A graphene-based coating under development at UB keeps a piece of steel rust-free (foreground), in stark comparison with a rusted sheet of steel (background).
at Buffalo researchers are making significant progress on rust-proofing
steel using a graphene-based composite that could serve as a nontoxic
alternative to coatings that contain hexavalent chromium, a probable
the scientists’ first experiments, pieces of steel coated with the
high-tech varnish remained rust-free for only a few days when immersed
continuously in saltwater, an environment that accelerates corrosion.
adjusting the concentration and dispersion of graphene within the
composite, the researchers increased to about a month the amount of time
the treated steel can survive in brine. (Because brine is an extremely
harsh environment, the coated steel’s survival time in the real-world
would be many times longer.)
UB chemists leading the project are Sarbajit Banerjee, PhD, an
assistant professor, and Robert Dennis, a PhD student. Their next step
is to use a $50,000 grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention
Institute to enhance the graphene composite’s lasting power, as well as
the quality of its finish.
Steel, an international company that has provided past funding for
Banerjee’s projects, has been helping the scientists test larger sample
sizes, Banerjee said.
Bringing the coating to the market could not only benefit public health, but also save jobs, said Dennis and Banerjee.
product can be made to work with the existing hardware of many
factories that specialize in chrome electroplating, including job shops
in Western New York that grew around Bethlehem Steel,” Banerjee said.
“This could give factories a chance to reinvent themselves in a healthy
way in a regulatory environment that is growing increasingly harsh when
it comes to chromium pollution.”
the thinnest and strongest material known to man, consists of a single
layer of carbon atoms linked in a honeycomb-like arrangement.
material’s hydrophobic and conductive properties may help prevent
corrosion, repelling water and stunting electro-chemical reactions that
transform iron into iron oxide, or rust, Banerjee said.
Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) has
submitted a provisional patent application to protect the coating
Banerjee and Dennis are refining. As sponsors of the research and due to
inventive contribution by Tata employees, Tata Steel also has certain
rights to the technology.
Steel has always displayed leadership in motivating innovative research
and product development by leveraging partnerships with universities.
UB has been one of our choices for cutting-edge coatings technology
development on steel substrate,” said Debashish Bhattacharjee, PhD, Tata
Steel’s group director for Research, Development and Technology.
development of an environmentally friendly alternative to hexavalent
chromium would truly revolutionize this sector,” said Anahita
Williamson, PhD, director of the New York State Pollution Prevention
Institute (NYSP2I), a research and technology transfer center funded by
the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “The metals
plating industry identified this as a high-priority research project
and NYSP2I is excited to support UB researchers in their efforts to
New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, headquartered at
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), is a partnership between RIT,
Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, UB and the
state’s network of Regional Technology Development Centers.
Banerjee, a materials chemist, has worked closely with industry and STOR to commercialize his research since joining UB in 2007.
addition to his work on graphene, Banerjee has spoken to companies in
the building materials industry about his research on vanadium oxide, a
synthetic compound that could be used in “smart” windows that reflect
heat from the sun only on hot days.
2020, our university’s long-range plan, asks faculty to take an active
role in translational research, and our rust-proofing project is an
example of research that benefits communities on both a global and local
scale,” Banerjee said.
Source: University at Buffalo