Ed Hall has been with Oxifree since day one and is proud of what they have achieved in the eight years of existence, and with their new operations opening in NE Scotland, Oxifree are ready for an exciting new chapter in the UK.
Article by Jolanda Heunen
What can you tell about Oxifree?
Oxifree was established in 2009 to tackle the growing issue of corrosion across many sectors of industry. We are a small company with a big mission and in our eight years we have achieved representation in over forty countries worldwide. Our core product is TM198, a thermoplastic coating for the protection of complex metal assets.
How does Oxifree assist plant managers and engineers in their daily work?
Aging plants and asset life extension are a large drain on time and resources for plant owners and operators, therefore the budgets of the plant maintenance managers and engineers are constantly under duress. The degradation to equipment and materials is always going to be par for the course, however the unplanned is impossible to budget for!
Often the plan is to deal with this in shutdowns and via scheduled maintenance but it doesn’t always work out that way. An operational failure can cause major issues, not just with production but regarding potential impacts on health, safety and the environment as well.
We want to be part of the prevention – as well as the fix – but the more we can work with plant managers and engineers to develop preventative maintenance measures, protecting assets before they degrade, the better. The upfront costs can then save so much more than when the unplanned happens.
The fact that we can work while a plant is in operation is a big advantage; it allows the operator to do more during the regular planned shutdown, or make the shutdown period shorter. We can also work in a variety of environments, from cold and dry to hot and humid, so the scope is broadened.
Who do you consider to be your competitors?
Primarily petrolatum tapes, paints, and synthetic wraps. They have their place, but few are multi taskers. Paints can chip easily – exposing the asset underneath – and require frequent reapplication. Petrolatum tapes have significant preparation requirements and need extra products for complex geometries increasing application time. Synthetic wraps can split or become damaged with impact or adverse weathers. Much of the competition has lengthy preparation requirements which means extended downtime for both preparation and application. Curing time can extend this even further, let alone the inability for ease of inspection or maintenance.
Thermoplastic coatings, such as our product TM198, can be applied in so many more situations especially to metal assets with moving parts. There is often no downtime as it can be applied to live equipment and it can withstand much harsher environments with success.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up that you can tell a little about?
We have recently been awarded services with a major global oil and gas operator which is an exciting prospect. Being approved on a scale like this opens the door globally. One of our representatives has also just won a large $1.9m contract with a major operator providing our TM198 for a two-year service period. In addition, we launched our operational services arm in the NE of Scotland. We recognise the need to support our clients, partners, and our representatives in the UK and Europe and feel that our new operations will enable us to provide a flagship for all Oxifree Service solutions.
In addition to the case study on Cygnus, are there any other case studies or application stories you would like to share with us?
We have conducted two recent case studies using NDT techniques, Cygnus and ACFM with TSC. It was important for us to highlight how adding this layer of protection to metal assets does not stop the routine inspections that need to be conducted, we wanted to show plant operators and engineers that prevention can go hand in hand with routine inspection and general operations.
All testing included coated substrate, Cygnus couplant (blue gel) and Cygnus Dive UT thickness gauge. Substrates were:
- 4mm blasted plates (Grey in colour)
- Gas Transfer pipe (Black in colour)
- Oxifree demonstration rig
Test 1: 4mm blasted steel plate coated in Oxifree coating.
Measurement was taken through 6mm of Oxifree coating. The material was then removed from the exact spot of testing to demonstrate that the Oxifree coating had no effect on the thickness of the material reading.
Test 2: Gas transfer pipe partially coated in Oxifree coating.
This test involved measuring a section of the pipework coated in Oxifree material using Cygnus Dive UT gauge, then rotating the pipe to demonstrate that the only difference in reading is due to the manufacturing process.
Test 3: Testing of Oxifree coating while submerged.
A coated plate was submerged in water and tested for thickness as in the previous tests with the same level of results recorded.
Test 4: Testing Cygnus Dive on Oxifree Demonstration test piece.
What would a completely corrosion-free industrial world look like and how can Oxifree assist in achieving this?
It would certainly be a more efficient one! The savings to both capex and opex would be substantial with less unplanned maintenance and hopefully less failures. There are a few steps in the fight against corrosion, the first being identification – some of the top trouble spots are hard to see – take CUPS (Corrosion under pipe supports) for instance. The very nature of this issue is that it is hard to spot, often until too late. There are tools that can be installed to monitor but they cost money and obviously then a fix would still need to be made.
Taking a preventative approach using Oxifree would mean the risk is removed and operators can reallocate those expenditures. This is true for the prevention of corrosion but also the mitigation of further corrosion on aging assets. Other coating technologies cannot provide this option to live pipeline as they require pipes to be lifted from the support to remove oxidization, prepare the surface and then apply the product. None of this is necessary with TM198 as we can encapsulate existing issues and actively mitigate them at the point of application. But it’s not just the cost savings, a corrosion free industrial world would remove associated failures, which in turns minimizes environmental, health and safety risk. The right solutions need to endure both harsh environments and the test of time which Oxifree can.
Does an installation need to be shut down before inspection using ultrasonic testing and how much time does the testing take?
Typically no, a shutdown would not be needed unless access to an area of testing was prohibited during live operation. One of the benefits of this method of testing is that it does not take very long to get results and they are highly accurate. The advantage for Oxifree TM198 is that it does not interfere with this testing allowing operators to monitor pipework effectively.
Can any pipe be treated with the thermoplastic coating or are there exceptions? For example regarding material, age, positioning, or environmental influences?
The big advantage of thermoplastic coatings is their suitability for so many more applications than competitor products with the ability to apply to complex geometries. Minimal surface preparation means the asset is not subjected to harsh blasting which can take its toll on aging equipment. Due to the application nature assets in difficult locations can be reached as the equipment utilises 15m hoses which can reach into confined areas and still achieve application. They are also suited to applications in extreme conditions – wet, dry, humid, abrasive.
Why NDT and Oxifree TM198?
TM198 offers the corrosion protection metal assets need. We recently conducted testing with Cygnus UT equipment and were able to determine that TM198 (when correctly applied), completely eradicated any oxygenated air and electrolyte on the surface of substrates that cause and lead to corrosion. The test also proved that the UT echo perfectly identified substrate thickness through Oxifree material, eliminating any need to remove any applied Oxifree coating in order to inspect and fully assess substrate integrity.
Oxifree recommends UT testing as an alternative for routine inspection where the material would typically be cut away and refilled. UT testing can determine wall thickness and detect defects, without damage or interruption to process equipment. This is not possible with other corrosion protection methods.
About Ed Hall
Ed is the managing director of Oxifree Global Ltd, leading the company since 2009. He obtained his BA in Business Administration and Economics and has since held roles in business finance, sales, sales management, engineering team management, and was involved in product development and manufacturing.
Ed has worked in both the USA and the UK and travelled extensively during his career so far, giving him a rounded insight into conducting business on a global scale. He is proud of the accomplishments Oxifree has achieved and believes strongly in their products, mission, and future.