The Silicon Review
Our experience in working with our carbon nanotechnology platform has shown the versatility and breadth unknown to the coatings industry: Todd Hawkins
Anything made from iron or steel is a prime target for the destructive forces of corrosion. It occurs due to a chemical reaction between moisture, the surrounding atmosphere and the atoms that comprise a metal substance. Corrosion is a serious problem, if unchecked, can literally pulverize metals over time. NACE International corrosion Impact study estimates the global cost of corrosion to be US$2.5 trillion, equivalent to roughly 3.4% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tesla NanoCoatings Inc. is a protective coating (paint) formulating company. Tesla NanoCoatings manufactures Teslan® Carbon NanoCoating in a 2-coat system that replaces a traditional 3-coat system used extensively for corrosion protection of steel. Tesla’s coating uses carbon nanotubes which self-assemble into rope structures, making them highly conductive, tough and flexible.
The company was incorporated in 2012 and is headquartered in Massillon, Ohio.
Rewind: Getting off the Ground
Tesla NanoCoatings Inc. was founded as the brainchild of an entrepreneur trained in petroleum engineering and geology who dreamed of winning the ages-old war against metal corrosion. A never say never man, today Tesla NanoCoatings Founder, President and CEO Todd Hawkins is driving the effort to bring Teslan® to the rescue for all who fight the costly battles against steel corrosion in the oil and gas, military, transportation, bridges and highways, construction and other critical applications.
Todd Hawkins, Tesla NanoCoatings, Inc, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
How did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Tesla NanoCoatings employs carbon nanotechnology to radically change the world of corrosion.
Our disruptive, carbon nanotechnology was such a new concept for fighting corrosion that our technology went through years of testing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several global oil companies to ensure that this new carbon nanotechnology could truly reduce corrosion which is costly and very harmful to the environment.
Once our carbon nanotechnology was proven and successful in years of testing, we have been able to refine our carbon nanotechnology platform to address very specific corrosion issues. Our carbon nanotechnology platform is incredibly robust. It has allowed us to secure 20 patents with more than a dozen pending.
How does Tesla NanoCoatings Inc stand out from the competition?
Tesla NanoCoatings carbon nanotechnology platform is incredibly versatile. When confronted with highly corrosion problems, we can make refinements to our carbon technology, which are targeted to a specific customer’s corrosion issues. This is unheard of in the world of coatings.
Our experience in working with our carbon nanotechnology platform has shown the versatility and breadth unknown to the coatings industry.
Our first project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applied our carbon nanotechnology coatings to fuel tanks and pipelines on Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2008 and water tower and bridges at Fort Lewis, Washington in 2010. Recent inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed that the coatings are performing very well and the paint jobs look like they were applied recently not 10 years ago.
The current process used by most companies for protecting a steel substrate is a 4-coat process – a primer, stripe coat, midcoat and topcoat. The process requires three days minimum to complete.
Tesla NanoCoatings developed 2x1 Wet Edge Technology which allows the topcoat to be applied 30-45 minutes after the primer has been applied. A 2-coat process; a primer and topcoat which can be applied simultaneously in a single day and single visit, hence reducing installation costs by at least 30 percent. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineering testing has demonstrated the Tesla NanoCoatings 2-coat process will last twice as long as all 3-coat processes now on the market.
In addition to sizeable maintenance savings, the life of assets painted with Tesla NanoCoatings paints will be greatly extended which is very beneficial as the country rebuilds its infrastructure.
In the development of this carbon nanotechnology technology, has your company received any awards or recognition for this technology?
Tesla NanoCoatings has received a number of awards for its technology. The two most noteworthy are in 2011 R&D Magazine’s Top 100 Award recognized our carbon nanotechnology as one of the most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace that year.
Last year, CNBC with its Upstart 25 created its first-ever list of promising young start-ups which featured a diverse group of companies that are building brands and breaking industry barriers on the path to becoming tomorrow’s household names. Tesla NanoCoatings was ranked 15th on CNBC’s global list of Upstart 25 companies.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
Our carbon nanotechnology was so different there was considerable apprehension about its legitimacy. Everyone knew that the current paints were not solving the current corrosion problems. A number of major oil companies understood that carbon nanotechnology could solve the corrosion problem. Subsequently, there was considerable interest, but our claims had to be supported by extensive testing. We partnered with Saudi Aramco and other oil & gas super majors submitting our coatings to the industry’s most stringent testing, in some cases making the test more difficult than required. Our coatings excelled.
The learning for our peers is three-fold:
“Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through a consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?
Our carbon nanotube coatings are recognized all over the world as the best technology for preventing corrosion. We constantly receive requests from Europe, Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
Trust is critical to our success. Our customers are using technology that they have never used before. Therefore, we work closely with them to ensure they understand our technology. The application of our carbon nanotechnology yields results that are 40 to 50 percent better than the current paints in use.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
Tesla NanoCoatings will continue to grow exponentially over the next five years. Adoption by the lead users in the oil and gas industry, Saudi Aramco in the Persian Gulf, additional companies in the Gulf of Mexico combined with diffusion into other major markets and anticipated new product offerings will fuel this growth.
Tesla NanoCoatings, Inc Leadership: A Brief Background
Todd Hawkins: Todd Hawkins is a petroleum engineer and geologist. With an innovative vision and entrepreneurial spirit, he founded Tesla NanoCoatings. Along with the best scientific minds in nanotechnology, Mr. Hawkins has perfected the Teslan® Carbon NanoCoating formula. Previously, he was chief development officer at Midwest Industrial Supply and held positions at Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems. Mr. Hawkins earned an MBA from the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University and a BS in Petroleum Engineering and Geology from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.
Dr. Jorma Virtanen: Dr. Jorma Virtanen, Tesla’s chief nanoscientist, is one of the leadingscientific minds in the fields of carbon nanotechnology and biophysics. A world-renowned researcher and chemist, Dr. Virtanen played an integral part in the development of the patented corrosion-resistant Teslan coating formula. He holds a B.S. in Chemistry, an M.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics, and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki.
“Our carbon nanotechnology platform is incredibly versatile. When confronted with highly corrosion problems, we can make refinements to our carbon technology, which are targeted to a specific customer’s corrosion issues. This is unheard of in the world of coatings.”