VIPCOAT platform launched to make coating industry innovative, sustainable and green

Monday, May 10, 2021 — Vrije Universiteit Brussel is one of 12 partners in seven countries involved in the new VIPCOAT project, which was launched on 1 May under the coordination of Germany’s Helmholtz Center Hereon. Its aim is to develop corrosion protection technologies more quickly and sustainably. The European Union is funding this project for five years within the framework of the Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) programme. The VUB research group SURF and VUB spin-off Elsyca are important partners in this project. Prof Herman Terryn: "VUB and Elsyca are jointly responsible for the development of an innovative modelling tool, which will be able to predict corrosion protection in 3D. This tool can be used for the development of new corrosion protection systems. The VIPCOAT project is in line with VUB’s materials research programme, in which the lifespan of materials is studied through modelling at various scales."

Coatings or protective layers can be found everywhere. Just think of coatings to make materials such as concrete, steel and wood fire-resistant, to give aircraft, cars and other metal objects a longer life, to make work surfaces easier to clean or to make surfaces less slippery. The search for newer, better coatings is a long and expensive process and the coatings industry is not the greenest or most sustainable of industries.

Open access for all sectors

The EU project VIPCOAT aims to change this. It will be an open innovation platform for engineers developing materials for coatings and will initially focus on the aerospace industry. In the future, it will be part of the European Materials Modelling Ontology, enabling a transfer to other industries. The intention is that the platform can then be consulted by various actors such as research, political or public sectors. It will serve as a database for experimental, industry-relevant and modelling data, as scientific infrastructure and as a simulation tool. Artificial intelligence and physics-based modelling are combined to optimise the production of industry-relevant corrosion-protective coatings.

Transition to green and sustainable coatings

The VIPCOAT platform is committed to sustainability and actively seeks to reduce energy consumption, production steps and the use of fossil fuels. With advanced modelling, as developed by VUB and Elsyca, VIPCOAT aims to stimulate the transition to green, cheap and efficient coatings that prevent corrosion. Terryn: "With this philosophy, the platform aims to guarantee an effective transfer between science and social applications. So VIPCOAT has been developed not only to assist the industry in accelerating the development of innovative corrosion protection technologies and make them economically interesting, but also, and especially, to make this branch of industry more sustainable and greener."