Smart coating paves way for sustainable removal of mercury from water

While scientists were working on a new approach to coating materials, an imaginative approach to polymer surface coating has not only paved way for sustainable removal of mercury from water, it has also helped provide wide range of protection including for preventing metal corrosion and solvent damage of plastic PVC pipes.

The smart coating has been made using low-cost chemicals elemental sulfur and dicyclopentadiene. Scientists say that the smart coating is also able to prevent acid and water damage of concrete surfaces and be repaired in situ by a simple heating process.

Along with its protective powers against corrosion, solvent damage and acid and water damage, the research found the active coating can capture toxic metals such as mercury. The coating is repairable and scratches and damage can be prepared by the simple application of heat, the Flinders-Liverpool team found.

This process is possible because of the coating’s chemical structure which allows sulfur-sulfur bonds to be broken and re-formed. Flinders University chemistry Professor Justin Chalker says the research is a significant step forward in multi-functional coatings.

“The unique chemical composition of the smart coating enables protection of substrates, active removal of toxic mercury species from water and oil, and is repairable which ensures its sustainability,” says Matthew Flinders Professor Chalker, from the Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology at Flinders University.

“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.”

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