A quiet little company based in Auburn, Ovante LLC, recently passed a major test that puts it in position to sell its patented anti-corrosion product to major utility customers.
In something like a Super Bowl of anti-rust, the Electric Power Research Institute — the standard setter for electric utilities — in a study funded by Duke Energy, tested seven products for their potential to protect power transmission towers from corrosion for up to 50 years. It represents a quantum leap in durability, compared to current protection of 15 to 20 years.
The contestants were weeded down to a playoff between three companies, and EPRI eliminated one and announced a tie between a final two — little Ovante, with three manager employees, with a product called Storm Greeter, and chemical giant Dupont, with a Teflon product.
Designed to test for 1,200 hours of UV light, salt spray and immersion, “The testing performed by the Electric Power Research Institute was ‘accelerated life testing,’” explains Jon Brasher, president and CTO of Ovante. “The various testing chambers are made so that one hour of abuse hurled at the samples inside them is equivalent to one year in the real world.”
One of the areas in which Ovante excelled over all the others was field repair and maintenance. “None of the other coatings have that capability,” says Brasher. “In the playoff between us and Teflon, the Teflon coating required six applications to achieve a 20 mil thick coating. We achieved 50 mils in one application.
“One of our next steps is to schedule a demonstration with Osmose, one of the largest utility maintenance companies in the nation. We can save them days, not just hours, of maintenance time per structure, with a much better product.”
Brasher says his research and product development company has access to seven coating facilities for the work it’s currently doing. The company was issued a second patent on March 31, and there are three more pending. He says Ovante is now looking for more research space and staff.
Brasher is also a field and media research coordinator in the Auburn University School of Agriculture’s division of Crop, Soil and Environment Sciences. He earned an MBA at Auburn in 1987.
Business Alabama featured Brasher and Ovante, “Rust Buster with Big Potential,” in our November, 2017 issue.