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Study: Coatings Release Nanoparticles

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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Integrating nanoparticles into coatings is one of the most rapidly developing fields in coatings technology right now, but researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been looking not at the short-term gains from nanoparticle-dispersed coatings, but rather at some of the possible long-term consequences.

Scientists at the U.S. government-run center recently published a paper looking at findings from accelerated weathering testing they did on a particular commercially available nanoparticle-infused coating, and their findings point to the idea that long-term exposure could lead to the release of nanoparticles from the coating into the environment.

NIST researchers
F. Webber / NIST

NIST researchers' findings point to the idea that long-term exposure could lead to the release of nanoparticles from the coating into the environment.

The ultimate effects of various nanoparticles making their way into the environment aren't really understood yet; this preliminary research is cause for more investigation, the NIST says.

Humidity, UV Exposure Factors

The coating the scientists tested was a nanosilica/polyurethane coating; their study, published in the Journal of Coatings Technology and Research, builds on other NIST research related to epoxy nanocomposites. Nanosilica-dispersed polyurethanes have been developed for qualities including hydrophobicity and scratch resistance.

The most notable finding of the new NIST study, according to the researchers, is that exposure to high humidity coupled with a long period of UV exposure led to more significant releases of silica nanoparticles from the coating. Samples weathered in low humidity released some nanoparticles, but not as many.

The nanoparticles, when they were released from the coating material, “often bound together in clusters,” according to NIST.

Affect on Industry

The discoveries from this and other studies related to nanoparticle-dispersed coatings could affect how manufacturers approach the developing field, and how governments and industry groups choose to regulate the coatings.

“These data, and the data from future experiments of this type, are valuable for developing computer models to predict the long-term release of nanoparticles from commercial coatings used outdoors, and in turn, help manufacturers, regulatory officials and others assess any health and environmental impacts from them,” said NIST research chemist Deborah Jacobs, lead author on the study.

Other authors on the study are: Sin-Ru Huang, Yu-Lun Cheng, Savelas A. Rabb, Justin M. Gorham, Peter J. Krommenhoek, Lee L. Yu, Tinh Nguyen and Lipiin Sung.

About NIST

The research was a collaboration between the NIST’s Engineering Laboratory and Material Measurement Laboratory. The NIST, which received $971.3 million in federal funding in 2016, is dedicated to promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve Americans’ quality of life.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Coating chemistry; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Nanotechnology; NIST; North America; Research

Comment from Jesse Melton, (10/5/2016, 7:35 AM)

If the coating is damp and exposed to lots of sun it breaks down and wee bits become airborne? I hope PPG and Sherwin Williams stay abreast of new research findings. With this new information we know it's very possible that 20-25 years down the road that outdoor coatings will need to be coated over. Desaturated colors aren't even on the radar when stains from adjacent metal objects or trees and abrasion by wind blown particles might cause already applied coatings to breakdown and they could be spewing off all sorts of toxic materials right now! This could spell the end for outdoor coatings.

Comment from Cameron Duncan, (10/5/2016, 9:16 AM)

While the infusion of Si-based elements into paints offers hydro-/oleophobic characteristics, I questioned this issue--potential health/environmental issues--as well as what may need to be done to redcoat said surface(s). Love how they protect themselves, yet remain cautious.

Comment from William Feliciano, (10/5/2016, 1:43 PM)

I work in the Albany, NY area, which is touted by many as the "Capital of Nanotechnology" given the presence of SUNY College of Nanoscale Engineering and RPI in our immediate vincinity. Needless to say those of us in this area are more likely to stumble across nanotech information than most others. Some time ago I came across an article that mentioned the need for more research into safety issues of handling and using nanoparticles. One of these expounded on current safety face masks not being able to filter out such particles due to their size, and the effect of such tiny partices when locked into the most inner surfaces of our lungs. Hence, some dangers of nanoparticles were already well understood if for no other reason than their minute dimensions. That said, you'd think that "shedding" properties of coatings utilizing nanoparticles would have been one of the earliest tests for such coatings. Again, like hydrofracking, you have technology outpacing regulation. Not that I am against either technology - I believe in progress for our nation and our companies. But do it prudently and responsibly. The research outlined above comes late (an understatement) if such coatings are already in service.

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