Waste-derived coating could protect pipes and absorb pollutants
Industrial piping has a hard life, as it's constantly exposed to liquids that can damage its inner surface over time. A new polymer coating could help protect such pipes, while removing toxic metals from the liquids as it does so.
Currently under development at Australia's Flinders University, the coating is "made easily" from an inexpensive mixture of elemental sulfur and a waxy chemical compound known as dicyclopentadiene – the latter is a byproduct of the petroleum refining process.
And unlike some similar coatings that have been created in the past, this one can be manufactured at the relatively low temperature of 140 ºC (284 ºF), lessening the chances of uncontrollable runaway reactions occurring.
When applied to the inside of PVC, metal or concrete pipes, the polymer is claimed to form a barrier that protects the underlying material from corrosion and other solvent-, acid- or water-related damage. At the same time, it absorbs toxic metals such as mercury from the liquid flowing through the pipe. This quality could make it particularly useful in the petroleum and gas industry, where remediation procedures require pollutants to be removed from oil and water mixtures.
As an added bonus, should the coating get gouged or scratched, the damage can be repaired via the simple application of heat. More specifically, the sulfur-sulfur bonds within the polymer break under localized high-heat conditions, but then uniformly reform as the material subsequently cools.
The study is being led by research associate Max Mann, and also involves scientists from Britain's University of Liverpool. It is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Polymer Chemistry.