The billion-dollar-plus boom in nanocoating technology will be getting a closer look as several federally funded studies undertake to study the risks of nanomaterials.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $5.5 million to three consortia to support research on nanotechnology. The grants will help researchers determine whether certain nanomaterials can leach out of coatings, paints, plastics, and fabrics and other products during use or disposal and whether they could become toxic to people and the environment.
Ohio-based MesoCoat Inc.
is one of several companies
leading the nanocoatings
charge in protective and
EPA and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council are leading a scientific research effort “to better understand the potential risks to people’s health and the environment,” EPA said. The scientific information developed from the research can help guide EPA and other agencies in decisions about the safety of new materials and products that are made using nanotechnology.
Nanostructured coatings are likely to replace traditional coatings in the medium- to long term in protective, marine and transportation coatings; industrial manufacturing and packaging; and other end-use segments, a new report predicts.
The global market for nanostructured coatings was $1.3 billion in 2010 and should top $3.5 billion by 2015, according to “The World Market for Nanostructured Coatings,” recently published by researchandmarkets.com.
Growth is expected across all sectors for the next five to 10 years, led by anti-corrosion coatings for military applications and for oil and gas pipelines.
Properties such as corrosion resistance, flame retardancy, UV stability, gloss retention and chemical and mechanical properties are improved significantly using nanostructured materials, the report notes.
Main end user markets for nanostructured coatings in 2010 included construction and exterior protection (mainly in anti-weathering coatings), military and defense (anti-corrosion coatings for military vehicles and protective textiles for soldiers), and automotive (anti-corrosion, thermal barrier and hydrophobic coatings).
“The World Market for Abrasion, Wear and Corrosion Resistant Nanocoatings” totaled $352.4 million in 2010 and is expected to exceed $879.2 million by 2015, according to a second recent study by researchandmarkets.com.
Main markets for these coatings are—and will continue to be—in marine, military, energy (oil and gas pipelines and drilling), aerospace and automotive sectors, where the effects of abrasion, wear and corrosion have a massive financial and safety impact.
Nanostructured coatings provide improved scratch and abrasion resistance, superhardness that rivals diamond in performance, improved wear resistance and toughness properties and comprehensive corrosion inhibition as well as meeting stringent regulatory and safety requirements, the report notes.
Nanotechnology is the science of very small matter called nanomaterials, which are structured in size between 1 to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is 100,000 times thinner than a strand of hair. At extremely small sizes, the laws of physics change and nanomaterials can exhibit unique properties different than the same chemical substances in a larger size. This opens up new opportunities for the development of innovative products and services.
“The responsible development of nanotechnology can play a major role in sustaining a positive, healthy environment; a vibrant and growing economy; and a high standard of living,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development.
“Understanding the risks posed by engineered nanomaterials is a global challenge that is best met through international collaboration, drawing on the combined expertise of researchers from diverse backgrounds.”
In addition to EPA's $5.5 million, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has contributed $500,000 through a new research partnership between the two agencies. Grant awards were made to three consortia consisting of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. Each U.S. team of researchers received $2 million from EPA and CPSC for a total of $6 million. Each U.K. team also receives $2 million from the U.K. agencies, resulting in a grand total of $12 million to conduct the research.