University Team Tackles Paint Settling Issue


A paint issue sparked collaboration between a U.S.-based coatings maker and a group of mathematicians from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Rust-Oleum Corp., of Vernon Hills, Illinois, said it had an issue when it sent paints by container ship to markets like Indonesia and Australia, according to an announcement issued by the university.

The issue: The paint could settle and harden in transit making the product unusable, resulting in a profit loss, the university explained.

Mathematical Model

Rust-Oleum Head of Research and Development Dennis Lay reached out to the university’s industrial mathematics program for help. Mathematics Professors Bruce Wade and Lei Wang, along with graduate student Emmanuel Asante-Asamani, familiarized themselves with the paint’s chemistry and built a mathematical model to address the paint-settling problem, the university said.

The team determined that high temperatures inside the containers were problematic. The team said it adjusted the model by controlling for variables like waves or vibrations from the ship’s engine to help determine the high temperatures.

Extreme Temps

“There were some really extreme temperatures when the shipping containers were in dock,” Wade said in a statement. “It was getting to 110, 120 degrees.

“When the [paint] polymers get damaged or the temperature affects their performance,” he continues, “paint can settle and make chemical bonds that can’t be broken.”

Lay said the company is going to use the findings to experiment with its paint formula and was appreciative of the collaboration. Additional details about the collaboration were not immediately available.

Rust-Oleum, owned by RPM International Inc., a U.S. holding company based in Medina, Ohio, produces coatings and solutions for consumer, commercial and industrial markets.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's industrial mathematics department focuses on developming mathematical skills that government and industrial employers value.


Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; Formulating; Research and development; Rust-Oleum Corp.; Ships and vessels

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