Energy Coatings Go Green
Since its commencement in 1950, Velan has been pushing to find new designs and technologies to produce high-performance valves. In more recent years, the Montreal manufacturer has been called upon to find solutions to technological challenges that are friendly to the environment, but still cost effective. One of those solutions is an alternative to a tried and trusted valve industry tool—hard chrome plating (HCP)—which is now under strict environmental regulation.
Velan’s solution after very tough scrutiny and consideration: nanostructured coatings.
“Our products are optimized to provide customers with quality, safety, ease of operation, long service life and low total cost of ownership,” says Luc Vernhes, corporate manager for Product Innovation and Technology. “‘Quality that lasts’ is not just our tagline; it’s what we put into each valve.”
Dealing with REACH
Innovation is only one key motivator for the company. Another is how to deal with REACH regulations on HCP in Europe, which are similar to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration controls on HCP and will be enacted here in 2017. HCP has been used in the valve industry for many years because it provides excellent hardness and resistance to corrosive environments, and it offers easy application and low cost.
After reviewing several alternatives, Velan identified nanostructured chemical vapor deposition (CVD) coatings as the best replacement for HCP. In tests, the nanostructured coatings performed better than HCP for sliding, wear, scratch, adhesion, toughness and corrosion testing in saltwater environments. A comparison of relative costs reveals that the nanostructured coatings kept also pace with HCP in regards to economy of scale, and when large volume and pre- and post-coating operations are in effect.
In 2007, Vernhes contacted Hardide Coatings, a United Kingdom innovator of low-temperature CVD tungsten carbide-based coatings, and expressed interest in testing the coating as a hard chrome replacement.
Hardide’s Dan Wilson and Robin Gillham worked with Vernhes for many years, and a relationship grew from basic coupon and material testing to production qualification at companies in the petrochemical and power sectors.