Self-healing paint stops military vehicles from rusting

A powder that could allow scratched or chipped paint to 'heal like human skin' is being investigated by researchers at the Office of Naval Research and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Aimed at protecting military vehicles against rust and corrosion, the powder, called polyfibroblast, consists of microscopic polymer spheres that contain an oily resin.

The powder can be added to regular paint primer to cover the entire body of a vehicle. When scratched, the polymer spheres erupt and form a water-reppelant coating that protects the exposed steel from the elements.

To test the powder, the researchers coated steel surfaces with the resin and kept them a chamber filled with salt fog. After six months, the surfaces remained rust-free.

While many self-healing paints are designed solely for cosmetic purposes, polyfibroblast is being engineered specifically for tactical vehicles used in harsh environments.

"We don't care if it's pretty," said Dr Jason Benkoski, lead researcher on the project. "We only care about preventing corrosion."

Laura Hopperton

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