In weather testing, South Florida is considered a benchmark climate for its unique balance of ultraviolet (UV) light intensity, high temperatures and year-round humidity. “This classic subtropical environment is home to multi-acre test sites that evaluate scores of products,” according to mechanical engineer Nick D’Alto in an article forWeatherwise magazine. “Hot sun can fade paint or upholstery, humidity and rain can rust metal, and salt water can corrode many materials,” he explained.

In this challenging coastal environment, advanced fluoropolymer coating systems have passed the real-world test on elevated water storage tanks, such as the 1-million gallon torospherical-bottom steel tank in Hollywood, FL, which was voted the 2011 Tnemec Tank of the Year. Constructed in 1955, the multi-column tank is the first legged design named Tank of the Year since Tnemec initiated the competition in 2006.

Located along South Florida’s heavily traveled Interstate 95, the tank features a colorful mural of sea turtles, which was painted by Utility Service Co., Inc. “Everybody was just amazed at how the finished product looked like the concept drawings,” Curt Dimsdale, Project Engineer with Utility Service, acknowledged. “The tank looks literally just like the design concept.”

Assisting Utility Service on the project was Jim Kelly of Industrial Commercial Signs, who painted the mural and lettering, and an electrical contractor who lighted the tank’s exterior. “The lighting system goes all the way around the balcony and the base of the tower,” Dimsdale noted. “The city’s intent was for the tank to be a showpiece for the local community because of its high visibility.”

The City of Hollywood has a strong connection to sea turtles, which return by the thousands to area beaches each year to lay their eggs at night. In Broward County, nearly 2,000 sea turtle nests have been counted during nesting season from March to October.

A total of 19 colors were required for the mural, ranging from tank white, to different shades of blues, seafoam greens and browns, according to Tnemec Coating Consultant Mike Kendig of Florida Protective Coatings Consultants, Inc. “The coatings were chosen on the basis of high performance, resistance to ultraviolet light, as well as the color and gloss retention of the coating system without the use of a clearcoat,” Kendig explained.

The project specified an exterior finish coat of Series 700 HydroFlon, an advanced fluoropolymer, which is recommended for water tanks in coastal environments and structures that seek extremely long-term service life. All of the tanks selected as runners-up in this year’s Tank of the Year competition also received HydroFlon coating systems.

HydroFlon coating systems conform to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) D102 Outside Coating System No. 4 (OCS-4) by exceeding the weathering requirements of American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 2604. According to the AAMA specification, “Weathering tests evaluate color retention, chalk resistance, gloss retention and resistance to erosion after mandatory extended outdoor test exposure in the South Florida environment.”

 “Fluoropolymer coating systems eliminate the need for a clear coat, which saves labor costs,” explained Doug Hansen, Director, Tnemec Water Tank Market. “These systems also extend the maintenance cycle of water tanks well beyond the service life offered by traditional coatings, while enhancing the imaginative designs and color schemes that we’re seeing on water tanks all across the country.”

In addition to the Tank of the Year, four runners-up were selected from more than 140 entries. “Each of these projects is unique for their memorable graphic designs, which made a lasting impression on our Tank of the Year judges and on their communities,” Hansen added. The four runners-up listed alphabetically are:

• The 1-million gallon spheroid tank featuring an elaborate mural design and logo for Oak Lawn, IL. “Fifteen different colors of Series V700 Low VOC HydroFlon were used to create the streetscape mural,” according to Coating Consultant Erik Otten of Taylor Coating Sales. “Series V700 was specified to comply with current VOC regulations in Illinois.”

• A 250,000-gallon spheroid tank in St. Robert, MO, designed with tiger stripes in recognition of the Waynesville High School mascot. “What really makes this project unique is the fact that the artwork was designed by Steve Long, the director of public works for St. Robert,” Coating Consultant Scott Keilbey of Midwest Coating Consultants, Inc., explained. “Long and the City of St. Robert were thrilled with the quality workmanship of the coating contractor, Ozark Applicators.”

• A 350,000-gallon elevated water tank with the multi-colored logo for Waunakee, WI, which features a sunset with the silhouette of prairie grass and a bird. “The tank is in a high-visibility location overlooking Ripp Park, which is home to heavily used tennis courts and soccer fields,” according to Cory Erickson of Coating Specialists, Inc. 

• The 250,000-gallon water tower designed to resemble a giant baseball near the Charlotte Knights Stadium in York County, S.C. “It’s a unique design right next to the Knights Baseball stadium and a major interstate, so it’s a highly visible tank,” Coating Consultant Nick Vause of TSE, Inc., shared.” The owner, York County, handled the engineering, so they were looking for a quality project.”

Tnemec Tank of the Year entries are judged by a committee of water tank enthusiasts based on several criteria including artistic value, significance of the tank to the surrounding community and challenges encountered during the project. The annual event has drawn media attention from local and national TV networks and print magazines. Tanks from this year’s competition will be featured in the company’s 2012 water tank wall calendar.