The project MUST will provide new technologies based on active multi-level protective systems for future vehicle materials. “Smart” release nanocontainers will be developed and incorporated in commercial paints, lacquers and adhesive systems to prepare new products exhibiting self-healing properties. A multi-level self-healing approach will combine - in the same system - several damage prevention and reparation mechanisms, which will be activated in response to environmental conditions. The main objective of the project will cover design, development, testing and application of coated materials and adhesives used as novel multi-level protection systems for future vehicles. The new active protection systems will be based on different types of “smart” nanocontainers incorporated in polymer matrixes and adapted to the level of protection. These systems will result in a radical improvement of the long-term performance of metallic or polymer substrates.
To achieve the objectives, MUST has been configured in four main activities (WP).
WP2 is divided in 6 sub-projects (SP) where SP1 is technology-oriented, and concerns the production of nanocontainers. SP2 and SP3 are directed to basic research, and consider fundamental studies on self-healing mechanisms and development of simulation models. SP4, 5 and 6 consider exploitation, costs and upscaling of the most promising systems in automotive, aerospace and maritime sectors, respectively.
The demonstration of the technologies will be performed together with continuous risk management in WP3.
WP4 also will manage dissemination of the results and training activities and WP1 will consider the whole coordination of the project.
MUST will increase considerably the life cycle of materials and therefore boost the competitive strength of the European transport industry. The multi-level protection approach will also open opportunities for the application of new light materials (magnesium and aluminium alloys) in vehicle manufacturing.
Corrosion protection on-demand in vehicles
Novel coatings developed with EU support enable the release of healing agents in response to changes in the environment. Longer service lives and increased safety are among the expected benefits for transport vehicles.
Metallic components are widely used in the transportation sector. They are subject to harsh environmental conditions that can minimise service life and safety, not to mention aesthetic appeal. Coatings have been around for many years, providing protection against corrosion and wear. The playing field has now changed dramatically thanks to novel nanomaterials and coating technologies developed by the EU-funded project 'Multi-level protection of materials for vehicles by 'smart' nanocontainers' (MUST).
Novel miniaturised containers (nanocontainers) were loaded with healing agents and incorporated into multi-layer coatings. Changes in the environment (pH, temperature, water, etc.) induced release of these agents, facilitating their transport throughout the coating. Some of MUST's top performers include pre-treatments and primers for corrosion inhibition in automobile and aircraft components. Active protection coatings with layered double hydroxide nanocontainers of corrosion inhibitor and silica nanocontainers for active corrosion protection are some examples. They also include corrosion-inhibiting structural adhesives for cars and maritime coatings. More information is available on the http://www.sintef.no/Projectweb/MUST/ (project website).
MUST self-healing coatings are expected to meet or surpass current environmental regulations while keeping processing costs down regardless of the transport sector. They have received international recognition, resulting in 50 publications and 5 patent applications, and enabled the creation of a spin-off company. Longer service lifetimes and less degradation will have important impact on the competitiveness of the transport sector and the safety of passengers.