Paint that monitors structural health
Scientists at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde have developed a Smart Paint for monitoring the physical health of the structures it coats. The paint consists of a mixture of fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion, and highly aligned carbon nanotubes. The combination results in a cement-like coating that can be used to monitor structural stresses and the development of microscopic faults, as the carbon nanotubes become more or less conductive in the presence of corrosion and stress, respectively. The paint not only makes use of an industrial waste material, but also functions well in harsh environments. It is therefore well suited for use in coating structures such as bridges, tunnels, mines, and wind turbines, which must be designed to withstand heavy use and weathering.
Traditional approaches to assessing the physical condition of large structures are expensive and time-consuming. The researchers estimate that Smart Paint costs a mere 1 percent of traditional inspection methods, resulting in significant long-term savings. The material can also communicate early warning signs of physical problems before they become apparent in the form of structural damage.
Contact: University of Strathclyde Civil & Environmental Engineering, Glasgow, UK.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future