The destructive effect of environment and the corrosion induced degradation are the important problems which determine the service life of a vehicle or its components. The application of organic coatings is the most common and cost effective method of improving protection and durability of metallic and plastic structures. However the degradation processes develop faster after disruption of the protective barrier. Therefore an active protection based on “self-healing” of defects in coatings is necessary to provide long-term effect. Another indispensable issue for manufacturing of future vehicles is adhesive joining of structural components. Modern structural adhesives provide high strength of the adhesive joint up to excellent crash performance. The contact of adhesively joined structures with environment containing water and other aggressive species leads to the ageing and the degradation of adhesive joints
as in the case of coatings.
The main vision of the project MUST is development of new active multi-level protective systems for future vehicle materials. Products like self-healing coatings, adhesives and other composite materials will be based on “smart” release nanocontainers incorporated into the polymer matrix of current commercial products. The nanocontainer (or nanoreservoir) is a nanosized volume filled with an active substance confined in a porous core and/or a shell which prevents direct contact of the active agent with the adjacent environment. A multi-level self-healing approach will combine - within one system - several damage prevention and reparation mechanisms, which will be activated depending on type and intensity of the environmental impact.
The main objective of the project is the design, development, upscaling and application of novel multi-level protection systems like coatings and adhesives for future vehicles and their components to improve radically the long-term performance of metallic and polymeric substrates and structures. The utilisation of current well known polymer matrixes help to avoid extended development cycles; provide fast demonstration of emerging products, accelerating the replacement process of hazardous protective compounds currently in use. Due to this fact it is expected to achieve the development of at least 2 prototype protection systems for automotive application and one system for maritime and aerospace application that are environmentally benign with respect to strong future international health regulations and exceed the technical requirements of currently applied solutions with acceptable costs. In MUST, the coatings and the adhesives will be designed to ”measure” their internal state, reacting on degradation mechanisms like swelling, micro-cracking, and formation of pores in order to provide effective selfhealing properties as response to specific external impacts or shocks. The type and the level of active protection depends on the intensity of the external impact and on the internal state of the layer. Several types of substrates will be studied like metals, plastics and composites. Aluminium and magnesium alloys and steel will be in main focus.