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SMARCOAT Report Summary

Project ID: 645662
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARCOAT (Development of Smart Nano and Microcapsulated Sensing Coatings for improving of Material Durability/Performance)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The application of coatings to specific substrates can have different purposes including protection against aggressive and external factors, enhancement of performance-relevant properties or simply aesthetics. In the case of high-performance coatings it is important not only to have a coating capable of withstanding extreme conditions allowing the underlying substrate to perform at high level, but also capable of monitoring somehow the condition of the underlying load-carrying substrate and/or the full coating/substrate system.
In this context the main goal of SMARCOAT is to design, synthesize, develop and scale up a set of innovative materials for sensing substrate degradation used in vehicle industry. The concept explored in SMARCOAT accounts for a careful design and selection of systems with smart release functionalities.

The importance of this project for society can be envisaged from different perspectives. Mobility is a key aspect when considering the demands for supply of goods, and accessibility to different places for professional and touristic reasons. On the other hand, the rise of fossil fuel consumption with the consequent detrimental effects for the environment requires the development of new materials capable of imparting significant weight reduction, while keeping good performance throughout the whole service life of the vehicles. This cannot be done only at the level of design of new structural materials, but in an integrative way that accounts for several steps across the whole product life cycle. In SMARCOAT, the focus relies upon improving the detection of degradation of light weight metal alloys and fiber-reinforced plastics, materials which are commonly used in combination as hybrid structures in the aerospace and automotive industries. An early, cost-effective detection of degradation can allow for cheaper yet safer preventive maintenance operations.

The overall technical objectives of the project are:
-Synthesis and characterization of micro and nanocapsules for controlled release of active species upon stimuli by different triggers;
-Incorporation of capsules in different coating formulations and characterization of sensing functionalities;
-Correlation between sensing and level of degradation; optimization of coating components to fine tune the desired level of detection;
-Study of the coating properties considering different aspects;
-Scale up of most promising technologies;
-Industrial validation and standard testing.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

SMARCOAT project is divided into six inter-related, complementary work packages. In WP1, Coordination and Management, all the activities were performed according to the plan. The coordinator, University of Aveiro (UAVR), was supported by all the WP leaders and partner representatives to carry out daily coordination, dissemination and risk management. In WP2, Development of sensing micro and nanomaterials, the main focus leaned on the synthesis of inorganic carriers, polymeric capsules and photoactive nanostructured materials. With respect to the work carried out in WP3, Coating preparation and optimization, the selection of appropriate pre-treatment procedures for different metallic and FRP substrates was carried out. Different coating formulations were selected and the incorporation of additives developed in WP2 tested. pH and impact sensing functionalities were demonstrated and activities related to the distribution of additives in coating layers initiated. In WP4, Impact sensing verification and modelling, the concept of mono-sensitive system with a function of visual response to mechanical actions was realized. Furthermore, modelling of the mechanical properties of a single microcapsule was carried out by using four analytical models/theories, and semi-empirical and constitutive models for the calculation of the elastic moduli of particulate composites with spherical inclusions were analyzed. In WP5, Upscalling and validation, scale up activities started earlier than planned and several systems are already available at pilot scale. Finally, in the frame of WP6, Dissemination and Exploitation, several activities were carried out to disseminate results generated within the project, from participation in conferences and workshops to the publication of manuscripts. Moreover, the plan of staff exchange was implemented with a high level of execution with respect to the number of planned secondments.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

SMARCOAT will provide user-friendly smart sensing coatings to combine with, and in some cases possibly replace complex, costly and discrete maintenance operations, thereby rendering a continuous monitoring of the structural components which may enable earlier and thus effective (preventive) measures to tackle degradation.
Different encapsulation/intercalation strategies are being explored to obtain materials with the desired type and extent of release upon a certain trigger, which coincide with coating degradation, substrate damage or both. Selection of polymers based on their non-toxicity, biodegradability and sustainability has been considered.
The functionalities that will be imparted to these coatings will be focused on detection of coating degradation by opening of (macroscopic) defects and substrate degradation by onset of corrosion processes for metallic substrates and coating/substrate degradation by heavy loads.

Expected impacts
SMARCOAT will definitely contribute to broaden the skills of participating teams. Having a balanced exchange scheme for staff to move within the consortium, from early stage to experienced and senior researchers, will give the opportunity to individuals to contact and experience different environments. This will allow for a better understanding of cultures and expectations lived within different partner organizations and respective countries, enabling the involved people with a higher level of readiness when trying to move from a working sector to another or from a country to another one. This is the basis of European economy and society: mobility of goods and people within the European area.

One of the main objectives that SMARCOAT addresses is the integrated formation of people and instigate them to use their know-how to generate new products, creating new companies and re-inventing the European “industrial tissue” upon a system of flexible but competitive networking of SMEs that will support the large industry players when claiming a share in the global market. The sensing coatings to be developed in SMARCOAT are products for an important branch of the coating market: vehicle industry.

The impact of different measures for communication of results can be considered at different levels:
-Direct recognition of the quality of scientific knowledge generated and its technological relevance; this will contribute for an enrichment of the scientific careers of involved researchers and company staff;
-Advertisement of results will give the involved companies a competitive relevance with respect to other entities working on the same field, which may bring positive effects such as new clients and allow establishment of partnerships with industrial consortiums within the frame of other competitive schemes;
-Involvement of society in topics such as materials science and nanotechnology, but also economic related subjects such as high-added value products, entrepreneurship and job creation based on competitive research and innovation activities.
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