Nanotechnology Offshore: How is the score?
Nanotechnology. It is a word that has a bit of fantasy. Word has it that “nano can do anything.” It is often believed that this technology is out of reach. Nanotechnology offshore is too expensive. Complicated. Well, it improves upon…it improves upon acquaintance.
During the nineties and the first decade of this century, nanotechnology and especially the accompanying application techniques have grown to full maturity. This meant prices for nanoproducts dropped, and application possibilities spread wider over more types of material. Today, nanotechniques in the fields of corrosion, abrasion, thermal and electrical insulation, lubes and fuel, active cleaners and selfcleaning surfaces are available. All on the level of quality only the maritime world can ask for. Foodgrades, class approvals, EPA and IMO acceptance, OEM Letters of No Objection, it’s all there. So let’s zoom in on some applications, like corrosion protection or thermal insulation, topics of great interest offshore.
Nanoparticles are small. That helps a lot, as nanotech is all about spreading and building matrices inside and on the surfaces of materials. Particles entirely fill in the intermolecular spaces of for instance glass or metals. In this process, binders and activators make that a number of reactions take place, offering great advantages over the traditional techniques like painting, lubricating or insulating.
The one most important reaction of nanoparticles is that they don’t stick mechanically, but bond chemically inside the host materials. They become one with the material and themselves. This means literally nothing can enter the host material anymore, thus changing or enhancing material characteristics. Pull or breaking strength of the host material, or brittleness, will not change however.
The typical properties of the particles subsequently determine how the host material is altered. Nano-tungsten brings unseen abrasion resistance. Nano-borate is extremely low-friction. And so on.