A firm solution for painting problems

Wednesday, 29 November 2000

Fast-drying paint and long-life milk may be some of the results of research at Adelaide University that has just been published in the journal New Scientist.

The research involves oil-in-water emulsions; mixtures in which an oily liquid is suspended as tiny droplets in a watery base.

"Normally these emulsions tend to cream," said Dr Brian Saunders, from Adelaide University's Department of Chemistry. "The oil droplets tend to float to the top and form a layer, like cream in milk," he said.

"We have developed an emulsion which suddenly turns to a gel when the temperature rises past 48 degrees Celsius," said Dr Saunders. "Because it is a reversible process, cooling the gel down allows the emulsion to flow again."

The applications of such an emulsion could be many.

Emulsions like long-life milk and salad dressings could be made to last much longer and prevented from separating into layers, but some of the most promising uses may be in paints.

"Conventional paints tend to run when they are warmer," said Dr Saunders. "This makes it hard to paint hot objects, like steel that is emerging from a rolling process," he said.

"Paints made using this emulsion would solidify on contact with hot objects instead of running off them."

The current research will be published in the December issue of Chemical Communications. Further work will be published in the new year.

The research group has had expressions of interest from several industry groups, including those specialising in agricultural chemicals, to develop applications of the technology.

Photo at: http://www.chemistry.adelaide.edu.au/groups/colloid/BRS.htm

 

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Dr Brian Saunders
Email: brian.saunders@adelaide.edu.au
The University of Adelaide
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Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/
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