Progress Made on Corrosion Inhibitor


A research group, originally based out of Swansea University, has continued to make progress on a corrosion inhibitor that can replace hexavalent chromium, which was banned by the EU due to health concerns.

The product, known as Intell-ion, is being developed by Hexigone, a company that says that the coating can be used on metal, which releases the inhibitor, resulting in “on-demand” corrosion protection.

According to OSHA, hexavalent chromium, also known as Cr(VI), is a toxic form of chromium that can negatively impact the health of those exposed; it has been known to cause lung cancer, as well as nasal and sinus cancer; and eye, nose and throat irritation, among other issues. According to Hexigone, the EU banned hexavalent chromate last month.

‘On Demand’ Protection

Patrick Dodds, a graduate student in the school’s College of Engineering, was credited with discovering the material and manufacturing process for a smart release coating said to outperform hexavalent chromium in laboratory tests.

The team’s method involves a stored reservoir of corrosion inhibitor. By channeling aggressive electrolyte anions (negatively charged ions) into the coating, the release of the inhibitor is triggered “on demand” in order to prevent corrosion, it explains.

“This is a significant breakthrough, showing a smarter and safer way of reducing corrosion,” said Geraint Williams, the university’s corrosion expert and leader of the research team in 2016.

“The new product is environmentally sound, economical and outperforms the market leader in laboratory tests,” he added at the time.

Research and Development

According to the researchers, the product outperformed hexavalent chromium in salt spray testing, the standard test for corrosion.

The team used a purpose-built scanning Kelvin probe, which can detect the state of the metal beneath a coating without touching it. The custom system allowed them to test different products much more quickly—within 24 hours, as opposed to the standard 500-hour window, they explained.

Recent Progress

Dodds, now founder and CEO of Hexigone, told BBC News that the company has expanded to seven employees over the past 12 months.

“This is ranging from technical to business development to marketing. We're looking to grow again over the next year," Dodds said. “We've gone from one research partner to 20 global research partners. We have got them in regions where they don't have to stop using hexavalent chromate.”

Industry expert and Hexigone investor, Phil Buck, also added, "In my 40 years in the industry we have been searching for a comparable anti-corrosion pigment that delivers the same results as lead and chromate complexes."

The Development Bank of Wales and Innovate UK have also invested 1 million pounds (roughly $1.3 million) in helping to develop the business.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; Corrosion control coatings; Corrosion protection; EU; Europe

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