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Lower Hutt Companies Team up to Produce Hi-Tech Roof Paint

Lower Hutt Companies Team up to Produce Hi-Tech Roof Paint

GNS Science and Resene Paints have teamed up to develop a hi-tech roof paint containing nano-particles that will be more effective than existing coating products at reflecting summer heat and keeping buildings cooler in summer.

The joint project will develop a new low-cost way of producing a powder containing metal oxide nanoparticles that can be readily incorporated with existing paint manufacturing methods. Once the technology is perfected for roof coatings, it is likely to be available for other applications such as marine and automotive coating products, said project leader John Kennedy of GNS Science.

The project has received Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment funding of $450,000-a-year for two years to help establish New Zealand as a leader in ‘cool coating technology’. Resene is contributing $100,000 in ‘in-kind’ support.

Infra-red reflective coatings are currently available but they are expensive, only partly effective, and come in only a small colour range.

“The global market for coloured coatings with infra-red reflective pigments is valued at $250 million-a-year and it is growing at about 12 percent annually,” Dr Kennedy said.

“Improvements in reflectance will translate into much greater value for consumers due to reduced energy bills, lower maintenance and replacements costs, plus a larger colour range.”

GNS Science has designed and built a prototype chamber that produces the reflective powder containing metallic oxide nano-particles. Quantities produced are small, but enough to allow continued development of the technology.

Once the process is perfected it would be easy to scale up production to supply commercial quantities of the powder, Dr Kennedy said.

“Producing the power is the easy part. The main focus of our research at present is perfecting a chemical process that will modify the powder so it mixes evenly in the paint and will result in a coating that reflects evenly across an entire surface.”

When the powder is produced in a specially patented process at GNS Science, the nano-particles occur crystalline form, with the atoms arranged in a firmly bound lattice structure.

Dr Kennedy and his team are currently developing a chemical process that will separate the particles so they disperse evenly through the paint.

Only a small amount of the metallic oxide powder – about 1 percent by volume – was needed to significantly enhance the infra-red reflectivity of a paint, he said.

“We believe we will be able to selectively tune the reflective properties of paint by controlling the size and physical characteristics of the nano-particles.

“Once developed and commercialised, these enhanced coatings will enable New Zealand paint manufacturers to increase their exports of high-technology products.

“Users of these products will be able to save money in reduced maintenance costs and enjoy more comfortable living and working environments.”

It was hoped trials of the new production process would be completed by late 2014 and commercial production could start as early as 2015.

The nanotechnology group at Crown-owned research company GNS Science has established a strong track record with innovative developments to assist high-value manufacturing industries.

Other organisations working with GNS Science on this project are Industrial Research Limited and the University of Canterbury.


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