We are excited to announce $750K NSF SBIR Phase II Award:
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project aims to continue the development of a family of new nanostructured conductive additives for use in high-performance coatings and composite resins. Static charge buildup from the environment is a critical problem in a number of vehicular applications, which increasingly utilize lightweight components constructed from non-conductive plastic or composite materials. Static charge buildup interferes with electronic components, such as distributed sensors, so that mitigation of this effect is essential for safe vehicle operation. The design of lightweight vehicles using composite materials, which requires high-performing antistatic coatings, will lead to large reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions in transportation. In 2011, emissions from transportation accounted for 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Modern aircraft designs, utilizing composite materials, show more than 20% reduction in fuel consumption compared to traditional vehicles. Imminent increases in fuel efficiency standards in automobiles will also drive manufacturers to adopt the use of composite materials. The development of the proposed antistatic coatings is essential to enabling these new lightweight material technologies.
The new additives are based on the synthesis of self-assembling nanostructures of conductive polymers and structure-directing agents. When successfully incorporated in commercial paints and primers, the conductive properties of the coating are enhanced without compromising adhesion and durability. In this Phase II effort, we will further optimize these additives, based on key customer requirements, and develop a plan to scale up their production tenfold with reduced waste and production time. Corrosion properties for marine applications will also be evaluated, and the product portfolio will be expanded to address follow-on applications.