Imagine if the paint on the Sydney Harbour Bridge could repair itself whenever it was scratched. With the development of self-healing polymer coatings, such a scenario is possible. Pipelines and other infrastructure exposed to harsh environments could repair themselves after environmental damage.
IFM researchers, led by Prof Russell Varley, are working with the University of Adelaide and multinational oil and gas company, Petronas, to explore new concepts in autonomous healing of materials specifically targeted towards structures and pipelines that experience extremely harsh conditions and are difficult to repair manually.
Petrochemical assets like pipelines and oil rigs around the world are subject to a wide variety of environmental and mechanical pressures that degrade their structural performance and require costly maintenance programs.
While it is impossible to completely prevent degradation, the property of self-healing in materials provides a way of controlling or managing degradation to greatly enhance the structure’s service life.
The benefits of a successful outcome of this project are therefore reduced cost and increased profitability as well as an improved environmental footprint, in that resources are used more efficiently, but spillage and leakage into the environment will also be reduced.