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Sunday, 22 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies, Functional coatings

Non-toxic coating to replace chromate-based system

Monday, 29 October 2012

US scientists have developed a new self-healing coating for aluminium, replacing chromate coatings used in the aerospace industry.

A new non-toxic coating has been developed for corrosion protection of aluminium used in aerospace applications

Source: DWP/ Fotolia

A new non-toxic coating has been developed for corrosion protection of aluminium used in aerospace applications

Source: DWP/ Fotolia

A new environmentally-friendly coating for aluminum is supposed to replace the carcinogenic chromate coatings used in aerospace applications. It has been developed by a research team at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA. Chromate conversion coatings have been used for more than 50 years to protect aluminum from corrosion.

According to Dev Chidambaram, lead scientist and assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Nevada, there is no question that the new development will be able to replace the chromate-based coating. "Even though the coating formulation is yet to be optimized, the coating has shown exceptional performance," he said.

Replacement attempts since the 1980s

Attempts to replace chromate coatings with non-toxic coatings have been underway since the 1980s. Although the use of chromates for consumer and automotive applications has been banned, it is still in use by the defense and aerospace industries under various exemptions.

The carcinogenic coatings were exempted from the ban due to unavailability of suitable replacement combined with the high human and financial cost of failure from corrosion. The search for a suitable replacement has been elusive primarily due to one main characteristic of the coating referred to as "self-healing", the ability of the coating to heal itself after being damaged or scratched.

Self-healing performance comparable to chromate formula

Chidambaram's formulation performs comparably to the chromate formula in its ability for self-healing, which is important to the defense and aerospace industry. The coating can be applied to all aluminum products. The new formula creates an environmentally-benign molybdate-based coating that provides corrosion protection to aluminum, used for aircraft and spacecraft. These coatings, when damaged, will re-heal themselves.

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