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Paint microcapsules inhibit corrosion

Microscopic image of polystyrene capsules with anticorrosive substances

Poli-USPMicroscopic image of polystyrene capsules with anticorrosive substancesPoli-USP

The fight against corrosion occurs on several fronts in industry. The protective layers of many products ensure the integrity of the metal. The existing arsenal can be strengthened with yet another weapon: microcapsules that contain a corrosion-inhibiting substance that can be mixed into paints, the result of research carried out at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli/USP). These microcapsules inhibit corrosion in the event of scratches and dents on painted sheet metal. The substance encapsulated in polystyrene microcapsules contains silanol—a chemical compound whose main component is silicon—and cerium, a rare-earth element. The new product, when mixed with paint, can prevent the corrosion process in oil pipelines and storage tanks. “When there is mechanical damage such as scratches or bumps, the capsules added to the paint burst and release components that act against corrosion,” says Professor Idalina Vieira Aoki, of Poli/USP, the adviser of engineer Fernando Cotting, who researched the compound while completing his master’s degree. Another novelty is the type of inhibitor. “The mixture of silanol with cerium ions results in more effective protection against corrosion,” says Idalina. In July, the study won the Petrobras Technology Award in the oil, gas and derivative logistics and transportation technology category. Other possible applications include the sheet metal used in the automotive and appliance industries, such as refrigerators and washing machines, in addition to steel cabinets for office use.