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Fabrication of Novel Anti-Static Materials

Technology Overview

Contact electrification is the generation of static charge on solid surfaces when surfaces come into contact. The accumulation of static charge on surfaces can produce electrical discharge, and result in hazardous situations, such as the explosion of flammable gases, dusts, and organic liquids. It can also make processes less efficient in many industrial processes such as hinder effective heat transfer when charged particles adhere onto walls of vessels. Common methods of overcoming this problem involves increasing the conductivity of the material and adding anti-static agents. However, these methods may affect the properties of the bulk materials in undesirable ways and may not be compatible to all applications.

This technology describes a strategy of fabricating a general class of polymers that resist charging due to contact electrification. The new class of polymers have demonstrated to be non-charging when in contact with other surfaces, thus exhibiting anti-static properties inherently. 

Technology Features & Specifications

A new class of co-polymers that resist charging against a reference material has developed. This strategy can also be used to tune the charge on the polymeric surface generated by contact electrification by adjusting the monomer composition. Monomers are chosen from two class of raw materials based on their tendency to charge upon contact with other materials in the triboelectric series.  By copolymerising an appropriate amount of monomer that tend to charge positively with another monomer that tend to charge negatively, a surface that resists charging against another material can be fabricated. 

Once polymerized, the polymers are structurally homogeneous, and do not require additional treatment such as doping and other antistatic agents. These polymers are also insulators and can be fabricated to be inherently non-charging against contact with another material. Fundamentally, they do not require electron conduction to dissipate the static charge accumulated on surfaces. The feasibility of this technology has been demonstrated for two types of polymers, although a wide variety of polymers can potentially be used.

Potential Applications

  • Polymer processing: reduce generation of static charge or accumulation of static charges 
  • Piping materials: e.g. polymer lined pipes: prevent accumulation of charge during the transfer of non-conductive reagent/liquid. 
  • Packaging materials: prevent materials sticking to packaging due to static charges.  (e.g. nasal spray packaging)
  • Prevention of hazards in laboratories, manufacturing plants and other facilities   
  • New formulations for anti-static coatings

Market Trends and Opportunities

The total global electroactive materials market is projected to reach around US $4.4 Billion by 2020, with an annual growth of around 7% between 2015 and 2020. By 2020, it is expected that most of the plastics for electronic components, electric packaging, and clean room packaging will become antistatic.

Both United States and Asia Pacific lead the current global antistatic materials and coatings market demand. However, the market in USA is expected to mature in the next five years as end-user industries are well-established in this region. Strict governmental regulations, coupled with saturated end-user markets, have kept the market demand for antistatic coatings sluggish in Europe and North America. The Middle East is expected to be the fastest-growing market for antistatic coatings in the near future due to the large end production base of plastics in the region.

Customer Benefits

This is a cost effective way to eliminate static charges and potential benefits are:

  • Raise the safety level in production plant. 
  • Extend product portfolio ( e.g. non charging lined pipe). 
  • Improve productivity, or plant turn over time

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