The Power of Starch

from “Rovings,” Professional BoatBuilder No. 154
Compiled by Dan Spurr

starch abrasiveADM

EnviroStrip wheat-starch blast media, delivered by an air-pressure system, has been employed in aerospace and other industries to clean and prepare a multitude of parts. ADM is now marketing the product to the marine sector for application on metal and composite surfaces.

Cleaning hulls and molds with pressurized abrasive media is a relatively recent development, considering that such industrial processes have been around for more than 100 years; target contaminants include grease, wax, tar, corrosion, and numerous other substances. Critical to the selection of a blast medium is the substrate. Sand may work on certain metal applications, but it can be destructive to the polyester gelcoat substrate commonly found on boat hulls.

While alternative media such as glass beads and dry ice have been found for nonmarine applications, few have delivered the desired performance in cleaning fouled hulls or reconditioning molds. Baking soda has been successful, though it is still highly dependent on operator skill, dialing in the correct pressure, holding the nozzle at the correct distance, and moving at the correct rate.

Now, Chicago-based ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) is marketing a wheat starch product called EnviroStrip, delivered by an air-pressure system. Following its introduction to aerospace and other industries, ADM now looks to explore its potential in the marine sector.

EnviroStrip is described as a “polymerized form of wheat starch” that “removes virtually every coating, from common epoxy and polyurethane paints to advanced low-observable coatings.” Suitable for use on most metal surfaces, it’s also effective on composites, including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and aramid (Kevlar) reinforcements. Related products from ADM are EnviroStrip XL corn hybrid polymer, and eStrip GPX Type VIII starch graft acrylic copolymer. Sales director Cameron Drake says EnviroStrip costs about $2.50 per pound delivered in the U.S., and can be reused about 15 times, reducing per-use-per-pound cost to just 16 cents.

Biobased Abrasive Products, ADM, Oviedo, FL 32765 USA, tel. 321–258–5994,

proboat dingbat