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Protecting Pipelines Part 1 | Industrial Coatings

a conformal coating engineer making sure there aren't any defects in the coating

Mallory McGuinness | July 14, 2020

According to McKinsey, if all oil and gas businesses made efforts to employ the use of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), between four and 11 trillion US dollars would be released in value. For that reason, it should not come as a surprise that oil and gas firms are motivated to use connected devices to optimize systems, assure safety, reduce risks, and increase productivity.

Unfortunately, industrial devices are prone to failure when exposed to common threats in heavy-duty environments, such as moisture, chemicals, and temperature resistance. Conformal coatings are a proven method used to protect devices against environmental threats. As a result, industry stakeholders are applying protective coatings to IIoT devices to improve safety and reliability.

With lives and businesses hanging in the balance, industrial device designers must choose the appropriate conformal coating material to foster safety and resiliency.

Industrial coatings should possess these six characteristics to ensure reliable performance:

  • Low viscosity (if the coating is applied with liquid deposition)
  • Rapid cure, no by-product
  • Ability to withstand a wide range of operation temperatures
  • Non-toxic
  • Affordable cost
  • Chemical resistance

When it comes to harsh operating environments, pipeline IIoT devices are no exception to the rule. These electronics are exposed to:

Temperature – Pipeline devices are subject to external and internal temperatures. Sensors are used to measure these values to inform operators about anomalies.

Humidity – Defined as the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, humidity can damage sensitive circuitry.

Pressure – Pressure sensors collect data about pressure and convert it into an electric signal, allowing IIoT systems to monitor systems and devices. If there is any deviation from the standard range of pressure, pressure sensors notify employees about any problems to fix.

Vibration – Vibration sensors are used for predictive maintenance of rotation machines such as pumps, fans, motors, and compressors.

Chemical sensors– These devices are applied to indicate air chemical changes or changes in liquid.

Ideal pipeline coatings should be environmentally friendly, worker-safe, durable, and able to seal substrate metal surfaces from the operating environment. The coated selected should also be resistant to chemical, environmental, and mechanical damage during handling, service, and application.

Each type of conformal coating (acrylic, epoxy, Parylene, polyurethane, and silicone ) possesses an expansive variety of mechanical, physical, and chemical properties that influence the protection’s service life and function. To achieve safety and reliability, you must understand your coating’s properties before use.

  • For pipeline coatings, desirable characteristics include:
  • Effective moisture barrier
  • Applicable with a minimum of defects
  • Effective moisture barrier
  • Retention of physical characteristic

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Conformal coatings are a proven method used to protect devices against environmental threats.

a printed circuit board experiencing dewetting

Understanding Pipeline Conformal Coating Properties

Water Resistance

Water-resistance is possibly the most notable characteristic of pipeline conformal coatings. Thus, the first article of this two-part series focuses exclusively on this property. Some of the important concepts relevant to water resistance are as follows.

Water Absorption

This property refers to the amount of water absorbed and retained by the conformal coating. The lower this property is, the more effective the protection.

Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate

The moisture vapor transmission rate is defined as the passage of water vapor through barrier film. Each coating has its moisture vapor transmission rate, but in general, the lower it is, the better protection.

The Big Picture

These properties are just some of the characteristics you should consider when you select your conformal coating. Be sure to read part two of this series to explore more properties to evaluate so that you can select the best coating.

Although each conformal coating has strengths and weaknesses, Parylene is known to be an ideal coating selection for industrial applications. To speak to an engineer about your specific business situation, contact us today.

To see our educational video series about industrial conformal coatings, click here.

When it comes to harsh operating environments, pipeline IIoT devices are no exception to the rule.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

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