Atmospheric Plasma Solutions won the 2019 CTMA Technology Competition, which included $50K toward a CTMA project with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Now that the year-long project is concluding, there is great optimism about the future of the PlasmaBlast® technology transitioning into the DOD and some lessons learned.
Atmospheric Plasma Coating Removal (APCR) is a breakthrough de-painting technology that does not require media, requires no containment and no damage to the substrate. Using only air and electricity the PlasmaBlast system converts a significant portion of the removed organic coating into water vapor and carbon dioxide, leaving behind a lower volume of solids of mostly inorganic pigments and fillers that can be safely collected with a suitable HEPA vacuum virtually eliminating the need for containment.
On Atmospheric Plasma Solution’s second trip to Norfolk, they were able to conduct two training sessions where they certified six mechanics to operate the Plasma Blast technology.
“Norfolk Naval Shipyard has unique needs and we were able to identify use cases where our technology could be used, such as small and tight spaces and was found to be capable of removing saltwater on difficult surfaces such as around bolts, inside cracks and narrow corners reducing corrosion,” says Arthur Wood, Applications Research Scientist at Atmospheric Plasma Solutions.
The incumbent technology utilizes a needle gun and sandblasting to remove coatings. This activity can be time consuming, extremely noisy, and dangerous. In testing the PlasmaBlast technology users found it was 50% faster, reduced noise 100%, and was less impactful to the substrate material.
“Repetitive type maintenance tasks are the number one cause of workers compensation claims and injury,” says Glenn Astolfi, president, and CEO of Atmospheric Plasma Solutions. “When maintainers were able to test it, they were thrilled saying ‘why didn’t we have this in the first place!’ Using this technology will help get our ships back out to sea faster. That’s why we got into this business.”
The engineering staff at Norfolk is excited about the PlasmaBlast, which will soon go through further testing such as fatigue performance and other Navy standard tests. The lightweight and portability of the technology means it can easily go to where it needs to be deployed making maintenance and sustainment activities more productive.
“The fact that we have a project directly with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard demonstrates the value of CTMA projects. We knew we had great technology, but this initiative enabled us to talk with the engineers and program managers and get answers. That doesn’t normally happen with small and medium–sized companies like ours,” says Astolfi.