Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle) researchers have introduced a new smart coating to detect corrosion. This new smart coating can detect where corrosion is forming on metal even though one cannot see the degradation with the naked eye. The smart coating is derived from the functional nanomaterial that could be applied between a primer and topcoat and fluoresces once a corrosion product is generated from the metal.
Any metal object begins to falter as it corrodes like airplanes, cars, bridges just to name a few.
Ramanathan Lalgudi, a principal research scientist, and Barry McGraw, a program manager, both of whom work in the company’s Advanced Materials Applications Department, were working on a nanomaterial project when a new application for their work jumped out at them.
They were attaching groups of chemicals on the surface of nanomaterials and studying their effectiveness towards the environment. That led them to the idea of using the same technical approach to detect corrosion. What if the corrosion product on a material could react with the functional nanomaterials?
The end result: A true early corrosion detection method. They created a smart coating derived from the functional nanomaterial that could be applied between a primer and topcoat and fluoresces once a corrosion product is generated from the metal. In this case, the metal is aluminum, but the chemistry can be tweaked for other metals.
The Department of Defense estimates that corrosion of its equipment costs $10 to $20 billion per year. If one can repair metal before it’s demonstrably compromised, the savings could be astronomical in terms of time, energy, material and money.
Imagine this: An airline mechanic goes over the outer shell of an airplane with a hand-held device, shining it all over its surface. He sees a spot, determines it is corrosion, and he fixes it before it can do any damage.
Lalgudi said the smart coating could even be married to a primer or integrated with the scanning device. Battelle has a provisional patent for the intellectual property and though the material is two to three years away from commercialization, Lalgudi and McGraw and their business line colleagues are seeking partners to help take it to market.
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