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Battelle Beads Detect Early Corrosion

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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A new bead not only senses corrosion but also starts to heal the microscopic cracks it causes, according to Battelle Memorial Institute.

The Battelle Smart Corrosion Detector beads look like a fine, whitish powder that can be mixed with coatings. Coatings with the self-healing beads could detect and reveal corrosion forming on metal substrates before it is visible to the naked eye, Battelle announced Thursday (May 1).

Battelle Smart Corrosion Detector
© iStock / ssuaphoto

Battelle says it has developed beads that can detect corrosion on metal substrates before it's visible to the naked eye.

Ram Lalgudi, principal research scientist, and colleagues Kelly Jenkins, John Stropki, and Wes Childers have been working on this nanotechnology for nearly a decade. They first created a smart coating that could be applied between a primer and topcoat.

Lighting Up Corrosion

The 20- to 50-micron beads fluoresce in the presence of corrosion and can be seen in with a special light, Battelle says.

Not only do the smart beads indicate corrosion under the paint, but they allow the underlying problem to be mitigated, the scientists say.

"This technology can not only address a major issue associated with protecting existing infrastructure in harsh or corrosive environments, but it can also improve the safety and reliability of new infrastructure as it's installed," said Lalgudi.

This technology will be useful in many industries, especially oil and gas, Battelle says. For example, the outside of a pipeline could be scanned with a hand-held light to detect corrosion.

corrosion detection
© iStock / alwyncooper

"This technology can not only address a major issue associated with protecting existing infrastructure in harsh or corrosive environments, but it can also improve the safety and reliability of new infrastructure as it's installed," said Ram Lalgudi, the principal research scientist.

Battelle is currently seeking collaborators to help bring the product to market.

About Battelle

Located in Columbus, OH, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries.

Battelle has technology centers and laboratories around the world, through which it conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers services for government and commercial customers.


Tagged categories: Coatings technology; Corrosion; Metals; Nanotechnology; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Research

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/6/2014, 9:16 AM)

What is the effective lifespan of these beads for the repair function when applied in an outdoor coating? Prior examples of self-healing beads have lost most of their functionality in a year or two. How wide of a damaged area can they deal with? Prior examples of self-healing beads have been limited to very narrow (ie knife cut) type damage.

Comment from John Fauth, (5/7/2014, 8:27 AM)

I've often wondered how similar concepts can be robust enough to survive high speed mixing during coating manufacture and jobsite installation, yet delicate enough to break when a coating cracks. Is this a laboratory curiosity that can't overcome some fundamental realities beyond?

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