Specialty Chemical Development to Address Material Degradation and Preserve Machinery

ELN, Materials Studio

specialty chemical development
Material degradation makes waste of great items; however, more research can uncover novel ways of protecting our materials from the elements.
Image Source: Flickr user Diego Torres Silvestre

The materials that make up our bridges and roads, our computers and stoves often seem invariable, forever locked in their current structures. However, science tells us that materials are always changing “both on a molecular and macroscopic scale”1 in a process known as material degradation. Moreover, insights from quantum mechanics suggest that the atoms and molecules that construct our macroscopic items are inherently unstable2, so even when we can’t see material degradation, it is occurring. Eventually, energy inputs within our material systems result in morphological changes that alter the behavior of materials, which then enables us to visualize material degradation such as erosion, cracking or oxidation.3

Fighting the Good Fight Against Material Degradation

Ultimately, the key to improving the longevity and safety of the many materials that we utilize is to slow the process of material degradation. This means formulating specialty chemicals and polymers that will better protect surfaces from the most common sources of materials contamination including water, organic materials and solvents, acid and other penetrants.4 When devising new strategies and developing chemicals to protect against material degradation, researchers should keep the following in mind:

  • Specific environmental factors: Beyond oxygen and acid, certain materials are also susceptible to biological organisms such as fungi or insects. In considering the type of chemical coatings to use, researchers should consider, for instance, how certain specialty chemicals can be modified to include insect repellants. Additionally, strong UV light can weaken plastics that could be modified with a formulated additive. Researchers should consider when to use additives in specific markets in order to better protect their products and maintain their safety.5
  • Physical and mechanical effects: As discussed, there are many effects of material degradation that can be visualized. This is a very important consideration in designing alternative coatings because certain coatings might reinforce materials, increasing their durability and strength whereas others might slow certain components of material degradation while ignoring other components. In either case, carefully testing materials and their specific coatings under a variety of conditions to determine how they respond to excess UV exposure or rain, for example, is an important consideration in moving forward with a chemical to prevent material degradation.

Luckily for researchers, there are a variety of technology and software options that can support efforts in determining the physical and mechanical properties of materials and developing specialty chemicals to address material degradation. Digital tools such as electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) and BIOVIA’s Materials Studio are specific examples of options that enable researchers to predict how certain polymer and chemical additives will affect their materials, while also recording the results of their experiments to share with others in a way that facilitates creativity and the discovery process. To determine how BIOVIA can assist your company in creating new chemicals and using existing ones to better protect the materials that help us daily, please contact us today.

  1. “Material Degradation,” September 2005, http://www.mech.utah.edu/~rusmeeha/labNotes/degradation.html
  2. “Oxygen transport in perovskite-type solid oxide fuel cell materials: insights from quantum mechanics,” November 18, 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24972154
  3. “Corrosion, Degradation and Oxidation,” http://www.lpdlabservices.co.uk/problem_solving/typical_technical_expertise/corrision.php
  4. “Causes of Materials Degradation,” http://chemical-biological.tpub.com/TM-1-1500-335-23/css/TM-1-1500-335-23_47.htm
  5. Materials Technology: Degradation of Materials,” October 21, 2013, http://www.slideshare.net/nmacintoshwqsbqcca/degradation-of-materials-class-27412859

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