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Controlling Corrosion

3. Controlling Corrosion

3.1. The Nature of Corrosion

The corrosion of steel in aqueous solutions is an electrochemical process in

which a current flows and a chemical reaction occurs. Corrosion is a natural
process that follows the laws of science. All metals possess inherent levels of
electrical energy. They must maintain those levels to remain stable and thus
not be subject to the degradation process of corrosion. These levels of
electrical energy are measurable, and metals can be either more or less
reactive in various environments on the basis of their inherent levels of
energy or electrical potentials. Metals with higher levels of electrical energy
tend to be more reactive, and metals with lower levels of electrical energy
tend to be less reactive (more noble). Figure 3-1 illustrates how the various
metals’ electrical potentials compare.

The corrosion cell comprises four basic elements: anode, cathode, electrolyte,
and closure path (Fig. 3-2).

The anode is the metal that corrodes—that is, metal ions leave its surface and
enter the electrolyte solution. The cathode is a metal from which no metal
ions enter the solution. The electrolyte may be any solution, such as drinking
water, that is capable of conducting electricity. The closure path, also called
the return current path, is the electrical conductor (usually metal) that
connects the anode and the cathode. If any one of these elements is missing,
corrosion does not occur. For example, coating stops corrosion from
occurring by providing a barrier to the current that flows between the metal
and the electrolyte.
Figure 3-1. How electrical potentials of various metals compare.

A dry-cell battery is a corrosion cell. When the battery’s anode (zinc) and
cathode (carbon) are connected through a closure path (the lightbulb), the
potential difference between the zinc and the carbon produces a current
flow. The current continues to flow until the zinc anode is consumed by the
corrosion process.

Figure 3-2. Elements of the corrosion cell.

Figure 3-3. Anode and cathode in a steel water-storage tank.

It is important to consider why the current flows in the direction it does. The
direction of flow is determined by the metals selected for the dry-cell
battery’s case and center post. If the center post was magnesium instead of
carbon, the current flow would be reversed: The magnesium center post
would be the anode (which corrodes), and the zinc base would be the cathode
(which does not corrode).

The current can also be forced to flow in the opposite direction if the
standard carbon/zinc battery is connected to an outside current source
instead of the lightbulb. In this situation, the anode and the cathode would
also be reversed—that is, the battery case would become the cathode and
would be protected from corrosion.

In a steel water-storage tank, some portion of the metal will be the anode and
some portion will be the cathode (Fig. 3-3).

Which area takes on which function depends on impurities in the metal;

surface conditions; oxygen concentrations in the water; the presence of any
dissimilar metals; stresses caused by manufacturing, heat, or concentrated
structural loads; and/or several other factors. At the anode, metal ions leave
the surface, enter the water, and combine with oxygen to form rust. Electrons
released from the anode travel through the metal to the cathode. At the
cathode, an ion exchange occurs, but no metal is lost and no corrosion
The presence of ladders, mixing systems, baffling systems, floats, or other
accessories made of stainless steel that are electrically continuous with the
carbon-steel tank causes accelerated corrosion in steel exposed at holidays
(voids) in the coating. In such cases, the stainless-steel components are the
cathodes and the exposed-steel portions of the tank are the anodes. Care
must be taken when designing such accessories to eliminate the galvanic or
dissimilar metal corrosion between the metals of different electrical
potentials. Methods for addressing the corrosion caused by dissimilar metals
are cathodic protection, using a homogenous metal (coated carbon steel),
using a nonmetallic material such as fiberglass-reinforced plastic, coating the
stainless steel to minimize the cathodic surface areas the carbon steel is
reacting with, and/or electrical isolation of the dissimilar metals. A corrosion
engineer should review situations in which dissimilar metals are used in steel
water tank fabrication to determine the most effective solution(s) for
controlling corrosion.

3.2. Principles of Cathodic Protection

Cathodic protection systems are used to prevent or retard the corrosion that
would naturally occur in a steel water tank. These systems prevent or slow
corrosion by altering the electrochemical environment so that the submerged
tank shell becomes the cathode of a corrosion cell. Since the cathode of a cell
does not corrode, the submerged metallic tank shell is protected. There are
two basic types of cathodic protection systems: impressed-current systems
and galvanic systems.

3.2.1. Impressed-Current Systems

In an impressed-current system of cathodic protection, an outside source of

electrical power forces current into anodes submerged in the storage tank’s
water. The current flows from the anodes through the water (electrolyte) and
onto the submerged walls of the tank, making the tank itself the cathode of
the corrosion cell. An impressed-current cathodic protection system (Fig. 3-4)
consists of a manual or automatic alternating current/direct current (AC/DC)
converter (i.e., a rectifier), feeder wires, and anodes inside the tank. The DC
output voltage is typically adjusted and controlled automatically to account
for a wide range of variables. To prevent damage to the coating, care must be
exercised to ensure that the polarized voltage does not exceed a maximum
value as noted in the industry standards; otherwise the coating may be
damaged. Because excessive current output may damage the coating,
manually controlled rectifiers without automatic adjustment and potential
limiting capabilities are typically not recommended for coated steel. The
precise maximum negative voltage is dependent on the characteristics of the
coating and other factors.

Figure 3-4. Impressed-current system.

3.2.2. Galvanic Systems

In a galvanic system (Fig. 3-5), a block of specially selected metal called a

sacrificial anode is immersed in the electrolyte and electrically connected to
the metal of the tank. The metal of the sacrificial anode is selected so that it
will become the anode of the corrosion cell, with the steel tank being the
cathode. Magnesium is the most common anode material employed for
corrosion control in potable water. The anodes are typically of an extruded-
rod type that are either suspended in the water from the roof of the tank or
suspended in the lower portion of the tank supported from the sidewalls or
by supports on the tank floor.
These anodes are fabricated with a copper lead wire connected to the core of
the anode and then attached to the steel tank. When the connection is made
and the anodes are submerged in the water, the current flow from anode to
cathode (steel tank) begins; thus, the magnesium corrodes and the steel is
protected. Galvanic systems have become increasingly popular because no
electrical current is required.

Output of the sacrificial anodes may be monitored by using reference

electrodes permanently installed in the tank below the surface of the water.
The anode lead wires and reference electrode lead wires may be run into a
test station installed at ground level to facilitate routine monitoring. A test
station may also be equipped with a rheostat to control the output of the
anodes by altering the circuit resistance. In the absence of a test station,
routing testing is accomplished with a portable reference cell.

Figure 3-5. Galvanic system.

3.2.3. Protective Coatings

Cathodic protection is normally used in conjunction with a well-coated tank

surface. The coating reduces the rate of anode consumption and power use.
Coatings typically have microscopic voids that expose the metal to the water
and allow metal loss if cathodic protection is also not in place. The ideal
corrosion control system combines a good dielectric coating (metallic
coatings are not dielectric) and a properly designed, installed, and
maintained cathodic protection system.

3.2.4. Exterior Corrosion of Tank Bottom

Cathodic protection systems are usually designed to protect the interior

wetted surfaces of a water-storage tank. In some cases, however, the exterior
of a tank bottom or shell is in contact with corrosive soils. This is typically the
case for flat-bottom tank styles such as reservoirs and standpipes. In those
situations, proper selection of the tank base material or backfill may reduce
corrosion, or a separate cathodic protection system can be designed to
protect exterior surfaces in contact with soil (refer to American Water Works
Association [AWWA] Manual M27, External Corrosion: Introduction to
Chemistry and Control , for details). In cases where cathodic protection will
be used to protect such surfaces, impressed-current systems are generally
recommended. Sacrificial anodes can also be used, depending on factors
including the size of the tank floor to be protected, soil or sand resistivity,
and whether the surface to be protected is coated or bare.

3.3. Cathodic Protection Design

In designing a cathodic protection system, the engineer must consider the

quality of the protective coating, tank geometry, surface area, obstructions,
geographic location, temperature, turbulence, and the chemical composition
of the water stored in the tank. Among items to be specified in the design are
the AC/DC converter or alternative power source, the anode materials, and
the anode configuration and suspension.

3.3.1. Automatically Controlled AC/DC Converter (Rectifier)

The protective-current demands in a water-storage tank continuously change

because of variations in water chemistry and temperature, fluctuations in
water level, coating deterioration, and polarization effects. Automatically
controlled impressed-current cathodic protection systems (Fig. 3-6) are
typically used in water-storage tanks to adjust for these variations.

Reference electrodes are used to continuously monitor the protective level

and control the cathodic protection current delivered to the structure by the
system. Separate control circuits are used for riser pipes and other areas of
the tank that may have different localized conditions.

3.3.2. Anode Materials and Design Life

Impressed-current anodes are typically made of mixed-metal oxide or

platinum that can provide a nominal minimum 10- to 20-year life. The design
life of the anode system is based on the anticipated protective-current
requirements, condition of the coating, percentage of bare steel to be
protected, and the known consumption rates for the selected anode material.
The approximate consumption rate is 17 to 20 lb/amp year for magnesium
anodes. For platinized niobium, platinized titanium, or mixed-metal oxides on
titanium, the approximate consumption rate is 0.00008 to 0.0013 lb/amp year
(0.036 to 0.59 g/amp year).

Figure 3-6. Automatically controlled AC/DC converter (rectifier).

3.3.3. Anode Configuration and Suspension

Distribution of current from any anode configuration is affected by the

geometric shape of the tank, obstructions within the tank, interior coating,
and chemical characteristics of the water.
The anode system may be installed vertically or horizontally. Vertically
suspended anodes (Fig. 3-7a ) are installed by hanging the anode from an
electrically insulated device at the tank roof adjacent to holes cut in the roof.
Horizontally suspended anodes (Fig. 3-7b )are positioned below the normal
water level attached to the tank shell or access tube. In elevated tanks with
an inlet/outlet riser pipe 30 in. (76 cm) in diameter or larger, a vertically
suspended anode is used to provide protection within the riser.

When holes are cut in the roof, the finished installation must be watertight to
eliminate openings for insects and runoff to enter the tank.

For tanks subject to icing, either vertical anode systems with extensible
elements or horizontal suspension systems designed to minimize ice damage
to the anodes should be considered. These suspension systems can provide
year-round protection and may eliminate the need for annual anode
replacement due to ice damage.

Figure 3-7a. Vertical system reservoir tank.

3.3.4. Maintenance of Cathodic Protection System

Following the installation of a cathodic protection system, a tank-to-water
potential profile is performed to ensure that the system is providing optimal
corrosion control. The level of corrosion control achieved by the cathodic
protection system can be determined through electrical testing. Corrosion is
under control when a copper/ copper sulfate reference electrode is placed
adjacent to, but not touching, the submerged tank surface and a polarized
tank-to-water potential of −0.850 V or less is measured.

Automatic rectifiers continuously monitor the tank-to-water potential being

maintained by the system and make adjustments to control corrosion.
Personnel responsible for operating and maintaining the cathodic protection
system should refer to the designer’s instructions to fully understand their
responsibilities. They should consult with the manufacturer if necessary
regarding the equipment’s operation and make certain that all responsible
personnel are familiar with its operation. A successful cathodic protection
corrosion control system will continuously operate according to established

Figure 3-7b. Horizontal system reservoir tank.

Annual inspection of the cathodic protection system by the manufacturer or

by a qualified corrosion engineer is recommended. At a minimum, this
inspection should include an overall examination of the entire cathodic
protection system, replacement of all defective parts, a potential profile
survey, a physical check of the anode placement, and a written report.
Various annual service plans are available from the cathodic protection
companies or other service organizations. Cathodic protection systems
should be regularly tested and inspected to ensure that they provide the
maximum level of corrosion control to the surfaces of the submerged steel

3.4. Paint (Coating) Basics

Paint is a generic term used to describe a protective or decorative coating

that can be applied to a surface. Protective coatings and linings applied to
potable water tanks are formulated to protect the substrate from corrosion
on tank interiors as well as for corrosion protection and aesthetic value on
tank exteriors. The many types of protective coatings available vary in their
intended use, formulations, methods of application, and in how they dry or

3.4.1. Components of Paint

Most paints are made up of three primary components—the solvent , which is

incorporated into the formula to lower viscosity and allow the painter to get
the paint out of its container and onto the substrate; the resin or binder,
which binds the material together and, more than any other component,
determines the physical properties and performance of the cured film; and
the pigment, which can provide color, hiding, or any number of other
desirable properties in the film (e.g., gloss control, sag resistance, or added
film strength). The combination of the solvent and the resin is called the
vehicle (Fig. 3-8). The resin binder and the pigments make up the protective
dried film after the solvent evaporates. Most paints also contain additives,
which will also be covered in this section.
Figure 3-8. Primary components of paint: solvent, resin, and pigment. O RGANIC S OLVENTS

Most paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These organic

solvents are incorporated into paint formulas to lower viscosity and allow the
painter to get the paint out of its container and onto the substrate. Water
acts as a solvent for some types of paint, but it is not an organic solvent and
therefore is not considered a VOC. Organic paint solvents generally fall into
one or more of the following classifications:

Active solvent : An active solvent is a true solvent for the resin (binder)
portion of the formula. It dissolves the resin and keeps it in solution.

Diluent : Although not a solvent for the resin portion of a particular paint
formula, a diluent can still be used in conjunction with a true (active)
solvent, without causing precipitation or incompatibility (“kick-out”).

Latent (auxiliary) solvent : This is not a true solvent, but combined with an
active solvent, it increases the strength (solvency power) of the active

Before deciding what solvent or combination of solvents can be used in a

particular paint formula, two important solvent properties must be

Evaporation rate Some solvents are more volatile than others: The greater
the volatility, the faster the evaporation rate. Because of its effect on
application properties, it is important to consider the evaporation rate when
selecting a solvent or solvent blend for a coating formula. For example, the
use of a “fast” solvent may be appropriate if the coating is typically spray
applied, but the result may not be a smooth, continuous film if the coating is
applied by brush or roller.

Flash point Flash point is defined as the temperature at which the vapor
directly above a liquid will ignite when exposed to a spark or an open flame.
The faster the evaporation rate of the solvent, the lower the flash point. The
U.S. Department of Transportation defines paints with a flash point below
100ºF (38ºC) as flammable and paints with a flash point above 100ºF (38ºC) as
combustible. A label picturing a red flame must be affixed to containers
holding flammable liquids with a flash point below 100ºF (38ºC). S OLVENT TYPES OR FAMILIES

Aliphatic hydrocarbons Derived from the distillation of crude oil, aliphatic

hydrocarbons are considered weak solvents for most resin types. In a limited
number of paint formulas, however, they can be active or true solvents.
Examples are oil-based paints, or alkyds. Naphtha and mineral spirits are the
most commonly used aliphatic hydrocarbons.

Aromatic hydrocarbons Aromatic hydrocarbons are also derived from

distillation of crude oil, but they are considered stronger solvents for a wider
range of generic paints than the aliphatic hydrocarbons. All aromatic
hydrocarbons contain a benzene-ring molecular structure. In fact, benzene is
a solvent and the base molecule for this family of solvents. Aromatic
hydrocarbons are active solvents for generic paints including alkyd, oil-
based, chlorinated-rubber, certain epoxies, and a few others. They are also
used extensively as diluents. Aromatic hydrocarbons most widely used in
paint formulations are toluene, xylene, #100 solvent, and #150 solvent.

Ketones This family of organic solvents has very high solvency power for
most generic paints. Acetone, often used for cleanup in organic chemistry
labs, is the base molecule for this family. Ketones most often used in paint
formulas are MEK (methyl ethyl ketone), MIBK (methyl isobutyl ketone), MNPK
(methyl normal propyl ketone), and MAK (methyl amyl ketone).

Esters Esters, like ketones, have high solvency power for most generic
paints and are used most often in lacquers and furniture finishes. They have
limited use in industrial coatings because of their high cost and reactivity
with certain resins. Ester solvents most often used in paints are ethyl
acetate, butyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, and amyl acetate.

Alcohols Alcohols are not true (active) solvents for most generic paints.
Exceptions are found in vinyl wash primers and ethyl silicate inorganic zinc
–rich primers. Certain water-soluble alcohols are also used as co-solvents in
water-based paints and in water-emulsion paints. Alcohol solvents found in
paints include ethyl alcohol (drinking alcohol), isopropyl alcohol (rubbing
alcohol), butyl alcohol, and amyl alcohol.

Glycol ethers and glycol-ether acetates Glycol ethers are unusual in that
several are water soluble yet also have high solvency power. Because of their
water solubility, they are often used as co-solvents in water-based paints.
Glycol-ether acetates are strong solvents that are often used in urethane
paint formulations.

3.4.2. Pigments and Their Functions

Nearly all paints contain pigments. Exceptions are certain high-gloss clear
coatings. Unlike dyes, pigments used in protective coatings are essentially
insoluble in water and organic solvents. Their chemical structure can be
either organic or inorganic depending on the pigment type. Most inorganic
pigments are derived from minerals that are mined from the earth. Organic
pigments are made synthetically and are typically much more expensive than
inorganic pigments.

Paint manufacturing would be a fast, simple process if it was not for the need
to include one or more pigments in most paint formulas. Considerable energy
and time are required to disperse pigments into the liquid components of any
paint formula. During initial manufacturing, the pigment suppliers grind
pigments to a very small particle size. Regrettably, these small pigment
particles agglomerate before they are added to protective coatings. When
dispersing pigments during paint manufacture, the intent is to break apart
the pigment agglomerates into the individual particles originally produced by
the pigment manufacturer. The amount of energy and time required to
accomplish this depends on the type of pigment. In general, organic pigment
agglomerates are much more difficult to disperse than inorganic. Most
inorganic pigments can be dispersed using high-speed dispersion equipment,
which is generally the fastest and the most economical method of pigmented
paint manufacture. More time and energy are required to disperse most
organic pigments; other manufacturing methods such as sand milling or ball
milling are required.

To understand the important functions of pigment in paint, we need to

examine the three major classifications of pigments: prime pigments,
extender pigments, and corrosion-inhibiting pigments.

Prime pigments Prime pigments provide color and hiding power and can be
either organic or inorganic. Red iron oxide, yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide
(TiO 2), lead molybdate (toxic), and lead chromate (toxic) are examples of
inorganic prime pigments. Carbon black, phthalocyanine blue,
phthalocyanine green, and quinacridone violet are examples of the more
expensive organic prime pigments.

Extender pigments Most extender pigments provide little, if any, color and
hiding. All extender pigments are inorganic minerals that are mined from the
earth. These pigments are used in paint formulas to provide a variety of
desirable properties including gloss reduction, primer surface roughness for
better topcoat adhesion, higher solids, film reinforcement, lower moisture
vapor transmission (MVT), and thixotropy (sag resistance). Magnesium
silicate (talc), barium sulfate (barytes), mica, aluminum silicate (clay), calcium
silicate (wollastonite), and silica (sand) are examples of extender pigments
used in paint.

Corrosion-inhibiting pigments Also known as active pigments, corrosion-

inhibiting pigments are typically inorganic and have very low solubility in
water. They help control corrosion of steel when used in certain generic
primers (primarily alkyd or oil based). Their low reactivity with water
produces an alkaline condition and/or passivating ions that interfere with the
electrochemical process that causes corrosion of steel. Lead tetroxide (red
lead), zinc chromate, zinc phosphate,
calcium borosilicate, zinc molybdate, barium metaborate, and cement are
examples of corrosion-inhibiting pigments used in paint. Over the years, red
lead and zinc chromate have served as excellent corrosion-inhibiting
pigments for specific primer formulations, but they have been virtually
eliminated because of their toxicity.

3.4.3. Resins

With only a few exceptions, resins (binders) are organic polymers. Depending
on molecular weight and resin type, these paint constituents can be either
liquid or solid before they are added to the batch.

The physical properties and performance of a cured paint film are related
more to the types of resins used in the paint than to any of the other
ingredients. This is why most paints are classified according to the resins
(binders) they contain. Single-component paints can sometimes contain more
than one type of resin, but these paints are usually classified by the resin
that is present in the formula at the higher percentage, with the other resin
identified as a modifier. For example, a paint that contains 80 percent alkyd
resin solids and 20 percent acrylic resin solids would be classified as an
acrylic-modified alkyd. Two-component paints are generally classified using
both types of resins. For example, a two-component paint that consists of
epoxy resin in one component and polyamide resin in the second component
would be identified as a polyamide epoxy. CURING MECHANISMS VERSUS RESIN TYPES

To gain a basic understanding of the performance properties of the many

generic paints available today, we will discuss the most common curing
mechanisms—that is, the various methods by which a paint transforms from a
liquid to a solid.

Lacquer cure Lacquer cure—the drying of a paint film by solvent

evaporation only—is the simplest curing mechanism. As raw materials, resins
that fall into this category are usually high-molecular-weight resins. Since no
further polymerization takes place when the dried paint film is formed, the
performance properties are already exhibited by the resin as a raw material.
In general, the advantages of paints that exhibit this curing mechanism
include fast dry, complete cure at low temperatures, and fast recoat times.
With the exception of coal tar pitch solutions, the major disadvantage is low
solids (high VOC content), which requires application of multiple coats. In
addition, use of these paints is limited because of air pollution regulations.
Another disadvantage for all of the generic paints that fall into this category
is poor solvent resistance.

Vinyls : Organic solvent-based vinyl paints are made from vinyl-chloride

and vinyl-acetate polymers. They are characterized by excellent acid
resistance, good alkali resistance, and low MVT. Historically, they have
been used on the interior and exterior of steel potable water tanks and in
applications where good chemical resistance is desired. Their use today,
however, has become almost nonexistent because of air pollution

Chlorinated rubbers : These resins are formed by a reaction of rubber

with chlorine. Like the vinyls, they have good chemical resistance and low
MVT. In the past, chlorinated-rubber coatings were used on the interiors
of potable water tanks. They also have excellent adhesion to concrete and
have been used for swimming pools.

Coal tar pitch solution : Coal tar pitch is produced from the destructive
distillation of bituminous coal. A protective coating can be made by simply
dissolving hot pitch in xylene. The cured film has low MVT and good
chemical resistance. Coal tar pitch solutions can be formulated with a
higher solids content (lower VOC) than the other lacquer coatings. These
coatings have excellent adhesion to steel and concrete and are typically
used for sewage and wastewater immersion service. They are only
available in black and have poor resistance to direct sunlight.

Nitrocellulose : This resin is produced by treating cellulose with a mixture

of nitric and sulfuric acids. Nitrocellulose lacquers are widely used as
clear and pigmented furniture finishes. Nitrocellulose is also used as a
film-forming material in flexographic and gravure inks. Sunlight resistance
is poor, so these coatings are most often used for interior applications.

Oxidation and polymerization Generic paints that exhibit the oxidation

and polymerization curing mechanism include oil-based paints, alkyds, and
epoxy esters. Following application of the wet paint film and evaporation of
the solvent, oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere facilitates the linking
together (polymerization) of the resin molecules. Paints that cure by this
process have been available for many years.

Oil-based paints At the turn of the 20th century, the choice of generic
paints was very limited. Most paints were based on vegetable oils such as
linseed oil. These “oil-based” paints exhibited excellent wetting and adhesion
to marginally prepared steel substrates and provided long-term weathering
and corrosion resistance when exposed to many atmospheric conditions. The
biggest disadvantage was very slow dry time.

Alkyds Alkyd technology was developed in the late 1920s. It was discovered
through laboratory testing that by combining a trifunctional alcohol with an
acid salt and reacting them at high temperature, an ester-type resin could be
formed that had very fast dry time. However, the film was too brittle to be
considered as a paint binder. It was then discovered that by incorporating a
vegetable oil such as linseed oil in the same reaction, resins could be
produced that dried more quickly than straight linseed oil, yet had good
enough film properties to be considered as paint binders. This development
revolutionized the paint industry at that time.

Further testing revealed that film properties and dry times could be adjusted
depending on the type and amount of oil included in the reaction.
Terminology that came out of this discovery included alkyd, which stands for
an alcohol/acid reaction, and short-oil, medium-oil, or long-oil alkyd resins.
The short–medium–long terminology designates the amount of oil the alkyd
resin contains. Short-oil alkyds dry more quickly than medium- or long-oil
alkyds, but are generally less flexible and do not produce paints with as good
weatherability and corrosion resistance.

In general, paints that exhibit this curing mechanism produce paint films with
a wide variety of properties depending on the type and amount of oil in the
resin. Overall, alkyd and oil-based paints are less expensive than other
generic types and can provide long-term corrosion protection of steel as long
as the exposure environment is not too severe. Chemical resistance and color
and gloss retention are considered fair to good, depending on the
formulation. Alkyd paint formulations can be modified with other resins, such
as acrylics and silicones, to upgrade color- and gloss-retention properties.

Epoxy esters Epoxy esters are epoxy resins that have been “esterified”
with fatty acids, resin, and so on. Epoxy-ester paints have better chemical
resistance than oil-based or alkyd paints, but they chalk more readily when
exposed to direct sunlight.

The co-reacting curing mechanism Paints that exhibit the co-reacting

(chemical cross-linking) curing mechanism usually have two or more
components. Examples are two-component epoxies, two-component aliphatic
urethanes, two-component fluorourethanes, and two-component polyureas.
In this mechanism, a chemical reaction between two differing resin types is
involved. In general, paints that cure by this mechanism produce cured films
with high cross-linked density, excellent hardness, abrasion resistance,
corrosion resistance, low MVT, and excellent chemical and solvent resistance.
One disadvantage is limited pot life.

Two-component epoxies One component of two-component epoxy contains

an epoxy resin with one or more chemically reactive sites known as epoxide
rings. The second component (a curing agent)

contains an amine or amide-functional resin. When the two paint components

are combined in the proper ratio and applied to a substrate, they chemically
react with each other to form the cured paint film. Performance properties
vary depending primarily on the type of curing agent used. In general,
polyamide-cured epoxies have slightly better adhesion characteristics, better
flexibility, longer pot life, and less acid resistance than the amine-cured
epoxies. It is also more difficult to develop protective coatings with ultra-high
solids (90 to 100 percent) using polyamide-cured epoxies than it is for those
using amine-cured epoxies. With few exceptions, two-component epoxies
chalk readily when exposed to direct sunlight.

Two-component epoxies can be modified with coal tar pitch, producing coal
tar epoxy coatings. The coal tar pitch is usually added to the polyamide or
polyamine curing agent. Properly formulated, these coatings can be applied
up to 20 mil (508 μm) dry film thickness (DFT) in a single coat. They typically
cost less than unmodified two-component epoxies and have low MVT and
good chemical resistance. They are most often used for protecting steel and
concrete substrates from immersion in sewage and wastewater.

Two-component polyurethanes Urethane coatings are generally divided

into aromatic and aliphatic types. They are noted for their overall balance of
high-performance properties. These include excellent toughness, chemical
and solvent resistance, hardness, and abrasion resistance. One component
typically contains a hydroxyl-functional polyol resin that cross-links with a
second component containing an isocyanate-functional polyisocyanate resin.

Aliphatic polyurethanes usually contain an acrylic or polyester polyol portion.

When cross-linked with an aliphatic isocyanate, they exhibit excellent color
and gloss retention when exposed to direct sunlight. They are expensive and
are most often used as thin-film topcoats over two-component epoxies.

Aromatic polyurethanes generally have better adhesion to steel and are less
expensive, but they tend to yellow when exposed to direct sunlight. They are
often used as direct-to-steel or direct-to-concrete stand-alone coating
systems. Some formulations can be used for immersion service.

Two-component fluorourethanes Fluoropolymer-based coatings are

known for their outstanding color and gloss retention when exposed to direct
sunlight. Kynar ®-based coatings have been around for many years but
require baking at high temperature for proper film formation.

Two-component fluorourethane coatings are a relatively new technology.

These coatings exhibit the co-reacting curing mechanism at ambient
conditions. One component typically contains hydroxyl- and carboxyl-
functional fluoroethylene vinyl ether (FEVE) resin. Fluorourethane coatings
generally exhibit the same performance properties as two-component
aliphatic polyurethanes, but they have much better long-term color- and
gloss-retention properties.

Two-component polyureas These coatings are usually 100 percent solids,

cure extremely quickly (sometimes within seconds of application), and have
extremely short pot life. Specialized plural-component spray equipment is
required. One component contains either aromatic or aliphatic isocyanate-
functional polyisocyanate resin; the other component contains an amine-
functional resin that cross-links with the polyisocyanate resin when the two
components are mixed together in the proper ratio.

Because they are 100 percent solids and exhibit an extremely fast cure
response, these coatings can be spray applied in one coat at very high film
thickness. Depending on formulation, a wide range of performance
properties can be achieved using this technology. Rigid or elastomeric
(greater than 100 percent elongation) formulas are possible. Chemical
resistance is generally very good, and some formulations are suitable for
immersion service. One hundred percent solids, two-component polyurethane
coatings are also available. Although their properties are generally similar to
those of the polyureas, they are less flexible and have better chemical

Baking enamels These are coatings with two co-reacting resins packaged
in the same container. One resin is typically a polyester or acrylic containing
one or more hydroxyl groups. The other resin is usually a melamine or urea
formaldehyde. Cross-linking of the resin molecules only takes place at high
temperatures (generally above 250ºF [121ºC]). Home appliances such as
stoves, refrigerators, washers, and dryers have metal substrates that are
protected with baking enamels. Components are painted in the shop and
then sent through ovens, where the coating cures (usually in 10 to 15
minutes) at high temperature. Pot life is not a concern, since cure (co-
reacting) will not take place at ambient temperatures. MOISTURE CURE

Polyurethanes Some aromatic and aliphatic urethane resins are designed to

react with atmospheric moisture to form a cured film. These resins are
usually based on toluene diisocyanate (TDI) or dephenylmethane diisocyanate
(MDI). In the presence of atmospheric moisture (humidity), the resin
molecules react with each other to form cured films. Single-package aromatic
urethane primers, intermediate coats, and topcoats containing aluminum or
micaceous iron oxide pigments are available that cure by this mechanism.
The aromatic urethane types typically have excellent wetting and adhesion
characteristics, even to marginally prepared surfaces, and offer excellent
barrier-protection properties. For better color and gloss retention, single-
package aliphatic urethane topcoats are also available that cure by this
mechanism. COALESCENCE

Emulsion (latex paints) Water-based paints such as acrylic and polyvinyl

acetate (PVA) emulsions exhibit the coalescence curing mechanism. Acrylic
emulsion resin (acrylic latex), for example, consists of small droplets of acrylic
resin emulsified in water. The applied wet paint film cures through solvent
evaporation (mostly water) and coalescence. As the water evaporates, the
emulsified acrylic resin droplets get closer together. When most of the water
is evaporated, an organic solvent known as a coalescing agent causes the
resin droplets to flow together, forming a smooth, continuous paint film.
Water-based emulsions are often used as interior (PVA) and exterior (acrylic)
house paints. They are also used for other architectural applications.
Substrates that are coated with emulsion paints include masonry (concrete,
concrete block, plaster, and so on.), wood, and drywall. Specially formulated
acrylic emulsion paints are also available for direct-to-metal applications.

Free-radical polymerization Polyesters and vinyl esters have been used

extensively for specialty applications since the 1960s. They are based on
unsaturated prepolymer resins that are dissolved in an unsaturated
monomer such as styrene. By addition of peroxide catalyst, carbon-to-carbon
double-bond sites react with each other to form the cured film. Although the
monomer (styrene) is volatile in the liquid state, it acts as a cross-linking
agent and is incorporated into the film.

The polyesters form hard, dense, chemical- and water-resistant films. They
are used primarily as laminating resins and gel coats for the manufacture of
fiberglass boats, shower stalls, bathtubs, bowling balls, and so on.

The vinyl esters have excellent acid resistance and are used primarily as
fiberglass-reinforced and nonreinforced linings for steel and concrete
substrates that come in contact with strong acids. Because of their reactive
nature, vinyl esters have poor package stability, resulting in short shelf life,
especially at high storage temperatures.

Hydrolysis The primary use of ethyl silicates and polysilicates, which are
among the few resins that are not based on organic polymers, is in the
formulation of inorganic zinc-rich primers. The curing mechanism is similar to
the curing mechanism for concrete (cement). An inorganic zinc-rich primer
contains considerable metallic zinc dust, typically more than 70 percent by
weight in the cured film. When the liquid paint is applied and the solvent
evaporates, moisture from the surrounding air is absorbed into the film,
setting up the hydrolysis process. In the case of ethyl silicates, complex
chemical reactions occur, forming a silicon oxide (SiO) matrix in which a small
amount of resin binder holds together a large amount of metallic-zinc
pigment. Upon complete hydrolysis (curing), the applied film is very hard,
dense, and resistant to abrasion and solvents. Inorganic zinc-rich primers
protect steel from corrosion by galvanic action. The zinc becomes the anode
in the corrosion battery and the steel becomes the cathode. The zinc
sacrifices itself to protect the steel in a process that is similar to that
exhibited by galvanized-steel substrates. Inorganic zinc-rich primers are
resistant to high temperatures (up to 750ºF [399ºC]), are difficult to topcoat,
and have poor acid resistance.

Additives In addition to the primary paint ingredients (resin, pigment, and

solvent), most paint formulations contain one or more additives. Although
they comprise a minor portion of the liquid paint (usually less than 2 percent
by weight), additives play an essential role. Most are rheology agents that
positively affect the properties of the paint in the can and during application.
Following are a few of the additives used to enhance paint properties.

Antisettling agents : There is probably more of this additive used each

year than any other paint additive. Since pigment is the heaviest paint
ingredient, gravity causes it to settle to the bottom of the container.
Antisettling agents do not actually prevent pigment from settling, but they
keep it from hard packing in the bottom of the container. This makes it
much easier to stir the pigment into a homogeneous mixture with the
other ingredients. The most widely used antisettling agent is
hydrogenated castor oil (trade name: MPA).

Thixotropic agents : These additives are used to incorporate the property

known as false body or high viscosity at rest. This property is essential to
paints that are to be applied without runs or sags to vertical surfaces at
high dry film thickness.

Defoamers : Defoamers are essential additives for water-based paints and

certain solvent-based paints to prevent bubbles during manufacture
and/or in the applied film. They are normally silicone based and change
the surface tension of water and organic solvents.

Driers : For driers, metallic soaps are added to oil-based or alkyd paints to
accelerate the oxidation and polymerization process.

Mildewcides : Paint films that contain natural (nonsynthetic) ingredients

promote mildew growth when they are exposed to warm, damp conditions.
Mildewcides are used as additives in these types of paints to prevent
mildew growth. Most alkyd and latex paints contain mildewcides.

Anti-skinning agents : These are antioxidants used in oil-based or alkyd

paints to prevent skinning (drying at the surface) in the can.

Pigment wetting agents : These additives are usually silicone based and
are incorporated into paint formulas to assist the resin in surrounding and
wetting out each of the dispersed pigment particles.

3.5. Coating Calculations

The spreading rate (coverage) of any gallon of paint depends on its

nonvolatile (solids) content. One gallon occupies a volume of 231 in. (0.0038
m 3) or 0.1337 ft 3
(0.0038 m 3). If a gallon or liter of paint contained no
volatile (solvent) and it could be applied without any losses, the spreading
rate obtained applied at 1.0 mil (25.4 μm) would be 1,604 ft (149 m 2). This
figure is expressed as the theoretical spreading rate per gallon or liter.

If a gallon or liter of paint contains volatile and its percentage of total volume
solids is known, its spreading rate, wet-to-dry film ratio, and cost per applied
mil per square foot (per applied micron per square meter) can be calculated
as follows:

Theoretical spread rate @ 1.0 mil DFT = Percent of volume solids × 1,604 ft 2

Spread rate @ DFTs other than 1.0 mil = Percent of volume solids × 1,604 ft
2 /specified DFT

Wet film thickness = DFT/percent volume solids

Cost per mil per sq ft = Cost per gallon/spread rate @ 1.0 mil DFT

3.5.1. Example

Let us assume we have one gallon of paint that is 50 percent volume solids.
The specified DFT is 5 mil and the cost per gallon is $22. With this
information, we can make the following calculations:

Theoretical spread rate @ 1.0 mil DFT = 0.50 × 1,604 ft = 802 ft 2/gal

Spread rate at specified 5.0 mil DFT = 0.50 × 1,604 ft 2/5 = 160 ft 2/gal

Wet film thickness = 5.0/0.50 = 10 mil

Cost per mil per sq ft = $22/gal/802 = 2.74 cents/ft 2

3.5.2. Corrosion Protection of Steel Water Tanks with Liquid -Applied

A protective coating is a material that, when applied to a structure, isolates

the structure from its environment. Properly applied protective coatings are
a cost-effective way to protect both exterior and interior tank surfaces. A
coating applied to the interior wet surfaces of a tank is also called a lining.
Both exterior and interior coating systems must be carefully selected to
provide the best protection value for the money based on coating life,
effectiveness of protection, ease of application, and ease of adding coats in
future years. Many protective coating systems have become much more
complex than the single-component materials that were prevalent before

D102 is the AWWA standard for painting the interior and exterior of steel
water tanks. The objective of this standard is to provide information about
various coating systems for coating and recoating the interior and exterior of
steel tanks used for potable water storage. Coating systems for new bolted-
steel tanks are not covered by this standard.

AWWA D102 is not a specification. AWWA standards describe minimum

requirements and do not contain all of the engineering and administration
information normally contained in specifications. Specifying engineers often
reference specific interior and exterior coating systems contained in D102
when writing detailed specifications for a steel water tank painting project.

3.5.3. D102—Past, Present, and Future

The first edition of this standard was approved by the AWWA Board of
Directors on February 11, 1964. The second edition was approved on January
28, 1978, and subsequently withdrawn on June 23, 1991. The standard was
reissued and subsequently approved by the AWWA Board of Directors on
February 2, 1997. The third edition was approved in 2003.

Inside and outside coating systems contained in D102 have changed

substantially from one edition to the next (Table 3-1).

Following are the primary reasons that substantial changes have been made
to inside and outside coating systems over the years:
Advances in coatings technology

State and federal regulations limiting the amount of organic solvent

contained in protective coatings (VOC regulations); these regulations
essentially eliminated the use of chlorinated rubber and vinyl coating

Restrictions placed on certain coating ingredients such as red lead and

zinc chromate

Introduction of National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)/ANSI Standard 61

Drinking Water System Components–Health Effects in the late 1980s, which
virtually eliminated some inside coating systems because of potential
extraction of high levels of harmful ingredients into drinking water.

Standard Outside Coating Inside Coating

Systems Systems

AWWA D102 Alkyd Red lead/aluminum

–64 Vinyl phenolic
Red lead/linseed oil, Vinyl
alkyd Zinc/phenolic
Metallic aluminum High-solids vinyl
Cold-applied wax
Hot-applied wax
Metallic zinc
Hot coal tar enamel
Cold-applied coal
Cold taste-and-
odor tar

AWWA D102 Alkyd Two-component

–78 Vinyl epoxy
Alkyd/silicone alkyd Vinyl
Alkyd (two primer Chlorinated rubber
coats) High-solids vinyl
Chlorinated Hot-applied coat
rubber/alkyd tar
Cold-applied coal
Metallic sprayed

ANSI/AWWA Alkyd Two-component

D102–97 Alkyd (two primer epoxy (two coats)
coats) Two-component
Alkyd/silicone alkyd epoxy (three coats)
Vinyl Zinc-rich
Epoxy/epoxy/aliphatic primer/epoxy/epoxy
urethane Vinyl
Zinc-rich Hot-applied coal
primer/epoxy/ tar
aliphatic urethane Cold-applied coal

ANSI/AWWA Alkyd Two-component

D102–03 Moisture-cured epoxy (two coats)
polyurethane Two-component
Water-based acrylic epoxy (three coats)
emulsion Inorganic
Zinc-rich zinc/epoxy/epoxy
primer/epoxy/ 100 percent solids
fluorourethane polyurethane
Epoxy/epoxy/aliphatic Organic
polyurethane zinc/epoxy/epoxy
aliphatic urethane

Sources: AWWA standards D102–64, D102–78,

ANSI/AWWA D102–97, ANSI/ AWWA D102–03.
Note: ANSI = American National Standards Institute.

Inside and outside coating systems contained in future editions of D102 will
be further restricted by the continued implementation of more stringent VOC
regulations for both shop- and field-applied protective coatings. Future
editions of D102 will most likely only contain inside and outside coating
systems that are very high solids based or water based.

3.6. Surface Preparation

Before a protective coating system can be applied to a steel or concrete

water storage tank, appropriate surface preparation must be undertaken.
The purpose of surface preparation is twofold: to clean the substrate of
contaminants and to roughen or “profile” smooth surfaces to ensure
mechanical adhesion of the first (primer) coat. Welds may be ground, corners
and edges may be smoothed, and voids may be filled so that the applied
coating system does not fail prematurely.

The Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC), established in 1950 and

headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, assesses and advances surface
preparation and its understanding by conducting research and “developing
standards, specifications, and guides covering techniques and materials of
surface preparation.” NACE International is a professional technical society
that provides education and communicates information to protect people,
assets, and the environment from the effects of corrosion. It, too, develops
surface preparation and other standards, provides education and
certification, and publishes numerous books and journals. Founded in 1943,
NACE is the largest organization in the world committed to the study of
corrosion, with a membership consisting of 15,000 engineers, scientists, and
researchers in 91 countries.

Together, these two organizations have issued joint standards that are
commonly referenced by those who need to specify proven surface
preparation methods. For example, AWWA D102–03 Standard for Coating
Steel Water-Storage Tanks cites four SSPC/NACE surface preparation
standards (SP10/NACE 2 Near White Blast Cleaning, SP6/NACE 3 Commercial
Blast Cleaning, SP7/NACE 4 Brush-Off Blast Cleaning, and SP11 Power Tool
Cleaning to White Metal). Surface preparation methods vary and may not be
appropriate for all materials of construction. Methods may use abrasive blast
cleaning (SP10/NACE 2, SP6/NACE 3, and SP7/NACE 4, for example), hand or
power tools (SP2, SP3, SP11, and SP15, for example), or water under pressure
(SP12/NACE 5, for example).
The surface preparation standards listed previously are primarily used for
steel surfaces. Methods such as SP13/NACE 6 Surface Preparation of
Concrete exist for cementitious substrates. In addition, SP13/NACE 6 further
identifies surface preparation practices developed by ASTM International,
formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials. Organized in 1898,
ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards development
organizations in the world. ASTM International is a not-for-profit organization
that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary
consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services. Surface
preparation is so important to the successful completion of a water tank
project that members of AWWA, ASTM, and other organizations donate time
to review and update industry standards and methods and to develop new
standards and methods as to surface preparation equipment improves and

Figure 3-9. Surface preparation under controlled conditions.

3.6.1. Surface Preparation—Steel

For welded-steel water-storage tanks, surface preparation completed in a

fabrication shop before the first (primer) coats are applied is understandably
faster and easier than surface preparation that must be carried out after
erection. Shop conditions are controlled, in that operations can be continued
regardless of outside weather. Lighting and access to all areas of the
structure being fabricated are generally superior to field lighting and access
(Fig. 3-9). After cleaning, steel plate surfaces are abrasive blasted to remove
mill scale and/or create a surface profile to which the applied coating will
adhere. Abrasive blasting operations may be performed within an enclosed
chamber or booth or by an operator using an open nozzle. Speed and
efficiency are two of the advantages of centrifugal blasting machines; open-
nozzle blasting (Fig. 3-10) may allow an operator more time to prepare
difficult-to-access areas.

Figure 3-10. Open-nozzle blasting.

AWWA D102–03 Section 1.2, Surface Preparation, paragraph states for
outside surfaces of new tanks:

Exterior surfaces shall be cleaned in accordance with SSPC SP6/NACE 3. If

specified, tanks located in coastal areas or industrial environments shall
be blast cleaned to SSPC SP10/NACE 2. Blast cleaned surfaces shall have a
surface profile that is appropriate for the specific primer and coating
system as recommended by the manufacturer of the coating.

For outside surfaces of existing tanks, AWWA D102–03 Section 1.2, paragraph, states:
When the…coating system will adhere to the existing coating, all corrosion
products and deteriorated coatings shall be removed by spot cleaning to
SSPC SP11 or SSPC SP6/NACE 3 and the remainder of the exterior surfaces
shall be cleaned by SSPC SP7/NACE 4 or by washing with an alkaline
cleaner…to remove all dirt, dust, coating/paint chalk, and foreign matter.
When the new coating system is not compatible with the existing coating,
all existing coatings shall be removed and the surfaces blast cleaned to
SSPC SP6/NACE 3 or, if specified, to SSPC SP10/NACE 2.

For interior surfaces of new tanks, AWWA D102–03 Section 1.2, paragraph, states:

The interior surfaces of new tanks shall be cleaned in accordance with

SSPC SP10/NACE 2, excluding interior surfaces of dry risers and dry
pedestals. Interior surfaces of dry risers and dry pedestals shall be
cleaned in accordance with SSPC-SP6/NACE 3. Blast-cleaned surfaces shall
have a surface profile that is appropriate for the specific primer and
coating system as recommended by the manufacturer of the coating.

Finally, for interior surfaces of existing tanks, paragraph states:

When existing coatings have not deteriorated extensively and the new
coating system will adhere to and is compatible with the existing coating,
all corrosion products and deteriorated coatings shall be removed by spot
blasting to SSPC SP10/NACE 2 and the remainder of the interior surfaces
shall be cleaned by SSPC SP7/NACE 4. When existing coatings have
deteriorated extensively or the new coating system is not compatible with
the existing coating, all existing coatings shall be removed and the
surfaces cleaned to SSPC SP10/NACE 2. Blast-cleaned surfaces shall have a
surface profile that is appropriate for the specific primer and coating
system in accordance with the coating manufacturer’s recommendations.

Steel plate for bolted tanks may be prepared by first cleaning and rinsing in
a hot alkaline solution followed immediately by hot-air drying. This process
removes not only dirt but also hydrocarbon contaminants that will prevent
future coating adhesion. Thereafter, these plates are sent through a
centrifugal blast machine where an approximately 2-mil-deep (51-μm-deep)
profile is made on the surface in accordance with SSPC SP10 Near White Blast
Cleaning procedures.
AWWA D103 Standard for Factory-Coated Bolted Steel Tanks for Water
Storage recommends that tank components to be protected with glass
coatings receive either Near White Blast Cleaning (SSPC SP10) or, as an
alternative, Pickling (SSPC SP8).

3.6.2. Surface Preparation—Concrete

Surface preparation for concrete water-storage tanks is different from

surface preparation for steel. Most surfaces of concrete tanks are already
rough due to the way these vessels are constructed, so there is little need to
add a profile. This coarse surface characteristic allows for good adhesion of
paints and coatings. That does not mean, however,

that water tanks constructed of concrete are without their own surface
preparation requirements.

What needs to be accomplished is the removal of areas of poorly adhered

concrete—flake-shaped fragments that detach from the surface of concrete in
a process known as spalling. Laitance, a poorly adhered layer of concrete,
may also be found on concrete surfaces and must be removed. Although less
severe and less damaging than spalling, laitance comprises cement and tiny
particles called fines that may be caused by improper vibration of concrete
within forms. Left unrepaired, spalling may continue and expose reinforcing
bars to corrosion, causing damage to the water tank that is difficult to repair.
One way to remove spalling and laitance is by mechanical means, in
accordance with ASTM D4259.

Roughening of concrete surfaces may be desired on cast-in-place concrete

surfaces, such as composite tank columns. These smooth, as-cast surfaces
may not be of uniform appearance, so abrasive blasting—again in accordance
with ASTM D4259—helps to regulate the appearance of the completed
pedestal tower. “Bugholes,” small irregular cavities uncovered by surface
preparation procedures, should be filled with an appropriate material so they
will not trap airborne contaminants and mold spores.

Occasionally, bolted tanks without bottoms are constructed and placed on

concrete slabs. These concrete slabs act as the floor and must be
constructed of materials that will not leach out into the potable water supply
and thereby contaminate it. NSF International, founded in 1944 as the
National Sanitation Foundation, created ANSI/NSF Standard 61, a certification
protocol that addresses these concerns. Regarding “bottomless” tanks
resting on a concrete base, NSF may recommend that these concrete
surfaces be constructed of ANSI/NSF 61-certified cements and admixtures, for
example, or coated with an ANSI/NSF 61-certified coating before being placed
in service. These concrete floor surfaces would also require surface
preparation prior to the application of ANSI/NSF 61-approved paints and
coatings. Once again, preparation routines in accordance with ASTM D4259
may be used.

Even though most concrete tank surfaces may need little to no roughening,
they do require cleaning. The SSPC SP12 standard for low-pressure water
cleaning, WJ4, will accomplish this. This procedure usually removes loose
shotcrete clusters and may remove debris left behind by, or concrete
escaping through, placement forms. Placement forms are coated with release
agents or compounds to prevent adhesion of concrete to these forms and
thereby allow placement forms to be removed cleanly. These compounds may
act as contaminants, however, and prevent adhesion of paints and coatings.
WJ4 may be specified for this purpose. If non–water soluble or non–water
dispersible form-release compounds are used, low-pressure water cleaning
will not remove them, and abrasive blast cleaning through the use of ASTM
D4259 may be required.

Concrete surfaces, because they are porous, also absorb moisture. Whether
because of rain or the use of water when cleaning equipment for surface
preparation, these surfaces must be allowed to dry before coating. The
length of, and need for, time to dry are influenced both by the temperature
and humidity at the tank site and by the type of coating to be applied to the

3.7. Coating Selection

To the residents of the community or neighborhood closest to a water-

storage tank, how the tank looks—its exterior color and design—may be the
most important characteristic. The city name or the name and mascot of the
local high school may be emblazoned on the elevated steel tank for all to see.
In contrast, residents living near ground concrete storage tanks may not
want them visible at all, desiring them to blend into the background
landscape. Enhancements are made to both steel and concrete tanks to
increase their visual impact. Such enhancements may be from fabrications
such as pilasters or simply from the allure of carefully chosen and illustrated
paints and coatings.

Understandably, residents want the exterior surfaces of water storage tanks

to remain colorfast and appealing. But the interior surfaces, which few see,
are in fact more important, because it is there where bacteria can grow and
corrosion can occur undetected. Coating systems for both interior and
exterior surfaces can be selected based on information provided by tank
fabricators, by coating manufacturers and their representatives, by the
owner’s or specifier’s preference, or by reviewing applicable AWWA

3.7.1. Interior Surfaces—Welded-Steel Tanks

An interior coating system in the wetted areas of the tank must withstand
constant immersion; it must be able to resist alternate wetting and drying in
the upper portion of the operating range and high humidity above the top
capacity level; it must be resistant to the actions of ice abrasion in cold
climates; and, in some geographic areas, it must be able to withstand
extreme temperature fluctuations. In addition, interior coating systems must
be able to be both shop-applied and field-applied, must be cost-effective, and
must meet the minimum requirements of ANSI/NSF 61 Standard for Drinking
Water System Components.

For interior surfaces of tanks, ANSI/AWWA D102 lists five interior coating
systems (Table 3-2). Such coatings “shall have been evaluated for long-term
fresh water resistance and the system shall have demonstrated satisfactory
service in fresh water for at least 18 months. Any coating that cannot meet
these requirements, whether or not included in this standard, shall not be

ICS Number Description

1 Two-coat, two-
component epoxy

2 Three-coat, two-
component epoxy
3 Three-coat,
interior nonimmersed
surfaces above TCL

4 One-coat polyurethane
or polyureas

5 Three-coat
interior surfaces
above and below TCL

Note: ICS = interior coating system; TCL =

top capacity level.

3.7.2. Interior Surfaces—Bolted-Steel Tanks

Interior surfaces of bolted-steel tanks are subjected to the same conditions

as are welded-steel tanks and must also be protected by specially designed
coating systems. ANSI/AWWA D103 Section 10.3–10.6 allows four protective
coating systems to be used: galvanized coatings, glass coatings, thermoset
liquid (epoxy) coatings, and thermoset powder (epoxy) coatings.

Glass coating systems may begin with a primer coat of catalytic nickel oxide
prior to the application of 6 to 19 mil (152 to 482 μm) of the glass coating,
firing, and fusion of the glass coating to the substrate in a furnace operating
at temperatures above 1,200ºF (649ºC).

Thermoset liquid (epoxy) coating systems are generally applied in two coats.
The first coating is applied and heated to create a tacky, partially cured first
coat followed by additional coating to achieve a minimum 5-mil (127-μm) DFT.
It is subsequently baked at 425 to 525ºF (218 to 274ºC), to thermally cross-
link the complete coating system.

Thermoset powder (epoxy) coating systems are electrostatically applied to

achieve a minimum 3-mil (76-μm) DFT prior to oven curing and baking.
According to ANSI/AWWA D103, when galvanized coatings are to be supplied,
“zinc metal suitable for immersion in drinking water shall be applied to the
tank parts after fabrication in accordance with the recommended practice of
the American Hot Dip Galvanizers Association in compliance with ASTM A123
and ASTM A153.”

3.7.3. Exterior Surfaces—Welded-Steel Tanks

As mentioned earlier, the exterior coating attracts more attention and may
cause more concern than any other aspect of a tank project because it is all
that the neighboring community sees.

OCS Number Description

1 Three-coat (optional four-coat)


2 Three-coat moisture-cured

3 Three-coat water-based acrylic

4 Three-coat zinc

5 Three-coat epoxy

6 Three-coat zinc

Note: OCS = outside coating system.

For exterior surfaces of tanks, ANSI/AWWA D102–03 lists six outside coating
systems (Table 3-3). According to the standard, “[p]roprietary formulations
will be acceptable provided the coating is of the same generic type and that
the performance of the formulation offered meets or exceeds the
performance of the formulation defined in the referenced coating standard
and also is suitable for the specified service conditions.”

3.7.4. Exterior Surfaces—Bolted-Steel Tanks

Tanks fabricated in compliance with ANSI/AWWA D103 and protected with

thermoset liquid or thermoset powder coatings are top-coated with acrylic or
urethane baking enamels to yield a minimum of 3-mil (76-μm) DFT.

Regarding the occasional repair and touch-up of welded- and bolted-steel

tank coating systems, it is very important to remember that such activity
does not require the full removal and replacement of the coating system.
Repair and touch-up are only required in areas that have been damaged, and
it is only after many years of service that welded- and bolted-steel tanks
require overcoating and/or complete repainting. Table 3-4 describes common
water tank coating characteristics.

3.8. Application Techniques and Equipment

By definition, a protective coating is a material that is applied to the exterior

of the tank that acts as an insulator between the tank and its environment. A
protective lining has a similar definition, the major difference being that the
protective lining system is applied to the interior of the tank and acts as a
barrier between the tank and its cargo.

* Some generic classifications are not used as topcoats.

† Some generic classifications do not include primers.
‡ Each generic classification is rated for its adhesion to primer or
existing coating.
§ Some generic classifications should not be used as topcoats.
¶ Polyureas, epoxies, and zinc-rich primers are interior coatings or
are topcoated. They do not have color and gloss exterior
Many considerations need to be taken into account when selecting the
proper interior and exterior protective systems, including governmental
regulations, various environmental considerations, the effectiveness of the
protection, the ease (or difficulty) of application, and the anticipated service
life of both the coating and the structure. For instance, an interior lining
must be able to withstand constant immersion in water, varying water
temperatures, alternate cycles of wet and dry periods, ice abrasion, high
humidity and heat, and varying levels of chlorine and mineral contact. The
lining materials must not pose a health risk to the general public and must be
approved for such use by the appropriate state or federal regulatory agency.
Alternately, an exterior coating system should take into consideration the
type of atmosphere to which it will be subjected, the expected ambient
temperatures, the areas surrounding the tank, and the desired overall
appearance and aesthetic value of the coating.

In some cases, the entire coating system may be applied in a shop

environment; in other cases, the coating system may be applied entirely in
the field. Quite often, though, it is in a combination of these two settings.
Each method will be examined individually.

3.8.1. Shop Application

The two major advantages in applying a protective coating in a shop

environment are control and accessibility. Often the interior and exterior
sections receive just a primer coating in anticipation of field application of
the subsequent coatings specified. This is done to allow fabricators to
quickly clean, prepare, and prime the surface in accordance with
specifications while still allowing them the ability to continue working the
plate and shipping it without compromising the surface preparation. When
this approach is taken, an area is generally left uncoated around the
perimeter of each plate, commonly referred to as the margin. The margin
area can vary by specification but is usually between 4 and 6 in. (102 and 152
mm) wide. This allows for field welding to be performed during the erection
in the field. Of course, these areas will not meet the surface cleanliness
requirements of the specification, and they will need to be addressed in the
field prior to the continued application of the coating system. This will be
covered in more detail in the following section on field painting.

In some instances, the entire protective coating system is applied in the shop
—for example, with bolted tanks. The steel panels are generally coated
following roll forming and bolt-hole punching. In this situation, a thermoset
liquid coating may be applied and then baked at a prescribed temperature,
or a thermoset powder coating may be applied and then baked according to
the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the type of interior lining
system, the bake temperatures can vary between 425ºF (218ºC) and (in the
case of a glass lining)

1,600ºF (870ºC). Factory-applied lining systems are discussed in more detail

in AWWA D103. The factory-applied liquid baked-on exterior coating systems
generally combine epoxy primer with an acrylic enamel topcoat or an acrylic
polyurethane topcoat.

The basic premise of a shop application of the protective coating system,

whether it be the primer or the entire system, is that since application is all
performed on the ground and under controlled shop conditions, the result
will be (and most often is) a very uniformly applied and fully cured protective
coating system. However, the coating system is often damaged during
loading, transporting, unloading, and erection of the plates. Depending on
the extent of the damage, major field work may be needed for repair.
Anticipating this situation, a combination of shop priming and field painting
is often employed.

3.8.2. Field Painting

Although coating and/or lining systems applied in the field share many of the
considerations we reviewed under shop-applied coatings, other factors
specific to field painting need to be evaluated. Among these items are the
type of lining that is environmentally compliant, tank heating and ventilating,
dehumidification requirements, the landscape surrounding the tank, and the
type of environment that the tank is subject to during the preparation,
application, and cure of the lining and coating systems (e.g., chloride sources
in a marine environment).

Generally speaking, the interior of the tank requires the highest degree of
surface cleanliness and preparation. Many of the protective lining systems
surface cleanliness and preparation. Many of the protective lining systems
require a minimum surface cleanliness equaling an SSPC SP-10/NACE 2 Near
White Metal Blast. In an effort to achieve this, painting contractors typically
blast the bottom of the tank first and then begin to blast the wall section by
section. Each section (called a drop) is blasted and coated during the work
shift unless an environmental control such as dehumidification is needed.
The abrasive used in the cleaning process is allowed to fall to the floor of the
tank and accumulate there. This abrasive provides an insulation of sorts from
the environment so that the initial blast on the floor is held or maintained. If
the blast is lost, the contractor reblasts the floor area and coats it as he is
finishing the interior of the tank. Special care needs to be taken to ensure
that spent blast media is not billowed and deposited into the freshly coated
surface. Although this is a common approach to lining the inside of storage
tanks, it is not the only correct way to perform this task.

When a primer has been applied in the shop and the contractor is only
applying finish coats to the tank in the field, the surface preparation
specification is usually a bit different than that just described. Two concerns
must be addressed: (1) the condition of the shop primer and its preparation
before receiving any topcoats and (2) the weld seam preparation. Typically,
the shop primer is swept blast according to SSPC SP7/NACE 4 Brush-Off Blast
Cleaning, while the weld seams are prepared according to SP10/NACE 2 Near
White Metal Blast. In some cases the primer is reapplied, while in others only
the finish coat(s) are applied. Proper ventilation of the tank’s interior is
critical to ensure a thoroughly cured lining.

When coating the outside of the tank, the consequences of over-spray, dry
spray, and ambient conditions must be considered. Adverse conditions
during surface preparation, coating application, and curing can (and most
often do) lead to premature catastrophic failure of the coating system.
Specifiers and contractors should also be aware of the areas surrounding the
tank and the environment to which the coating system will be subjected. For
example, an elevated water tank in a congested urban area may require
coating materials that can only be roller applied or that tend to “dryfall” if
applied by a sprayer. By way of environmental considerations, coastal
regions may require a coating system that has a higher film build and more
barrier protection to protect the tank from a chloride-rich environment.
Depending on the tank and the contractor, the coating process is completed
in different ways, but completing drops is still the most common way to
ensure that a properly cleaned surface is maintained. Typically, the specified
cleanliness for the exterior of the tank would be an SSPC SP6/NACE 3
Commercial Blast. For a shop-applied primer, the primer is swept blast
according to SP7/NACE 4, while the weld seams require SP6/NACE 3. Again, a
primer may be reapplied if specified or the finish coats may be applied over
the prepared existing primer.

3.8.3. Equipment and Techniques

Many shops that use liquid coatings apply them with spray equipment, which
has undergone many improvements since the introduction of conventional
spray units. This section briefly describes methods and equipment for
applying protective coating and lining systems in both shop and field. In the
field, paint contractors typically use rollers or airless spray systems.
However, because of new coating technology and new environmental
concerns and legislation, plural-component spray equipment is increasingly
showing up on tank coating projects. The use of brushes and rollers in a
shop environment is mostly limited. Brushes and rollers are typically used for
touch-up or to coat difficult or complexly designed areas. BRUSHES

Brushes are not as high tech as sprayers, and many consider them an
outdated way to apply paint. However, many situations still require their use.
A “stripe coat,” often specified for added protection of edges,

rivets, corners, bolts, and welds, is best applied by a brush, because it

improves the wetting capabilities of the coating by forcing the coating into
areas that would be problematic if sprayed or roller applied. A worker
applying a coating by brush should hold the brush at an angle of
approximately 45 degrees and, using the wrist and arm, spread the coating
evenly and quickly onto the substrate. Once the coating is evenly spread, it
should be smoothed by light brush strokes to eliminate any irregularities.
When the next brushload of coating is applied, the final smoothing strokes
should extend from the newly applied coating into the previous brush-applied
adjacent area. This spreads the coating over the overlap between the two
areas and provides a smooth, uniform coating over the whole surface while
maintaining the wet edge (the end of the stroke of the previous applied
coating). As the next brushload of coating is applied, the painter should
sweep the coating from the substrate back into the wet edge of the previous
application to help prevent lap marks. It is also important to brush out over
an edge, not against it. Brushing against an edge creates an action that pulls
the coating away, causing a thin area on the edge. ROLLERS

Rollers have earned a bit more respect than brushes, but their production
results still pale in comparison with results of spray application. Application
by roller is faster than application by brush, but is not quite as fast as
application by spraying. Because the roller cover holds considerably more
coating than a brush, a much larger area can be covered with one load.
Rollers are excellent for large, flat areas—for example, the tops or sidewalls
of tanks. Rollers can be used wherever the skill of a brush or spray
application is not called for. Rollers can also be used if spray applications are
prohibited due to overspray concerns.

The procedure for using the roller is to immerse it in the coating tray or
bucket and roll it back and forth on either a tray ramp or bucket grid on the
inside of the bucket. This removes the excess coating from the roller and
prevents excessive drip and spatter. Continue spreading the liquid coating
onto the surface in the form of a W or an M over an area that one roller’s
worth of coating will cover. After initially spreading the coating by this
method, fill in the area by rolling the roller back and forth over the entire
surface being covered. Finish by rolling the coating in one direction. This is
called laying off, and it aids in developing a uniform finished appearance.
Spraying and backrolling is another example where the roller is used to
ensure a uniform application and finish. CONVENTIONAL S PRAY EQUIPMENT

Many shops apply the protective coatings with what is termed conventional
air spray equipment. This method uses compressed air to atomize the paint
as it exits the spray gun. In other words, air is injected into a stream of paint
through the air nozzle in front of the gun, creating the mist that is propelled
out. The basic components needed to apply paint by air spray are an air
compressor, paint pot or cup, oil and moisture separators, air supply hoses,
material hose, regulators, and air spray paint gun (Fig. 3-11).
Figure 3-11. Components needed to apply paint by air spray.
(Courtesy of Spray-Quip, Inc., Houston, TX.)

The most important element in air spray painting, as in other application

methods, is the person operating the gun. Conventional air spray equipment
affords the applicator a great level of control and results in a high-quality
finish. The applicator is responsible for applying the paint correctly, using
the best technique, and keeping the equipment in good working order.
Generally, coating manufacturers list the optimum pressures for applying
their coatings. They also list the type of gun and the correct sizes of paint
nozzle, air cap, and needle to produce the best-quality applied film. Typically,
external-mix air caps are used. The space between the fluid nozzle and the
air nozzle is called the annular ring. It provides a column of air around the
fluid stream. As the fluid and air leave the air cap, they begin to expand and
mix. As this mixed stream leaves the center of the nozzle, it is further
atomized with additional force from the holes on the horns of the external-mix
air cap. The biggest advantage of a conventional air spray system is the
control the applicator has over the finish; relatively easy adjustments to the
fluid pressure and air pressure give the applicator tremendous flexibility and
versatility. The biggest drawback is probably low transfer efficiency;
conventional air spray equipment has a transfer efficiency of approximately
25 to 30 percent.
Figure 3-12. Standard setup of an airless spray system. (Source:

Because of the low transfer efficiency and slow production time associated
with conventional spray equipment, airless spray equipment was developed
and introduced (Fig. 3-12). Airless sprayers work by pressurizing paint fluid.
The paint travels through a supply hose to an airless spray gun tip, and the
coating atomizes into fine droplets as it exits the tip. In airless spray, as the
name suggests, air is not used to atomize the paint. The basic components of
an airless spray system are a power source, a pressure pump, a paint
container, high-pressure fluid hose, an airless spray gun, and an airless
spray tip. The paint is pressurized by the pump and forced through high-
pressure hose to the airless spray gun. When the stream of high-pressure
coating reaches the airless tip, it is atomized and shaped by the specific size
of the tip. The only adjustment to an airless spray gun is to change the tip.
Coating manufacturers specify the correct tip size and proper atomizing
pressures needed to produce the best-quality applied film.

Figure 3-13. Standard setup of an air-assisted airless spray system.

(Source: Graco)

Although the airless spray applicator does not have the control that a
conventional spray system affords, the trade-off is that greater speed and
greater transfer efficiency value (35 to 50 percent) are possible.

Some have found a way to combine the best features of conventional air
spray with airless spray equipment and have created a new spray finishing
capability. The process has been termed as air-assisted airless spray. This
equipment (Fig. 3-13) uses a standard airless pump and an airless spray tip
to atomize the coating and shape it into a fan pattern. However, in contrast to
normal airless operations, the fluid pressure in an air-assisted airless spray
system is relatively low. As expected, a low fluid pressure (usually below
1,000 psi [6,894 kPa])

fails to produce an acceptable spray pattern, and the resulting pattern has
heavy edges called tails. To eliminate the tails and assist in the atomization
process, air is added at a low volume, typically 1 to 3 cfm (0.47 to 1.41 L/s),
and at a low pressure between 10 and 20 psi (69 and 138 kPa). To this coating
stream, assisting air is directed into the airless pattern through horns on a
special air cap. This results in a good appearance, very good transfer
efficiency (50 to 65 percent), reduced overspray, less tip wear, and longer
pump life due to the lower pressures.

Because of new VOC regulations as well as owners seeking “solvent-free”

coating solutions in order to reduce or eliminate extractables, manufacturers
have begun formulating coatings with much higher percentages of solids.
Fabrication shops and field painters have had to comply with tougher
emission laws and have begun looking for equipment that provides higher
transfer efficiency and higher solids protective coating material application
capability. These concerns have led to the development and refining of
equipment known as electrostatic and plural-component spray equipment.

The main advantages of electrostatic spraying are the savings in materials

and labor and the high transfer efficiencies of material to the surface. In
electrostatic spraying, a high-voltage electrical charge is imparted to the
atomized paint particles via an electrode on the gun, causing the paint
particles to be attracted to the substrate, which is grounded. This virtually
eliminates all overspray. Paint particles that would normally be lost because
of overspray are instead attracted to the edges and even the back of the
substrate. Transfer efficiencies obtained with electrostatic spray painting
range between 65 and 98 percent. The equipment typically used for
electrostatic spraying is the same as that used with conventional air spray
equipment and with airless equipment. However, airless and/or conventional
electrostatic systems have electric power supplies to give the paint the
negative charge needed to draw it to all sides of the substrate being painted.
An electrode at the tip of the gun adds a high-voltage electrostatic charge to
the atomized paint particles (Fig. 3-14). This technology lends itself to the
application of both liquid-applied coatings and powder coatings.

In plural-component spray painting, two-component (or more) catalyzed

coatings are proportioned, mixed, and applied by the spray equipment. This
method is generally for use with coatings that have a very short pot life (from
a few seconds to a few minutes) and a very high solids content (typically 100
percent). The base resin and converter are mixed at the spray gun, or at a
mixing manifold preceding the spray gun. The two components are then
immediately sprayed onto the substrate being coated. There are two basic
types of plural-component systems: fixed ratio and variable ratio. A fixed-ratio
system provides only one ratio of volume for the multiple components of the
coating. A variable-ratio system can be adjusted for different component
ratios (e.g., 1:1, 2:1, 3:1). The equipment consists of two or three airless
pumps (feed pumps) attached to an air motor. The pumps move the coating
components individually from their containers in separate lines to a
proportioning pump. The materials are then normally heated and directed
either to the spray gun tip or to a mixing manifold assembly fitted with one or
more in-line static mixers. From the manifold, the mixed material travels
through a whip hose to the spray gun.

Figure 3-14. Standard setup of an electrostatic spray system.

(Source: ITW Ransburg)

Heaters play an important role with plural-component systems. They are

used to reduce the coating viscosity, improve fluid flow, and optimize the
reactivity of the materials. Heaters are often installed in-line and are placed
on the material containers. The material hoses are often heat traced and
insulated, as well help maintain the desired temperature. Plural-component
systems also use a solvent-fed purge pump that connects the container of
solvent with the back of the mixing manifold. When an applicator shuts down
the equipment, the valve for the purge pump is opened, and a solvent flush is
delivered to flush out any material that could set up in the mixing manifold
(Fig. 3-15).

The mixing manifold, when required, is critical for properly blending and
mixing the materials before they leave the spray gun. The manifold usually
contains a static in-line mixer that works by splitting the coating stream and
rotating it to 90 degrees. This is done numerous times so that the
components are mixed thoroughly when they exit the spray gun.

Figure 3-15. Standard setup of a plural-component spray system.

(Source: JPCL, October 1989)

3.9. Inspection of Linings

3.9.1. Independent Inspector ’s Duties

Coating contracts usually involve a significant investment of both time and

money. The owner has a well-written job specification completed and
conducts some type of bid process to select the coating contractor. The
inspector provides the owner with written assurance that the project has met
the specifications and that the coating system will perform for its intended
full life. The coating inspector is also viewed as providing additional
assurance that the risk of catastrophic failure is significantly decreased or
altogether eliminated. The inspector most often becomes the eyes through
which the owner observes the finished work and determines whether the
contract has been fully satisfied.

Many tests can be performed after the coating has been applied. It is often
difficult to find deficiencies in the coating system, however. Once the job is
finished, a poor job may look the same as a high-quality job. Therefore, it is
important that inspections occur not only at the conclusion of a project, but
also during coating operations. This will help determine that the coating
specification was met. DURING APPLICATION

During the application, the inspector may need to conduct a wide array of
key tests and observations:

Ensure that the proper environmental conditions exist. With the

emergence of new coating technologies, the temperatures and relative
humidity constraints change from product to product, and it is always best
to refer to the manufacturer’s data pages. A good rule of thumb is to
ensure that the steel surface temperature is at least 5ºF (3ºC) above the
dew point and rising.

Ensure that the surface is free of dust, dirt, or any abrasive residue from
the blast cleaning operation.

Ensure that coatings have been properly thinned ahead of time. This
includes being certain that the recommended thinner has been used in the
recommended amount.

Ensure that the wet film is of the proper thickness. This can be determined
by conducting mathematical calculations of the surface area coated and/or
by periodically taking direct readings while the coating is being applied.

Ensure that the coating is applied evenly, that the passes are overlapped,
and that there are no thin spots, discontinuities, dry spray, and so on.

The more often problems during application are addressed immediately, the
greater the likelihood that runs, sags, and discontinuities can easily be
brushed out and corrected. AFTER INSTALLATION

Once the coating installation is complete, the inspector should check that the
proper curing and drying conditions are being maintained. The inspector
should also make certain that there has been no condensation on the surface
or that any type of contamination has been deposited on the coating during
the curing process. Over-spray, pinholes, runs, or any other imperfections not
uncovered at the time of application should be marked now and repaired
before another coat is applied. In many cases, other tests may be required
once the coating application is complete, including the following points:

Discontinuity (holiday) testing: low- or high-voltage type

Dry film thickness measurements: Type I, Type II, or Tooke Gage method

Adhesion testing: tape test or tensile adhesion tests

Degree of cure using durometers or the solvent-resistance method

3.9.2. Inspection Tools

Individuals responsible for quality control should be familiar with basic

inspection tools including those listed here. This is not to be construed as an
exhaustive list.

WFT gauge : The wet film thickness gauge is used to measure the
thickness of paint being applied at the point of application. Two common
gauges used are the interchemical gauge and a notch-type gauge.

DFT gauge : The dry film thickness gauge is used to measure the
thickness of paint after it has been applied and, preferably, cured.

Type 1A magnetic DFT gauge : Commonly called a banana gauge, this is a

single-point lift-off gauge (Fig. 3-16). It measures non-magnetic coatings
over a magnetic surface. It operates by magnetic contact and resistance of
the magnetic force to the surface by the coating thickness. Calibration
assurance in the field is strongly recommended.

Type 1B magnetic DFT gauge : Commonly called a pencil pull-off gauge,

this is a single-point lift-off gauge. It measures nonmagnetic coatings over
a magnetic surface. It operates by magnetic contact and resistance of the
magnetic force to the surface by the coating thickness. Calibration
assurance in the field is strongly recommended.
Type 2 electromagnetic DFT gauge : This gauge measures nonconductive
coatings over a ferrous metal surface. It operates by electromagnetic
contact and resistance of the electromagnetic force to the surface by the
coating thickness. Calibration assurance in the field is strongly

Eddy current gauge : The eddy current gauge (Fig. 3-17) measures
nonconductive coatings over a nonferrous surface. It operates by emitting
an eddy current and measuring the difference between the emitted signal
and the return signal. This difference in time is affected by the coating
thickness. Calibration assurance in the field according to the gauge
manufacturer’s instructions is strongly recommended.

Figure 3-16. Type 1A magnetic DFT gauge (banana gauge). (Source:

Figure 3-17. Type 2 electromagnetic DFT gauge. (Source: KTA-Tator)

Probing knife : This knife is useful in determining adhesion of coatings. It

can be used in conjunction with adhesive tape.

Magnifiers/magnified light scopes : These are useful for closer

examination of substrates and evaluation of pits, contamination, pinholes,

Mirrors and telescoping mirrors : Mirrors are helpful when the applicator
needs to check behind hard-to-reach areas such as nuts and bolts
—wherever direct viewing is impossible.

Surface comparators : These are effective in evaluating various surface

profiles obtained using various abrasive materials.

Replica tape and spring micrometers : Replica tape and micrometers are
often used to determine surface profiles.

Sling psychrometer and U.S. Department of Commerce Weather Bureau

Psychrometric Tables : These are used in conjunction to determine relative
humidity values and dew point temperatures.
Surface temperature gauges and infrared noncontact temperature
gauges : These gauges aid in determining when the surface is approaching
the dew point and when surface temperature is excessive. Either situation
may be problematic and can lead to blistering.

NACE/SP0178 Design, Fabrication, and Surface Finish Practices for

Tanks and Vessels to Be Lined for Immersion Service (also known as
the weld replica standard ): This is quite effective in determining if the
welds have been prepared properly and are in a condition to receive a
protective coating or lining.

Holiday detectors : Both wet-sponge low-voltage and high-voltage DC units

are effective in examining a lining to ascertain the number of
discontinuities (holidays) within it. The low-voltage unit is effective if the
lining is less than 20 mil (508 μm) DFT. The delimiters on the high-voltage
equipment are the coating’s thickness and its dielectric strengths;
voltages can range from 500 to 200,000 V. Neither unit is recommended for
coatings that contain conductive pigments (e.g., aluminum, zinc, and

Adhesion testers : These reveal possible problems with adhesion by

defining a numerical adhesion value in pounds per square inch or
kilopascals and revealing where the break has occurred.

Tooke Gage : Commonly called a paint inspection gauge, the Tooke Gage is
known as “the referee,” so named for its ability to examine individual
coatings within a multicoat system as well as the system in its entirety. It is
highly accurate in determining film thicknesses up to coating films of 50
mil (1,270 μm). Testing with the Tooke Gage is destructive, so repairs will
be required.

Soluble-salt testing (chloride and ferrous ): Wide arrays of tests can be

performed to obtain information determining the presence of invisible
contaminants that will be detrimental to the lining. Two common
extraction methods are the swabbing method and the Bresle patch

In the swabbing method, the salts are extracted by using distilled water
and medicinal-grade wool or cotton swabs. A defined surface area is then
swabbed with the cotton swabs that have been saturated with the distilled
water solution and dried with additional dry cotton swabs. The wet and
dry swabs are then placed back into the beaker containing the distilled
water and stirred for several minutes.

In the Bresle patch method, the salts are extracted by using distilled water
in conjunction with a plastic patch self-adhesive cell and syringe. Distilled
water is injected into the cell, allowed to dwell for 20 seconds, and then
drawn back into the syringe. The same solution is then reintroduced into
the cell, and the process is repeated. This process is conducted a total of
three times.

It is generally accepted by the industry that neither extraction method

removes all of the soluble salts, but only up to a maximum of approximately
45 to 50 percent. Once you have obtained your solution, there are several
methods for measuring the amount of soluble salts obtained, including the

Potassium ferricyanide test

Conductivity test

Kitagawa tube test

Quantab strip test

QuantoFix test


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