Sustainable Coatings by Rational Design (SusCoRD)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

This project will, for the first time, connect a detailed scientific understanding of the mechanisms of coatings failure with state-of-the-art machine learning to deliver a design framework for the optimization of protective coatings and nanocomposite materials. It will be game changing for an industry (paint) which is often taken for granted, despite its ubiquity - the screen you are looking at, the color of your car, the protection for the aircraft you fly in, the longevity of bridges, wind turbine masts and other infrastructure. Indeed, almost all materials are made suitable for purpose or given function by the application of coatings. In the UK there are over 10,000 employees involved in manufacturing coatings and the coatings industry directly contributes over £11bn to the economy, supporting UK manufacturing and construction sectors worth around £150bn. The annual costs of corrosion damage in the UK lies in the range of 2-3% of Gross National Product (~£60 bn, 2016) and leads to premature loss of amenity in infrastructure and equipment; hence to environmental damage through accelerated extraction and resource use. Protective organic coatings (i.e. paints) are highly cost effective in limiting early materials damage due to corrosion however these are complex products where the underlying mechanistic links between the formulation and performance are lacking. The increasing need to use environmentally sustainable materials, reduce time-to-market and increase performance requires detailed mechanistic understanding across functions and length scales from the molecular to the macroscopic.

With brands such as Dulux, Hammerite and International, AkzoNobel are one of the world's largest manufacturers of protective and decorative coatings and have extensive manufacturing and research operations in the UK. AkzoNobel invests heavily in research, both in its global research hub for performance coatings in the NE of England as well as in UK universities. In particular the company (and its predecessor bodies) has collaborated in polymer science with the University of Sheffield, and in corrosion protection with The University of Manchester, for over 30 years.

This prosperity partnership between EPSRC and AkzoNobel/ International Paint with the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield, will enable for the 1st time, a fundamental mechanistic understanding of how the performance of protective organic coatings arises - essentially it will tell us "how paint works". The scope of the program is well beyond the capacity of an individual company, institution or funder and, hence, the collaborative partnership is essential in order to tackle this problem head-on. Success will allow industry to side-step the current trial-and-error approaches and to incorporate digital design (i.e. Industry 4.0) into the development of paints and similar nanocomposite materials resulting in the confidence to utilize sustainable materials, comply with legislative and customer drivers and maintain and extend performance in more extreme environments. Overall the project will deliver understanding and tools that underpin the rapid-to-market development of environmentally sustainable protective organic coatings and nanocomposites by rational design.

Planned Impact

This research proposal delivers a close partnership between AkzoNobel (AN) and the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield significantly strengthening existing collaborative ties in the area of protective organic coatings. The project will deliver a game-changing paradigm shift for a generally fragmented industry that does not individually have the capacity or scope to tackle the problem in depth. It brings an "Industry 4.0" approach to a sector that is largely craft-based and thus will have significant impact not just for the project partners, but also the supply chain for coatings formulation, for end-users of protective coatings and for other coatings suppliers. The advantages gained in achieving a predictable performance for coatings reduces costly laboratory and field testing, reduces premature failure and associated warranty claims, offers tailored products for specific markets and, importantly, offers increased service performance/longevity with a reduced environmental impact. Since protective coatings are ubiquitous the overall impact is potentially huge across almost all industry sectors: i.e. marine, construction, automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, etc.

AkzoNobel is proud to have a track record of an active and wide dissemination of research results and all researchers and collaborators are encouraged to publish in the highest quality journals and present at international conferences such as NACE, CoSI, ECS, Eurocorr, as well as national events such as UK Electrochem and the UK Corrosion Science Symposium. AkzoNobel will also sponsor the next meetings of the international conference series "Advances in Corrosion Protection of Organic Coatings" and "Formulating Function Films and Coatings" in order to both showcase and benchmark its results with the wider academic and industry community.

The AkzoNobel Corrosion Community of Practice (CCoP) - around 20 members from key business units in 4 continents - operates regular workshops with invited audiences (from AkzoNobel, other companies and academia) on topical subjects and these will be opened up to researchers from this project in order to promote active discussion and dissemination directly into AN's business units, its supply chain and its end-users.

The collaborative nature of the program will allow individual researchers, academic supervisors and industrial mentors to enhance their skills, merging their capabilities from their own training or discipline with skills from outside their current experience. This will upskill the current in-house AkzoNobel technologists while training a new generation of young people in a complex, often neglected, but important, discipline.

The involvement of AkzoNobel's supply chain, academic colleagues from other institutions, together with the Sir Henry Royce Institute (SHRI) in the external advisory panel of this program provides an obvious pathway to wider impact. In particular this program will be core to the coatings initiative identified by SHRI as a key technology enabler.

Finally, since everyone knows what paint is (but few have any idea what it really comprises) we will undertake focused public engagement activities that will include a short film with high production values, as well as school and community based projects supported by Manchester and Sheffield Universities including the "Festival of the Mind", the "Mobile University" and the "Standing up for Science" platforms. We will also seek to engage with the Nuffield Research Placement scheme to bring 6th formers into university research environments.

Publications

10 25 50

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Kopec M (2020) Chromate ion transport in epoxy films: Influence of BaSO4 particles in Progress in Organic Coatings

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Morsch S (2020) Examining the early stages of thermal oxidative degradation in epoxy-amine resins in Polymer Degradation and Stability

 
Title Pop-Up University Virtual Reality exhibition September 2019 
Description Take a trip through the fantastic world of light with two virtual reality (VR) artworks developed by artist Paul Evans in collaboration with HumanVR and researchers from the Department of Physics, Dr Andrew Parnell and Professor Richard Jones. Explore a mind-bending virtual colour environment and interact with spinning neutrons and photonic structures. The VR will help to understand how functional coatings can help to provide amazing optoelectronic properties. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact This exhibition was seen by ~ 4000 people from all age groups and has helped to raise the profile of our work looking at functional coatings. 
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.862151!/file/POP-UPuniversity.pdf
 
Description We have initiated a strategic research partnership with the group of Prof. Hermen Terryn at Vrije Universiteit Brussel which will expand our access to advanced surface analytical tools. We are also developing additional links with other groups in Netherlands and Australia.

We have been struggling to obtain sufficient good quality data on paint testing to run through our data analytics/machine learning package. However, we now have a better idea about the type and forms of data that will be needed and will be generating new test data sets to accommodate any potential deficiency.
Exploitation Route It is intended to generate a suite of tools that will aid in the formulation of corrosion protective coatings. These will be disseminated both by academic and by non-academic/industrial routes.

We are initiating a dissemination route based on social media channels over the next year
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Education,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Chromate-free primer performance
Amount £282,600 (GBP)
Organisation Airbus Group 
Sector Academic/University
Country France
Start 12/2019 
End 03/2022
 
Description AkzoNobel - University of Manchester Corrosion Protection Partnership 
Organisation AkzoNobel
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Development and direction of fundamental scientific research strategy in corrosion protection looking ahead over a 5 year period; bi-annual engagement with world-wide AkzoNobel corrosion community to showcase research and receive feedback; development of a number of showcasing activities including International Conference held in Cambridge; tactical responses to specific issues in RD&I particularly relating to product failures and final stage product performance validation; technical and consultancy advice as needed
Collaborator Contribution Financial support for Chair, 3 PDRAs and 8 PhD students; technical support to students and researchers; close interaction with business units in UK, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands; bringing science-based, mechanistic and fundamental knowledge of corrosion protection technologies to the company to assist in formulation of novel products; respond to legislative changes for materials content and to create agility in formulation and performance testing of new and existing products; hosting university researchers at business units; close embedding of university researchers into RD&I teams in the businesses.
Impact 15 publications cited 42 times since 2014 Multidisciplinary: polymer science, electrochemistry (corrosion science), metallurgy, surface engineering
Start Year 2013
 
Description Brussels / Manchester Exchange Symposium 
Organisation Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Discussed methodology of techniques
Collaborator Contribution discussed methodology of techniques
Impact Better understanding of sample preparation and NANO IR, improved technqiues for research on microscopes.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Sheffield Airbus new coatings for photo elasticity 
Organisation Airbus Group
Department Airbus Operations
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The project is to assess the design of novel coatings to asses the mechanics of airframes using photo-elasticity. This uses Sheffields polymer expertise as well as the strengths in materials characterisation and industrial development.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators have a large potential market for such materials and they would be the users of any potential products that could be commercialised.
Impact The work is still at an early stage, so there are no outputs to report yet apart from a scoping of some potential new materials which is not currently in the public domain.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Being queer in academia, defying expectations, Panel discussion (Nottingham) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Outreach and awareness
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Chief Scientisit visiting UoM (Tanabe) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit from member of international committee with the aim of expanding links with international markets
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Corrosion Education article for Corrosion Management (magazine) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The corrosion & Protection Centre at the University of Manchester wrote an article about Corrosion Education for Corrosion Management, to further publicise corrosion science, our online course and the department.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.icorr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CORROSION_MANAGEMENT_Issue150_LowRes.pdf
 
Description Creation of online course in corrosion engineering 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Online course, 250 reached in engagement, aim to keep running, generates interest in corrosion science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.coursera.org/learn/corrosion
 
Description Evening Talk with Dr Andrew Parnell: Few Have Reached the First Level of Science - Wonder 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This interactive workshop features a talk concerning the impact of John Ruskin on Science/Art.
This was followed by the opportunity to experiment with artists' pigments and observe biological specimens through the lens of a microscope.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/whats-on/events/2019/8/evening-talk-with-dr-andrew-parnell-few-...
 
Description Presented poster at the Daphne Jackson conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Presented at conference, awareness of scheme for returning into research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Rawmarch Academy schools visit to Sheffield Physics January 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The day was structured to give year 10 students a flavour of the physics behind functional coatings and how we can use thin coating materials to do amazing things.

The visit also involved artistic events to break down barriers between the researchers/academics and the schoolchildren, this helps to speak to one another in a more two way conversation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://twitter.com/RichardALJones/status/1220692433480179714
 
Description Talk at UoM celebrating international women`s day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Gving a talk as a woman in Science - sharing accomplishments in research and interests outside of research!
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description member of IOM3 Corrosion group committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact N/A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019