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Scientists Recycle Cup Lids for Coatings

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Silicone waste may be the future of superhydrophobic, self-cleaning coatings.

Scientists at Zhejiang University in China reportedly have developed a way to burn and smash unwanted silicone domestic products, like cup covers, to produce a superhydrophobic powder.

The powder can then be used to fabricate a stable, superhydrophobic surface with mechanical durability, the team explains in a research announcement.

superhydrophobic composite
RSC

Researchers in China have developed a way to produce a superhydrophobic powder from discarded silicone.

The team recently published its research in the journal The Royal Society of Chemistry: Advances.

Cheap Technology

Currently, the only option for reusing waste silicone is to collect discarded products and smash them for further processing for low-value applications. The method is not widespread due to its high cost and complicated processing, according to Lie Shen, who led the research team.

Shen says his team's development provides a cheaper option.

How it Works

“Superhydrophobicity is a sought-after property for anti-corrosion and self-cleaning materials,” the report explains.

Silicone itself is hydrophobic; however, the team’s process permits a change in morphology to hierarchical micro- and nanoscaled roughness that traps air.

Lotus Leaf
©iStock.com / rangerx

Superhydrophobic surfaces can be acheived by tailoring both the chemistry and roughness topography, mimicking the Lotus leaf characteristics.

With a solid-air-liquid interface, the resulting surface is superhydrophobic, like that of a lotus leaf, the team says.

Powder in Use

Scientists who have reviewed the research see a variety of potential applications.

The technology “not only makes the processing eco-neutral, but also provides an attractive economic base to bring such superhydrophobic coatings into areas where the current technology is simply too expensive,” according to Markus Antonietti, the director of Max Plank Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany.

In addition, “As a wipe-on water repellent, the silica-based superhydrophobic powder may hold promise for the development of robust and cheap dewetting coatings,” said materials scientist Yong-Lai Zhang of Jilin University.

   

Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Coatings technology; Research; Self-cleaning coatings

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