“The moisture inside the humid indoor growing environments was causing problems on printed circuit boards. That is how our company got introduced to helping growers,” says Dan Fisher, Director of Sales Marketing at Modine Coatings. The company provides protective corrosion coatings to the HVAC industry.
“Especially along the seacoast, the combination of humidity and salinity largely contributes to corroding aluminum and copper. If equipment is not properly protected, the efficiency of your HVAC will decline, and you might even have to replace components.”
After providing corrosion coatings to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), Modine Coatings found a need to grow their services. “We expanded into having an aftermarket coatings group, now also providing corrosion coatings after the unit is built.” Due to providing a superior solution, the company was approached to develop a new innovative coating for a specific issue.
“There is a particular issue in the tropical and subtropical environments, such as in Hawaii, Florida, and South America. Those areas have a high density of geckos in the environment, and they invariably get inside air conditioning units. Walking across the circuit boards, they would fry the circuit board and themselves. We developed a conformal coating to protect the circuit boards. This protects against the “gecko invasion” and also provides protection against moisture buildup in these humid climates. Of course, a great side benefit is that we are saving the geckos!” The company also started to receive requests specifically from growers.
“The coatings turned out to be very popular for indoor growing environments, as HVAC equipment sits in the same humid environments that were causing problems on the circuit boards.”
The company offers three main types of coatings. First is electro-deposition coating, also called factory E-coating. “An OEM typically sends their heat exchangers to one of our four global factories. We coat them and send them back to the OEM factory to be used in new equipment construction. This is the best option, as it is in a factory and the process is highly engineered and controlled. The second is our aftermarket option. These are spray coatings that are applied onto metal surfaces (coils & cabinets) to protect against corrosion. This is a manual process that is not as controlled as our factory option. However, a 15-year track record and extensive corrosion testing show that this option still provides an excellent coating that protects the copper and aluminum surfaces from corrosion. Lastly, our GulfCoat™ coil coating brand of DIY Do-It-Yourself products, we have our Circuit Shield™conformal coating that protects the circuit boards specifically, to protect the electrical components and circuitry.”
So why is this protection so important for growers? Fisher explains that corrosion is caused when two dissimilar metals are beside each other. “A typical air conditioner or heat exchanger is made with copper tubing and aluminum fins. Those two metals beside each other in combination with the humidity in the grow farm, will make the metal start the galvanic corrosion process. Therefore, building a barrier to that moisture is very important.”
According to Fisher, such corrosion can have great consequences for the equipment. “Once the coils corrode, you don’t get the energy efficiency out of the unit that it was designed for. For example, the reason the heat exchanger is there is to dry out the air and cool it. But as it starts to corrode, the unit doesn’t work to its designed features, so you are wasting energy and will have to replace it sooner. That is why our products are designed primarily for new equipment. While the coatings provide much-needed protection, it is important to be aware that maintenance and cleaning will still be required to get the best advantage of the coating.”
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