STX France SA: Large-Scale Tanker Insulation

During the years 2004-2006, the world's largest liquid gas tankers at the time - "Provalys", Gaselys" and their smaller sister ship "Energy"- were built in the famous docks of tradition-rich shipyard "Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique" in St. Nazaire, France. Before their completion, an extremely laborious insulation process took place inside the ships’ hulls. Eventually the deployment of Openair® plasma technology made an essential contribution for completing the hulls’ insulation layer toward a successful realization of the overall project.


To insulate the tankers, a new insulation technique was to be employed that would provide an increase of the tanker's holding capacity by 8000m³. To reach this target a 100% tightness warranty on the bonding of the new insulation composite panels mounted directly on the inner walls of the ship had to be achieved. Neither chemical processes nor flame treatment of the surfaces could claim the desired success. It was only with the use of the Openair® plasma technique that all environmental, safety and efficiency requirements were finally met.
The final solution provided for a large-area use of 20 robot-controlled plasma systems which, thanks to the "cold plasma", worked directly, on site, on the lining of the tank chambers. Any risk of overheating was eliminated. The decisive factor for pre-treatment was first, the destruction of all organic substances on the polymer surface of the sealing tapes to be bonded, and secondly the strong activation of the plastic material in preparation of the subsequent bonding process with a 2C epoxy adhesive. In the end the Openair plasma systems cleaned and activated a combined surface of 12,000 sq.m. per tanker.


Openair® plasma offers the user the following values:

  • One single pretreatment method for bonding the insulation composite panels in conformity with the environmental, safety and efficiency requirements
  • 100% tightness of the tanker insulation

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