12 March 2024

Preventing corrosion with STOPAQ. A Q&A on everything you wanted to know.

In this STOPAQ podcast series, Dinko Cudic, Business Line Director at Seal For Life Industries tackles the most asked questions about their visco-elastic technology STOPAQ.

This first episode will handle the basics: what is STOPAQ and how is it different from conventional coatings?

Listen to the STOPAQ podcast here:

Or you can read the transcript below:

[00:00:03] Preventing corrosion with STOPAQ. A Q&A on everything you wanted to know.

[00:00:11] Hi everyone, my name is Dinko Cudic. I work for Seal for Life and I’m the business line director of our Visco-elastic Technologies. We have quite a few brands in the portfolio and today we’ll be answering questions on STOPAQ, which is our longest-lasting technology over 25 years already. Still, today, there are a lot of questions that arise and we will see if we can cover as many as we can.

What is STOPAQ?

[00:00:46] Well, one of the key questions that we get is what is STOPAQ? In fact, I think it’s important to cover the name STOPAQ because it kind of tells you the story, but also how we approach the whole corrosion prevention, a little bit different than the usual corrosion preventative solutions. The reason is that STOPAQ means Stop Aqua and it derives from our first business, which was waterproofing and sealing. So keeping water away, and therefore stopping oxygen and water and therefore stopping corrosion.

What is the technology behind STOPAQ?

The technology in general is referred to as visco-elastic. And of course, viscoelasticity is just a behaviour. One of the polymers that we use is polyisobutene, which we will frequently see and market. The reason behind that is that it is the polymer polyisobutene that creates an impermeable barrier to oxygen and water and therefore stops the corrosion. And once again, you know, looking at it from the perspective of waterproofing and sealing, we encapsulate the assets, pipes for example, from the environment. And that’s how we prevent corrosion from ever forming.

Why do you compare STOPAQ with honey?

[00:02:18] Sometimes we do refer to polyisobutene as honey, and the reason behind it is it best describes the adhesion mechanism. The adhesion mechanism is very different from normal coatings which need for example, an interlocking way of adhesion. That means it needs a roughness for the adhesion to happen. Polyisobutene gives us more of a honey feel where when you touch it, you have immediate adhesion, which means if you put polyisobutene-based coatings, which is what STOPAQ is, you will have an immediate adhesion to the surface and therefore the corrosion prevention. The comparison with honey goes beyond just tackiness. Of course. It also covers the part where the product does not dry over time, it does not crystallize, it does not cross-link, which means you always have this fluid-like behavior of the products. That means that if the product doesn’t age or dry over time, it will not crack and allow oxygen and water to go through. It will not dry out in the sense that it will lose adhesion over time. So you will always have this constant flow over the surface that will further protect against corrosion.

What does ‘visco-elastic coating’ mean?

[00:03:51] Visco elastic coatings is a term, most frequently used, but viscoelasticity is purely a behaviour of a certain polymer. The biggest difference between viscoelastic coatings is, of course, what polymer do you use? Some will use butyl rubbers. Some will use polyisobutene like we do for STOPAQ. Some will use blends of the materials. These are all the big differences that happen. But also the big difference is that makes a distinction between the coatings. So just because they have similar behaviors, it does not mean they are equal coatings. As a comparison, perhaps in the classic coating world, is there a difference between polyurethane coatings or epoxy coatings? Of course, there is. And the same way it is within the viscoelastic world. It’s almost like saying just a coating with
a certain behaviour. But it doesn’t specifically say what is the polymer used to actually prevent corrosion. So you can have a viscoelastic coating without PIB, and those as an adhesive have been used for decades. Mostly you will find them as a backing on top of shrinkable backings, which is also in the industry of shrinkable sleeves. You will find them also as an adhesive viscoelastic adhesive layer on polyethylene-backed tapes. So yes, it is not a common word. It’s just the permanent viscoelasticity, permanent adhesion and permanent corrosion prevention that can only be achieved by a few polymers. And our polymer of choice was, of course, polyisobutene.

How is STOPAQ different from conventional coatings?

[00:05:43] The biggest difference between STOPAQ and conventional coatings is, of course, the adhesion mechanism. And also does it cure over time? Most of the coatings that we know come in liquid form. The reason is you want the liquid to penetrate the pores of the steel, but then eventually they dry out. And if you don’t have a good interlocking mechanism, they can crack and flake off, especially if the roughness of the surface is not sufficient. Because STOPAQ is a coating that does not cure over time, you get the wetting continuously and forever. And because the product does not crystallize or cross-link over time, but is also a very pure product, then that gives you life and age, where you can outlast the classic corrosion prevention systems. It is mostly unique because, the other coatings do need, surface preparation. Mainly they need surface preparation, not just for the cleanliness, but surface preparation actually gives you roughness, and roughness gives you adhesion. So primarily it’s the adhesion mechanism that makes the biggest difference.

What is meant by ‘permanent’ corrosion prevention solution?

[00:07:07] When we say permanent corrosion prevention solutions, we look at how long we protect the asset compared to, of course, other ways. There are thousands of ways how to prevent corrosion. It can be purely with oils, with waxes, and corrosion protection or prevention can be set based on the client’s needs. So it can be a week or two weeks as short term. It can be 25 years as, let’s say, midterm. And our way, our target was to develop a coating that could outlast a minimum 30 years with, of course, a design life of 60 years. Because what we see is, in the industry that, especially with the sustainability part, we want the coating to last as long as possible so we don’t have to go back and maintain it. And again, going back to the polymers, it is the selection of polymers that allow us and give us the opportunity to have non-aging benefits from the actual polymer. When it comes to aging, what is the difference between 30 years or 60 years and how do we predict it? There are very few ways of how a polymer can be, or a product can be predicted. We base a lot of our predictions on the birth of Polyisobutene, which was developed in 1940s. So we do have track records that the polymer itself has not changed or aged over time. And we when we make STOPAQ, of course, with all the ingredients that go in into the product, we make sure that we do not change the performance of Polyisobutene as such and therefore can retain the equal track records that we see from the non-aging product. So minimum 30, we say, because that’s the minimum lifetime that we can predict of the product. But when we say 60, well that is the design life and our target that we wish to achieve. And based on all the track records of polyisobutene we don’t see why it’s not achievable.