“Not knowing when to make that switch from an alloy to a non-metallic material, goes hand-in-hand with the need to educate the chemical processing industry,” says Todd Thomas, corrosion specialist at BASF.
BASF Corporation is a leading chemical company. As a corrosion specialist, Thomas spends his time working with non-metallic materials – namely FRP composites and dual laminates. His role within the company focuses on educating individuals within the company as well as other companies on the use of these non-metallic materials in the chemical processing industry.
Thomas is also the chair for NACE’s Nonmetallic Materials of Construction Committee. NACE is a partnering organization for the Chemical Processing Symposium (CPS) in conjunction with ACMA on November 6 & 7, in Galveston, Texas. With a focus on FRP applications in today’s chemical plants, CPS offers essential education to help engineers navigate material selection and the designs needed to meet today’s toughest corrosion challenges. On November 6, Thomas will present a case study on dual laminates and their advantages for the chemical industry.
As an engineer, you have a wide range of experience with numerous materials. When did you become a specialist in corrosion resistant materials?
I received a PhD in Chemistry and joined Ciba Geigy as process chemists. I took a lot of the processes I was developing to production and sort of took on a production engineering role. I began working with John G. Lee, retired corrosion specialist at BASF, on a few corrosion problems and found his work very interesting. So, about four or five years later when John started talking about retirement, I thought I would give it a try. When the job was posted, I applied for it!
Explain the difference between FRP and dual laminates and where each is used.
FRP is basically a combination of an organic resin and reinforcing fiber, usually a glass fiber. A dual laminate is also a FRP resin with a glass fiber reinforcement but in the dual laminate system it’s really only used as a structural component of a piece of equipment. So in that case, the dual laminate is really a thermoplastic corrosion resistant lining that is applied to the FRP structure. They are used in very similar circumstances. However, dual laminates are used in cases when FRP or an alloy is insufficient. Companies will look at the FRP first due to it being more cost effective and easier to build. If that’s not sufficient, then the dual laminate will come into consideration. For example, a combination of mineral acids and organic solids is extremely corrosive and aggressive to a lot of materials – both alloy and FRP. This is where we would frequently use dual laminates.