SynMatter LLC has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant of $1M to commercialize products based on its next-generation Smart Particle technology. This grant is a continuation of the successful Phase I that demonstrated the high performance of its durable, highly hydrophobic, anticorrosive Smart Particles that have the potential to deliver a step change in corrosion protection.

A landmark study published in 2016 by the National Association for Corrosion Engineers estimated the direct cost of corrosion as 3.4% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or $2.5T every year. In the United States, the annual cost of corrosion is estimated at 3.1% of GDP, equivalent to $635B (2018). These costs double when accounting for indirect costs, such as offshore platform or refinery downtime, ship drydocking, and the impact of bridge collapses. Without protection, metals corrode quickly leading to a loss in structural integrity and ultimately failure of metal assets, such as buildings, bridges, oil & gas platforms, airplanes and cars.

To deal with this significant corrosion issue, SynMatter created a completely new class of materials, termed superhydrophobic Smart Particles, that exhibit both corrosion inhibitor release and superhydrophobic properties. When incorporated into coatings, superhydrophobic Smart Particles impart excellent passive corrosion protection to coatings through water repellency at loading rates as low as 2.0 wt%. Importantly, the coatings retain their high levels of hydrophobicity even after sandpaper abrasion, demonstrating their ability to withstand significant use and abrasion without losing their protective performance. The superhydrophobic Smart Particles were designed such that, should corrosion occur, e.g. due to physical damage, the superhydrophobic Smart Particles released corrosion inhibitors that delivered a secondary line of active protection. This unprecedented dual function coating –water repellency + active inhibitor release – dramatically increased the corrosion protection performance of coatings.

In Phase II, SynMatter will optimize the performance of the superhydrophobic Smart Particles, design an efficient scale-up process, improve coating formulation and demonstrate the performance of its materials in extensive internal and third-party corrosion testing. Superhydrophobic Smart Particles have the potential to deliver a step change in corrosion protection to even the most corrosive environments, such as the offshore oil & gas industry – who are in desperate need for new solutions – and the larger marine market.

SynMatter would like to thank the NSF and its wider network for their support.

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