inhibitors are found to be even more inferior to zinc-based formulations. 

While the challenges are great, manufacturers are not giving up on developing green corrosion resistant coatings. A lot of work is in store for them, to meet environmental requirements for clean and green products that maintain and even surpass the cost benefits, performance, and versatility of conventional products.

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