Zircotec is a spin-out from the Nuclear Industry in the UK. We were originally operating as part of the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, providing a range of specialist plasma-sprayed coatings for thermal barrier and surface engineering applications in the nuclear industry. This plasma-spray technology continued to be developed by Zircotec and its applications broadened. The knowledge of our work spread and found ourselves supplying for a range of commercial applications across several industries, including the motorsport and automotive sectors. With our location being in the “motorsport valley”, many of the leading motorsport teams were near neighbours, including may of the worlds F1 teams and World Rally teams, and there was an obvious synergy, given the amount of heat generated in and around the engine and brakes of a racing car. Many of the F1 cars of the 80’s and 90’s made use of an early version of our ThermoHold® based Performance White™ coating on their exhaust manifold and collector, and this coating can still be seen on historic F1 cars. The same coating can also be found on many of the Subaru World Rally cars of that era. We have of course continued to develop our coatings to further improved their thermal performance and create the robust coating we offer today.
Although we have remained prominent in the automotive and motorsport sectors, we have expanded our work across several other industries including railway, aerospace, marine, space, oil & gas, defence, and of course, nuclear as well.
Zircotec’s plasma-applied specialist ceramic coatings are present across a broad range of industries, typically issues arise from being exposed to extreme environment such as extremely high temperatures, harsh chemicals, high mechanical stress, environments accelerating corrosion significantly, etc. Sometimes, it is as simple as aesthetic upgrade.
Example Project 1: Oil & Gas
Offshore environments, high temperatures and exposure to sour gases act to significantly increase corrosion, therefore making combatting of corrosion hugely important across the oil and gas industry. When coupled with accessibility challenges and the drive to minimise shutdown periods, coatings which can reduce or eliminate corrosion can provide significant cost benefits. Zircotec’s thermal barrier coatings are well-known for their anti-corrosion properties and have found a large array of applications within this industry, such as within gas flaring and downstream refinery processes. Zircotec produces coatings suitable for many different engineering materials, including many steels, stainless steels and superalloys commonly used within the industry (e.g. Stainless 310, Inconel 625 & 718). The use of a corrosion-resistant coating also permits the use of less expensive alloys in the first instance, offering both reduced up-front costs and less ongoing maintenance concerns.
Example Project 2: Chemical Engineering
In certain engineering projects, research engineers reach out to us as their projects require specific properties for use. A recent project required a coating that would protect mild steel components from a harsh corrosive environment whilst being exposed to constant and repetitive abrasive stresses. We offered our specialist Diamond Black™ coating which is designed to be exceptionally hard wearing and highly resistant to multiple forms of mechanical damage. The coating is inherently deep blue/black without any aesthetic top-coat require and provides a protective barrier for the mild steel substrate from exposure to corrosive environments.