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High-throughput development of carbon-polymer nanocomposites for marine applications

Final Report Summary - CARBONCOMP (High-throughput development of carbon-polymer nanocomposites for marine applications)

CARBONCOMP project website:

One of the major obstacles in the effective use of nanostructured carbon as reinforcement in polymer matrix composites is its agglomeration and poor dispersion within the matrix. To overcome this obstacle the CARBONCOMP project will synthesize environmentally friendly nanoscaled polymers of nanostructured carbon (carbon nanotubes, graphene) by employing cost-effective methods. Lab-scale production of carbon-based nanocomposites was implemented, primarily for marine coatings but also for other applications where materials performance or biodegradability is of major importance. Carbon nanotubes-polymer nanocomposites can either exhibit antimicrobial action, due to the impingement of nanometer-sized fibers and the needle-like structure of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that can easily penetrate through the cell walls of bacteria, or facilitate easy release of microorganisms responsible for biofouling. The latter is especially true for hard fouling caused by higher organisms, such as barnacles, because they cannot be disinfected but instead need to be dislodged from the material surface.

Taking the above under consideration, the developed coatings constitute new third generation paints, which do not contain harmful biocides, such as copper. Copper achieves antifouling efficiency by killing the seawater microorganisms and not just by releasing them from the surface, as our coatings do. In addition, by the incorporation of nanoparticles in the coating the durability problem of the existing commercial paints can be solved. The proposed environmentally friendly coatings aim at reducing the flow resistance between the ship's hull and the water and lead to significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, while decreasing the maintenance and traveling costs.

The main project objectives were:
- Synthesis of low cost ad-hoc nanostructured carbon at high-throughput
- Development of nanoparticles modification schemes, which can result in fast and economical
synthesis of multifunctional nanocomposites
- Modeling of carbon nanotubes and resin compositions for marine coatings via the novel method of
artificial neural network
- In vivo evaluation of the fouling release performance of the optimal coatings
- Large-scale production of the qualified coatings

The objectives of the project have been reached and are described below.

Work Package 1 has been dedicated to the preparation of low cost nanostructured carbon. Low-cost high purity carbon nanotubes were produced and subsequently characterized. Low-cost fabrication of graphene and graphene oxide was also implemented. Thorough structural and morphology characterization of the nanostructures has been carried out using a variety of techniques, such as SEM, XRD and AFM. In parallel, advanced routes for the modification and/or functionalization of CNTs and graphene have been employed in order to increase the dispersion of the carbon-based nanostructures into the polymeric matrices.

Work Package 2 dealt with the lab-scale preparation of nanocomposites. Several known preparation methods, such as pre-batch or paste making, were employed for the development of well-dispersed carbon based nanocomposites. The detailed investigation of the parameters affecting each method
has enabled the consortium to determine the optimum conditions leading to the products with the desirable dispersibility of the nanostructures and improved properties. The base resins used in our formulations were dictated by the coating producer partner of the consortium (Moravia).

Work Package 3 was dedicated to the characterization of the produced nano composites. Characterization studies were carried out on composite formulations coated on proper specimens. The hydrophobicity and tendency for bioadhesion were used as tool for the selection of the most promising formulations that were immersed in seawater for the monitoring of the antifouling/fouling release performance by partners Moravia and Dokuz Eylul University. Mechanical tests, as dictated by coatings certification procedure, were also implemented in these formulations.

Work Package 4 refers to the upscale of the qualified material production processes and represents a key enabling technology for manufacturers (including the industrial partners of the CARBONCOMP consortium) to maximize profit and gain competitive advantages. Optimization of the processing input parameters was performed in order to achieve desired processability (e.g. rheological properties) and performance (mechanical, electrical and thermal properties) at larger production scale as well as improved antifouling/fouling release properties. Marketing analysis and financial viability of the proposed solution (most well performing, coatings) were carried out at the end of the project.

Potential impact and use

CARBONCOMP has contributed to:
1. Enhancement of the international cooperation in the area of polymer nanocomposites, through targeted actions related to design, preparation, characterisation and potential use of polymer nanocomposites that involve joint efforts by the participating SMEs and research partners.
2. Consolidation of the ability of the SME partners to be self-standing in terms of R&D capacities and enhancement of the business skills of the academic/research partners.
3. Improvement of the research management capacity of the SME partners.
4. Boost of the research potential of the participating SMEs (principally) and the R&D partners, through targeted activities in specific research areas related to nanotechnology-based materials.
5. Organisation of outreaching actions that should act as a bridge in strengthening bonds of the all partners with the industrial and academic communities.
6. Upgrade of the scientific value of CARBONCOMP members through the recruitment of leading experts, the training of personnel and two-way secondments.
7. Promotion of the dissemination of knowledge and innovative R&D activities produced by the members of CARBONCOMP consortium.
8. The introduction of novel renewable and high efficient polymer nanocomposites in marine transportation and other industrial processes together with their use in daily life and increase public awareness and acceptance
9. The improvement of the quality of life, creation new and high-level jobs and supply of advanced services.

Project Partners

Glonatech S.A. a leading Greek SME company active in nanoparticles synthesis and development of applications of nanostructured carbon, which is acting as the project coordinator (

NCSR Demokritos, a Greek-based renowned research institute with the participating group working in the field of preparation and characterisation of nanostructured materials and polymer nanocomposites. The partner laboratory has recently embarked in an effort to upgrade its infrastructure, enhance considerably its research potential and become a regional center of excellence in the field (

Moravia Paint, a marine coating producer located in Turkey with long lasting experience in synthesis of antifouling paints (

Dokuz Eylül University, an Izmir-based university with the participating team possessing extensive know-how in materials characterization especially in investigating and accounting for the antifouling and fouling release performance of marine coatings (