New Smart Coating Removes Mercury, Prevents Corrosion in Pipelines

Cover artwork features the ‘hot’ new article in Polymer Chemistry. Image courtesy of Max Mann, Flinders University.

A research team led by Flinders University (Adelaide, South Australia) has developed a sustainable polymer surface coating for PVC pipes that removes mercury from water as well as prevents metal corrosion and solvent damage. Made from low-cost waste chemicals found in oil refining and other sources, this smart coating can also prevent acid and water damage to concrete surfaces, according to project leader and Flinders PhD candidate Max Mann.

Mann and his fellow researchers published their results in the current issue of Polymer Chemistry, where their article is the cover story.

“Made easily from elemental sulfur and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD is a by-product of petroleum refining), this new coating is multi-functional which gives us wide scope to use it in a wide range of useful ways and for longer lasting industrial products and components,” says Mann. “This exciting new area of research extends fundamental chemistry to several practical applications.”

“The method for making the coating is safer than methods previously used for related coatings,” adds Dr. Bowen Zhang, a researcher from the University of Liverpool (Liverpool, United Kingdom) and co-author of the study. “The team developed a lower temperature process that prevented runaway reactions.”

Along with its ability to protect against corrosion, solvent damage, and acid and water damage, the researchers found the active coating can also capture toxic metals such as mercury. What’s more, the coating can be repaired in situ by a simple application of heat—a process made possible by the coating’s chemical structure allowing sulfur-sulfur bonds to be broken and reformed.

This research is a significant step forward in multi-functional coatings, according to Justin Chalker, a professor in chemistry at Flinders’ Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology.

“The coating is solvent resistant and can also remove mercury from oil and water mixtures, which is of importance to remediation in the petroleum and gas industry,” says Chalker.

The project was funded by the Australian Research Council as part of an ongoing collaboration between Chalker’s lab and the lab of Dr. Tom Hasell at the University of Liverpool.

Source: Flinders University,