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Coatings from the academy

altSeeking maximum protection of materials and researching the subject of corrosion and coatings is the day to day of Enrique Vera, a professional who from the academy dedicates his life to guide science in favor of industry.

by: María Cecilia Hernández


The 45-year-old Bumangués, Enrique Vera, has been a pioneer in Colombia in the implementation of innovative techniques for the evaluation and analysis of coatings, is an initiator and participant in important projects and advances in the anticorrosive market and from the academy fervently promotes research on corrosion issues.

- Publicidad -

Currently, he is the leader of the Corrosion Group of the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia, attached to the School of Metallurgical Engineering, is also coordinator of the Master's Degree in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Sciences and leads the doctoral proposal in Engineering and Materials Science. For these and many other reasons and stories, Vera joins us as Professional of the Month in this edition of INPRA LATINA.

At the Industrial University of Santander (UIS) he entered to study Physics, that decision was clear, what he did not know was that being there would come a greater passion. Since the first research group in the country on the subject of corrosion was formed in this institution, the young student was captivated by the science of coating.

Later he studied a Master of Science, in which he carried out research on the damage of coatings caused by high voltage alternating currents. Parallel to his postgraduate degree, Enrique Vera began his working life at the Colombian Petroleum Institute (ICP), in the area of materials engineering.

Innovating in academia
"It was at the ICP, in 1991 where for the first time we began to implement new techniques to evaluate coatings. We put into practice the technique of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, a novelty in the country and activity in which we were pioneers at that time. We combined the evaluation of the coatings in wet chamber and saline chamber, with the dielectric properties that they were losing as they aged in these chambers, "recalls Vera.

Thanks to the good results obtained through numerous research and scientific practices, the physicist participated in projects of transcendental magnitude on the evaluation of coatings on an industrial scale; again the experiment became the first in Colombia, and even Ecopetrol, the first oil company in the country, served as a sponsor of the proposal that consisted of evaluating coatings from different companies to make the selection of them depending on the atmospheric conditions to which they were going to be subjected.

Export and import knowledge
After the success obtained in this process, the researcher participated in a call for High Level Human Resource Training that is executed by Colciencias "I was selected to do the doctorate in Materials Sciences at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. The topic of the research work I executed during this study was the evaluation of coatings or new coatings at the thin film level and implementation of new techniques to evaluate these types of coatings."

Upon his return to Colombia, in 1998, he joined the Corporation for Corrosion Research, in the area of cathodic and electrochemical protection. "There I had the opportunity to visit oil companies in the country, such as Petrobras, Occidental and British Petroleum. In this activity we visit and inspect tanks and pipelines with the aim of making pertinent recommendations on the selection, adequacy and use of new coatings that manage to register in a real way the inclemencies, both of the atmosphere and the terrain to which the equipment is subjected".

Leading research group
One more initiative was taken by the researcher when in 2001 he became part of the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia and while there he founded the Corrosion Group, a leading team in the country that has put into practice very innovative techniques and has enough technology for it.

- Publicidad -

This group had very positive effects in 2004 they proposed the first Training School for Painters, aimed at painting professionals and people who work with coatings, specifically in the department of Boyacá. It is an initiative with high resonance in the country, even the Seine, an academic institution of wide national recognition, is part of this dynamic.

"In this way, many students have felt motivated and have developed several undergraduate and master's theses, where coatings have been the main factor of research and many have served to link to companies in the sector," says Enrique Vera.



From the classrooms to the company
However, this research process and its results would be of no use if they do not find application in the industry. For this reason, the academy has been carrying out an awareness work to achieve an approach to the real market.

The professional assures that actions are being taken in this regard but points out that no effort should be spared to consolidate this type of alliances between the company and the academy.

"I have a strong conviction that this infrastructure and scientific and technological knowledge that exists in the university must be put at the service of industry. Currently several companies in the country seek our services, we have positive answers about the new developments that some companies have made from the research results that we have carried out from the university".

- Publicidad -

Challenges and promising future
According to Enrique Vera: "The future of the coatings industry in Colombia is very promising and I dare say that it is above other countries in Latin America and in the world, due to oil expansion. The crude oils of the Casanare basin have special characteristics: the temperature of the pipelines at surface level can reach up to 100 degrees Celsius, and when they are buried in clay soils it can rise to 120 degrees Celsius. This is where great challenges appear, we must manufacture coatings not only that can be applied cold and that resist those temperatures but also allow repairs to be made on site and online."

The physicist indicates that today several types of coatings have been tested and it has not yet been possible to find one that is effective and that meets the conditions presented by that Colombian area.

However, his energies continue to be concentrated in his professional area and he dedicates as much time as possible to his next challenge: "To develop local technologies at the national level that compete with international technologies in the field of evaluation, monitoring and selection of coatings. That every day we have greater capacity of infrastructure and human resources so that the Colombian industry is competitive and innovative hand in hand with all the knowledge we develop at the university. Our goal is to be able to equip ourselves with technology made by us, but also imported technology, to be able to export ours worldwide and develop equipment that allows companies to be innovative."

Since his university days Enrique Vera has been passionate about the world of motorcycles, the machine itself marvels, "I liked to know its mechanics, its operation, I was passionate about the high displacement. Today I keep a couple of motorcycles that I take care of with great affection, some weekends I go for a ride on them, I keep the admiration for the machine, "he says and adds that another of his passions is traveling, knowing other cultures and understanding the way others see his native country.

Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Author: Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Jefe Editorial en Latin Press, Inc,.
Comunicador Social y Periodista con experiencia de más de 16 años en medios de comunicación. Apasionado por la tecnología y por esta industria. dchaverra@latinpressinc.com

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