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New plural-component application equipment is helping the Marine Corps apply low-VOC waterborne coatings more simply than it ever thought possible.
Military bases from California to Georgia put a lot of paint on many types of battlefield equipment, from tanks and howitzers to radar and engineering equipment. Because of the increasing threat posed by chemical warfare, this equipment is coated with chemical agent resistant coatings, or CARCs. First developed in the early 1980s, CARCs became a significant source of air pollution. Since then, EPA has promulgated stricter emissions rules, and that has meant a long and demanding search for not only greener versions of the coatings but also compatible application equipment.
The going got tough, and the tough got going
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (Aberdeen, MD) developed the latest waterborne formula for the coatings, which have 1.8 pounds of VOCs or less per gallon and are HAPs-free. The new coatings, supplied by Sherwin-Williams (Buffalo, NY) and Hentzen Coatings Inc. (Milwaukee), passed rigorous Defense Department testing with flying colors more than a year ago.
But the equipment the military was using to apply the coatings was more difficult, time-consuming and wasteful than desirable. The Marine Corps took the lead in finding equipment that was more environmentally …