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Melbourne plastics experts awarded 2003 CSIRO medal: DuPont using technology in producing automotive coatings

Published on 2003-12-17. Author : SpecialChem

The Engineered Polymers team of Melbourne has been awarded a 2003 CSIRO medal for developing a novel process which stands to revolutionise a large part of the plastics industry. The critically acclaimed process which is known as RAFT polymerization is a new process for polymer synthesis. It is expected that this process will give scientists and technologists unprecedented flexibility in tailoring the properties of plastics.

The plastics are synthesized by linking together large numbers of small molecules to form large molecular chains and this process is known as polymerization. It is the length of the chains that determine the properties of the plastic, the shorter chains being quite different from the longer ones.

According to the team leader, Dr Ezio Rizzardo, there was no generally applicable way that would allow manufacturers to control the lengths of the polymer chains as they formed until RAFT came along.

There were several ways to decrease the average length of the chain but these ways were unsuccessful in reducing the spread of chain lengths produced. There were also methods which were used to control the distribution of chain lengths but they were expensive and were specific to certain plastics.

It is reported that RAFT has given researchers the ability to precision engineer the final product so that the materials could be tailored to match their end use.

It is expected that the technology will be incorporated in applications ranging from elastomers, coatings, adhesives and cosmetics to membranes, biomaterials, photo-imaging and drug delivery.

It is reported that the DuPont Performance Coatings are currently using RAFT in the production of new-generation automotive coatings which they have recently introduced into the market place. They are now investigating the use of this technology for producing improved pigments for ink-jet printing on textiles.

Several other companies are collaborating with CSIRO in order to develop the technology for the advanced photo-imaging materials, nanocomposites for use in the automotive industry the next generation of architectural and decorative paints.

CSIRO stands for Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which is one of the world's largest and most diverse scientific global research organisations. Their work touches every aspect of Australian life: from the molecules in space to the molecules that build life.

Working from sites across the nation and around the globe, their 6500 staff focus on providing new ways to improve the quality of life, as well as the social and economic performance of a number of industry sectors through research and development.

These sectors include :
Agribusiness
Energy and Transport
Environment and Natural Resources
Health
Information, Communication and Services
Manufacturing
Mineral Resources


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