New Building Coating Protects Against Erosion


Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom have recently developed a new limewash for building surfaces that uses bacteria to create a barrier against erosion damage.

The team believes the coating to be the first of its kind and is working on a pre-production prototype to be trialed in Scotland.

Coating Testing Plans

According to the university, the limewash contains non-pathogenic bacteria, which increase the amount of carbon dioxide that a building surface can absorb through photosynthesis. As a result, this generates additional calcium carbonate to form a barrier against erosion, as well as encourage self-repairing mechanisms.

Whiskey makers Whyte & Mackay Ltd. have agreed to partner to trial the prototype on their distillery on the Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland. Wind-driven rain on the island reportedly damages the building surfaces of the distillery.

This results in the need for annual recoating, which the company reports is disruptive to production and tourism. This also increases the company’s carbon emissions, as they transport materials to the island and carry out maintenance works.

The self-repairing coating is anticipated to lower the frequency of maintenance, reduce disruption to the distillery and to tourism, and lower carbon emissions caused by frequent maintenance. It will also actively absorb carbon, supporting Whyte & Mackay’s stated zero-carbon commitments. 

The researchers report that over time, the limewash will improve the carbon absorption of the building surface, strengthening the outer layer and reducing maintenance requirements.

“We are excited to see the potential impact that our research will have on the resilience and maintenance of the distillery. Following the planned field trials, there is scope for this method to be used on a much wider scale,” said Professor Ljubomir Jankovic, Professor of Advanced Building Design and founder of the University of Hertfordshire’s Zero Carbon Lab.

“As well as supporting Whyte & Mackay’s zero-carbon aims, we also intend to give local community, trade and homeowners the opportunity to use the product. This will help them to lower traditional maintenance costs, supporting environmental goals and the local tourism economy.”

The research was conducted by the university’s Zero Carbon Lab, alongside manufacturer UK Hempcrete Ltd. The work was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the Design Exchange Partnership program.

“This collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire and White & Mackay is a perfect fit for UK Hempcrete,” added Alex Sparrow, UK Hempcrete’s Managing Director.

“This is an opportunity to develop an innovative new low-carbon product in tandem with the development of primary research at the University, and simultaneously see its application in a real-world context. This fits exactly with our ethos of improving the technical performance of buildings in the real world, whilst lowering their carbon footprint.”

The team reportedly plans to have the prototype in place by July, followed by a three to six month testing period.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Carbon dioxide; Coating Materials; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Coatings Technology; Colleges and Universities; Commercial Buildings; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Erosion; Latin America; Lime wash; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Self-healing; Testing + Evaluation; Z-Continents

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