UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Critical Review of the Time-Dependent Performance of Polymeric Pipeline Coatings: Focus on Hydration of Epoxy-Based Coatings Zargarnezhad, Hossein; Asselin, Edouard; Wong, Dennis; Lam, C. N. Catherine


The barrier performance of organic coatings is a direct function of mass transport and long-term stability of the polymeric structure. A predictive assessment of the protective coating cannot be conducted a priori of degradation effects on transport. Epoxy-based powder coatings are an attractive class of coatings for pipelines and other structures because application processing times are low and residual stresses between polymer layers are reduced. However, water ingress into the polymeric network of these coatings is of particular interest due to associated competitive sorption and plasticization effects. This review examines common analytical techniques for identifying parameters involved in transport in wet environments and underscores the gaps in the literature for the evaluation of the long-term performance of such coating systems. Studies have shown that the extent of polymer hydration has a major impact on gas and ion permeability/selectivity. Thus, transport analyses based only on micropore filling (i.e., adsorption) by water molecules are inadequate. Combinatorial entropy of the glassy epoxy and water vapor mixture not only affects the mechanism of membrane plasticization, but also changes the sorption kinetics of gas permeation and causes a partial gas immobility in the system. However, diffusivity, defined as the product of a kinetic mobility parameter and a concentration-dependent thermodynamic parameter, can eventually become favorable for gas transport at elevated temperatures, meaning that increasing gas pressure can decrease selectivity of the membrane for gas permeation. On the other hand, reverse osmosis membranes have shown that salt permeation is sensitive to, among other variables, water content in the polymer and a fundamental attribute in ionic diffusion is the effective size of hydrated ions. In addition, external electron sources—e.g., cathodic protection potentials for pipeline structures—can alter the kinetics of this transport as the tendency of ions to dissociate increases due to electrostatic forces. Focusing primarily on epoxy-based powder coatings, this review demonstrates that service parameters such as humidity, temperature, and concentration of aggressive species can dynamically develop different transport mechanisms, each at the expense of others. Although multilayered coating systems decrease moisture ingress and the consequences of environmental exposure, this survey shows that demands for extreme operating conditions can pose new challenges for coating materials and sparse data on transport properties would limit analysis of the remaining life of the system. This knowledge gap impedes the prediction of the likelihood of coating and, consequently, infrastructure failures.

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