Watching Paint Solidify

Paint both protect and provide a new aesthetic impression. Paint is applied to many different surfaces (technically called substrates) like structures such as ships, bridges, buildings, vehicles, and oil & gas. The paint on the steel substrate and paint film is the main focus of the present investigation.

Imagine a liquid paint applied on a steel substrate like ship or oil and gas structure. The chemical curing and physical drying of a liquid paint are relatively fast on the surface-air interface as compared to the underneath layers. A skin layer develops as the processes of curing and drying proceed and a number of changes happen in the freshly applied paint. The main changes are; development of cohesive and adhesive forces, decrease in the paint film thickness, increase in modulus (stiffness), glass transition temperature (Tg) and ultimately when a network is formed the volume changes and give rise to an internal stress. The magnitude of the internal stress in the paint film gradually increases and with time reaches its maximum value depending on the degree of cure and the amount of retained solvents. The temperature of the environment along with humidity plays a critical role in defining the Tg and modulus of the paint film that is directly associated with the internal stress. Therefore, it is important to investigate Tg, modulus and internal stress at the same time and at different temperatures.

Figure 1) A part of DMA setup

Figure 1) A part of DMA setup

Figure 2) A part of the tensile stress setup

Figure 2) A part of the tensile stress setup

A team headed by Senior Chemist Saif Ullah at Hempel is investigating glass transition temperature (Tg), modulus (stiffness), the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and tensile stress at Aalborg University’s lab facility (Figure 1 and 2) with the help of Professor Jesper de Claville Christiansen and his team. This research work is part of the Fast Track Consortium and funded by Innovation Fund Denmark.   

The overall aim of the project is to get a better understanding of what happens in the curing process of the paint film applied on the steel substrate and to develop fast screening methods that will enable us to save development time and produce tough and resilient paint.

What if we could avoid the spread of bacteria in hospital environments?

Every year 100,000 Danish patients get infected during hospitalization

This is found in a study made by SSI (Statens Serum Institut). Healthcare-associated infections are still one of the major causes of patient morbidity during hospitalization. Environmentally exposed hospital items such as door handles, bed rails and frames can easily harbour bacteria, and hence, be key areas for spreading bacteria. This is a particularly serious issue in intensive care units and in the case of immune-compromised patients. Therefore, self-disinfecting surfaces in healthcare locations receive increasing attention as additional strategies to the standard disinfection practices.

Door handles, in particular, are referred to as “critical contact points,” as door handles are the most frequently touched surface in any healthcare facility.

Especially, self-cleaning door handles are in focus in a cross-industry project between DTU, Elplatek A/S and the Fast Track consortium under the Innovation Fund Denmark. The latter is a societal partnership delivering services within materials engineering and gives access to swift and effective solutions within the field of materials engineering.

The solution is near


The project is led by Elplatek and is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark. The antimicrobial coating consisting of an electroplated copper-silver alloy, which can kill bacteria on frequently touched surfaces in hospital environments.

Through the project, it has been proven that especially the alloy of copper and silver is what makes the bacteria-killing process unique.

Both copper and silver alloys are well-known for their antibacterial activity. The combination yields an alloy coating that possesses even high antimicrobial activity due to an electrochemically driven killing mechanism.

Furthermore, electroplating is a low-cost manufacturing process, feasible on large-scale production and allows a regenerative design approach.

After just two hours the coating shows incredible results

The antibacterial efficacy of the copper-silver electroplated coating has been demonstrated according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test method. Results have shown that the coating kills more than 99.9 % of Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Enterobacter aerogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa already after two hours of exposure to the copper-silver surface.

Improving patient experiences, while saving money

By minimizing the spread of bacteria, in this case via door handles, we can avoid a huge part of the spread of bacteria in hospital facilities. This minimization will probably be able to save thousands of patients for uncomfortable and risky infections and eventually save enormous amounts of time and money.                                   

Fast Track is proud to be a partner in this present copper-silver project. Go to our website to learn more about our other projects.