SUKANTA MALLIK discusses the cost of corrosion, the imperative to nip it in the bud, and the development of the anti-corrosive product segment in India.
Infrastructure facilities worldwide are deteriorating and literally crumbling for lack of attention to corrosion control as part of an overall maintenance programme. Corrosion most often affects metal structures such as bridges, steel-reinforced concrete and pipelines. Corrosion damage is not always visible to the public, but nevertheless can lead to structural failure, loss of life, loss of capital investment, and environmental damage.
As corrosion has no cure, prevention is the only available solution. World over, and in India, protective coatings are used to help check corrosion. In India, this segment, despite having significant future potential, registered small growth in the past few years owing to an overall slowdown in the construction and infrastructure sector on the back of the subprime crisis. Now that stalled infrastructure projects and the shipbuilding sector are being revived, the demand for anticorrosion material products is also looking up.
The anti-corrosive product segment in India is dominated by foreign suppliers despite the presence of a significant number of domestic suppliers, who are active regionally and benefit from long-standing customer relations. Local manufacturers of construction chemicals are also investing in R&D to create innovative anti-corrosive products that are easy to work with and possess corrosion-inhibiting features to prolong the life of metal.
In India, some of the anticorrosion products that have been in demand are epoxy, polyurethane, rich zinc primer, alkyd, fluorocarbon, acrylic and chlorinated rubber. There has been a gradual shift towards higher quality epoxy and polyurethane coatings recently.
The anti-corrosion coating market is expected to witness a steady growth during this period (from 2014 to 2019) on account of technological advancements, emerging applications and increasing demand from the power generation, automotive and infrastructure sectors. Anti-corrosion coating is used in various end-use industries such as marine, oil and gas, power generation, industrial (repair and maintenance), infrastructure and automotive and transportation, among others, such as water treatment and food and beverages.
Asia-Pacific, the largest market, also offers the highest growth potential over the next five years, primarily on account of developing industries that have attracted the attention of major market players. Europe ranks second in terms of market size, followed by North America. It is expected that new and better products by suppliers and high demand from end-use industries will create new opportunities in the anti-corrosion coating market.
How do we control corrosion?
Although corrosion is inevitable, its cost can be considerably reduced. The construction chemicals industry provides technologies and products for additional performance and endurance to structures, which in turn ensure a reduction in corrosion of the asset. These chemicals include, among others, surface coatings, floorings, concrete admixtures, corrosion inhibitors, grouts and sealants, repair mortars and fire - proofing. By restricting the ingress of moisture and creating a ´sealed´ surface, these materials retard the corrosion cell setup. The industry today is maturing and most projects in the country use these technologies to reduce corrosion and increase the life of the asset.
Four common methods used to control corrosion of infrastructure facilities are protective coatings and linings, cathodic protection (CP), corrosion-resistant materials, and inhibitors.
Evaluating the environment in which a structure is or will be located is important to control corrosion, no matter which method or combination of methods is used. Modifying the environment immediately surrounding a structure, such as reducing moisture or improving drainage, can be a simple and cost-effective way to reduce the potential for corrosion.
That said, CICO Technologies Ltd offers a range of anti-corrosive materials. These products are used extensively for the construction and maintenance of large infrastructure projects like bridges, flyovers and ports for their superior anti-corrosive features. Some of these are:
According to a CII estimate, the impact of corrosion on the nation's exchequer will be around Rs 2 lakh crore and at least 25 per cent of the loss can be prevented by proper management. This, however, is not achieved in 75 per cent of the cases owing to a knowledge gap - the industry does have the knowhow, but only in certain pockets. As a result, losses from corrosion in plants, machinery and equipment continue on a large scale. All stakeholders need to empower themselves to combat this problem.
The high annual cost of preventing corrosion and difficulty in predicting this outlay, owing to the varying degree of severity in practically all cases where metals and alloys are used, is a major challenge for the industry. Corrosion is costly in three ways; first, it is extremely expensive; it is extremely wasteful of natural resources at a time of increased concern over damage to the environment; and it causes considerable inconvenience to human life including fatalities. Therefore, economising on construction materials is not an option. Proper monitoring of manufacturing facilities should be conducted by competent authorities to check against manufacturers flouting norms in this regard.
Besides its direct cost in monetary terms, corrosion is a serious problem as it leads to depletion of scarce natural resources. This is evident from the fact that with rapid industrialisation there is growing competition for metal resources resulting in price increase.
What´s more, strict environmental regulations on corrosion-resistant products are an area of concern for manufacturers. Norms depend on the location of the facility where these materials are used, and it is up to participants to determine whether the systems comply with environmental regulations. The regulations are, however, leading to a gradual shift in demand from epoxy-based anti-corrosion coating (which is solvent-borne) to environmentally friendlier water-based acrylic anti-corrosion coatings.
According to the report, Anti-Corrosion Coating Market by Type (Epoxy, Polyurethane, Zinc, Alkyd, Acrylic), Technology (Solvent, Water, Powder), and End-Use (Marine, Oil & Gas, Power Generation, Industrial, Infrastructure, Automotive) - Global Trends & Forecasts to 2019, the anti-corrosion coating market is globally projected to register a CAGR of 4.5 per cent between 2014 and 2019 to reach $26,583 million. We expect the segment to register close to double-digit growth in India on the back of growth in power generation, infrastructure, automotive and transportation industries. Huge financial and other losses caused because of corrosion, demand from its end-use industries, and technological development in the industry are the major drivers for the anti-corrosion material market in India. The marine sector is also emerging as the largest end-use industry for anti-corrosion coatings owing to the government´s boost to the shipbuilding industry in India. We expect usage of advanced techniques in industries like oil and gas, and chemical processing, to boost the segment further.
The world continues to face critical challenges with regard to corrosion prevention and control, where aging equipment, new product formulations, environmental requirements, and strict budgets require corrosion control programs.
The demand for anti-corrosive material in India has witnessed growing demand in recent years because of increased activity in the industrial, infrastructure and shipbuilding sectors. We are hopeful that growing awareness about the role of construction chemicals to prevent corrosion and stricter construction norms will help cut the cost of corrosion to a great extent, besides placing this segment firmly on a sustained growth path.
About the Author:
Sukanta Mallik, Assistant Vice President, CICO Technologies Ltd, is a civil engineer with 28 years of experience. He has been associated with the company since 1996.