A new coating solution discovered by researchers at Simon Fraser University can turn ordinary materials into waterproof surfaces. The product will be cheaper to produce, free from harmful fluorine compounds, and effective on a variety of materials. Their research results have been published in Nature communications.
Hogan Yu, professor of chemistry at SFU and project manager, estimates that his patented sealing solution will be up to 90% cheaper to produce. Yu and his team are currently pitching the idea through investors and companies with the aim of bringing the product to market.
The new formula was invented at Yu’s lab when SFU graduate student Lishen Zhang and another student were working on an experiment in 2016. The student used a reagent that had been left open for a few days, surprisingly generating waterproof surfaces. “At the time, we believed that prolonged exposure to air led to the degradation of the reagent, which prompted Lishen to explore an unconventional reaction that is now essential to our coating technology,” says Yu.
Yu and his team have spent the past five years testing and refining the formulation of the coating solution, which is based on a simple combination of chemicals called organosilane, water, and industrial solvent. A variety of materials, such as fabric, glass, wood, and metal can be sprayed or dipped into the coating mixture. Tests have shown that treated surfaces remain waterproof for at least 18 months and further testing is underway to determine their performance over an even longer period of time or under harsh physical conditions.
The effectiveness of the waterproof coating was examined by so-called water contact angle tests. On a water-repellent (hydrophobic) surface, a droplet remains spherical and glides instead of sinking and clinging to the surface. The team found that their coating had the highest water contact angles compared to branded commercial products, such as Scotchgard ™, Woods ™, KIWI ™, NikwaxTM, NeverWet® and Grangers ™.
Beyond waterproof clothing, the researchers predict that their invention could be applied to the creation of antibiofouling, stain-resistant coatings for iron or steel, anti-icing and water-repellent paints for building construction, as well as effective membranes for the construction of buildings. water-oil separation.
“Since the production method of this waterproofing solution is simple and inexpensive, the production can also be easily expanded for industrial and commercial applications,” explains Yu.
This product has excellent properties in terms of waterproofing, convenience, cost and robustness, and it is also environmentally friendly, “he adds.” We believe this product could help improve the lives of people in many ways, such as keeping us dry and comfortable. on rainy days, which are common on the west coast where we like to live. “
The team is currently liaising with SFU’s Technology Licensing Office regarding intellectual property protection and marketing plans after filing a provisional U.S. patent application in January.
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