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Researchers Develop New Waterproof Coating

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

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Researchers at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia) have reportedly developed a new waterproof coating that they say is cheaper to product, free of fluorinated compounds and effective on a wide variety of materials, compared to other products.

The research, led by SFU chemistry professor and project lead Hogan Yu, was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

The Process

According to the university, research began in 2016 at Yu’s lab when SFU graduate student Lishen Zhang and another student were working on an experiment. The student used a reagent that had been left open for a few days, surprisingly generating waterproof surfaces.

“At the time we believed the extended air exposure led to the degradation of the reagent, which inspired Lishen to explore an unconventional reaction that is now critical to our coating technology,” said Yu.

Yu and his team have since been testing and refining the formula for the coating solution, which is based on a combination of chemicals known as organosilane, water and an industrial solvent.

The mixture can reportedly be used on a variety of materials, such as fabric, glass, wood and metal, which can be sprayed with or dipped into the coating. Tests have shown that the treated surfaces remain waterproof for at least 18 months and further testing is underway to determine their performance over an even longer time period or under harsh physical conditions.

The coating’s effectiveness was examined through “water contact angle tests.” This is when, on a water-repellant (hydrophobic) surface, a droplet remains spherical and slides off instead of sinking into and clinging to the surface.

The team estimates that the coating could be applied to create antibiofouling, stain-resistant coatings for iron or steel, anti-icing and water-repelling paint for building construction, as well as efficient membranes for water-oil separation.

“Since the method to produce this waterproofing solution is simple and low-cost, the production can also be easily scaled up for industrial and commercial applications,” Yu said.

The team is currently liaising with SFU’s Technology Licensing Office about IP protection and commercialization plans, after a provisional U.S. patent application was filed in January. The team is also currently floating the idea by investors and companies with the goal of commercializing the product.

Other Hydrophobic Coatings

Around this time last year, researchers at Espoo, Finland-based Aalto University published findings in the journal Nature about new potential uses for an armor-plated superhydrophobic material.

“Superhydrophobic surfaces repel water like nothing else,” a press release from the university noted.

“This makes them extremely useful for antimicrobial coatings—as bacteria, viruses and other pathogens cannot cling to their surfaces. However, superhydrophobic surfaces have one major flaw—they are extremely susceptible to cuts, scratches or dents. If a superhydrophobic surface gets damaged, the damaged area can trap liquids and the benefits of the coating are lost.”

To combat this, researchers from Finland and China have developed an “armor-plated” superhydrophobic surface that is reportedly more durable.

The work is for surfaces of metal, glass or ceramic and the researchers cite nanostructures in a “honeycomb” pattern.

“The armor can be made from almost any material, it’s the interconnection of the surface frame that makes it strong and rigid,” said Professor Robin Ras, a physicist at Aalto University whose research group was part of the project.

“We made the armor with honeycombs of different sizes, shapes and materials. The beauty of this result is that it is a generic concept that fits for many different materials, giving us the flexibility to design a wide range of durable waterproof surfaces.”

Researchers note that the of the many uses for the coating, one example is an application to photovoltaics, where a build-up of moisture and dirt can block the amount of light absorbed and impact electricity production.

“Making a solar panel out of a superhydrophobic glass surface would maintain their efficiencies over long periods of time,” the university said. “Furthermore, as solar cells are often on roof tops and other difficult to reach locations, the repellent coatings would cut down the amount of cleaning that is needed.”

Researchers at the time said that they hope to further their work in pushing for commercialization of the material and explore broader applications.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Coating Materials; hydrophobic coatings; NA; North America; Research and development; Waterproofing

Comment from Regis Doucette, (5/4/2021, 6:00 AM)

Extreme caution is needed with “miracle” coatings like asbestos, lead, glow in dark Radium paint, and some nano-coatings—each with their own hazards. For nano-coatings focused upon water-interaction consider that they don’t just “stop working”, but rather migrate to another surface over time. In other words, an “unnatural” roof coating of that nature will be created and extensively placed into OUR environment without anything there to block it’s runoff into our environment. Blockage, because of their tiniest size, is of concern here because if you can invade a living organism (fish, livestock, pets, our own active brains as adults and kids), if there is enough accumulation, you could interfere with nervous systems, our organic machines called organs, and even our brain cells as they try to combat this new toxic invasive challenge. I have committed decades to fight non-visible contaminants with my efforts to remove Nature’s ionic-sized soluble salts that are NATURAL. We can prove our salt remover system leaves no film with Scanning Electron Microscopy, and know that relocating those salts deposited from rainfall or combustion will go into the environment with minimal unnatural interference in the scope of things. Putting an invasive toxin that will pass into our bodies designed to interfere with fluid mechanisms is the height of bioaccumulation problems at the most important basic levels for mammals on this planet. It could even endanger our reproductive systems making it a species killer. Protect our water, our food, and even air from these microscopic agents of destruction veiled as friends “To Serve Man”.

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