Eco Innovator November 2011
Waste-Free Paint For Cars
A scientist who developed a
way to spray paint cars that totally eliminates waste and volatile organic
compounds won the 2011 Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation.
Dr Wojciech Gutowski, chief
research scientist at the CSIRO, won the award for his research in the
field of sealants, adhesives and coatings. The estimated savings of his
technology to the Australian car industry is estimated at about $100 million
Applying solvent-based spray
paint to vehicles is the second-biggest environmental hazard of cars after
exhaust fumes. Only about 35 per cent of wet spray paint sticks to the
surface. A quarter of the paint solids end up in landfill, while the solvents
are released into the atmosphere as volatile organic compounds.
Dr Gutowski developed an eco-technology
that eliminates the need to use harmful and costly wet paint, and improves
the stickability' of electrostatic powder coating. The technology
uses solvent-free resin that allows powder coatings, paints and inks to
better adhere to plastics. The result is 100 per cent or waste free transfer
efficiency of a coating with no solvent and thus with no harm to health
or the environment.
"Professor Gutowski has
developed the first true zero-waste coating technologies that completely
eliminate solid and liquid waste, volatile organic chemicals and the use
of water in a range of industries that need to powder-coat products,"
said Frank Howarth, director of the Australian Museum. "This goes
well beyond car production and has the potential to transform manufacturing
industries that make painted plastic components for cars, aircraft, furniture
The technology is already in
use in the automotive industry in Australia and overseas where it can
be applied for coating both exterior and interior components of a vehicle.
It is also used by major international companies such as General Motors,
Ford and Boeing.
The technology is based on
engineering an interface on the surface of non-conductive material to
dramatically increase its surface conductivity and enhance coating adhesion.
This gives plastics the same transfer efficiencies as metal when using
electrostatic powder-coating. Surface modification technologies developed
by Professor Gutowski can be used with polymers, composites, ceramics
and organic materials such as wood and natural fibres.
The $10,000 Rio Tinto Eureka
Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation is awarded to an individual,
group or organisation for the commercialization of an innovation within
the past 10 years that has created significant value in Australia during