Two wheels

Unraveling the mysteries of how paint works

SusCoRD project aims to slow down corrosion

Imagine a world without paint. How long would airplanes, cars, wind turbines and bridges last without it?

It’s a question we’re always asking, so that we can make our products perform even better for longer. That’s why learning more about how paint works is at the heart of the Sustainable Coatings by Rational Design project (SusCoRD), which we’ve co-funded with the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The five-year SusCoRD project, launched back in 2018, has seen AkzoNobel join forces with the Universities of Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool, which are renowned for their expertise in corrosion science, materials characterization, polymer science and machine learning.

Claudio Di Lullo, Manager of AkzoNobel’s Substrate Protection Expertise Center, explains how the collaboration started: “About 12 years ago, we set up a partnership with Manchester University because we recognize that corrosion is one of the big challenges we have to face. We make paint, we develop paint. We understand the practical applications and what’s needed to make it perform.

“What the university brings is the ability to characterize, analyze and understand some of the mechanisms. They can do deeper science that’s an essential part of understanding what’s going on. We get fresh insights that will help us to develop the next generation of paint.”

The multi-disciplinary SusCoRD project can be split into two key areas:

  • Analysis of the components of the coating – to explore the role that binding properties and the adhesion between the coating and substrate play in corrosion
  • The use of digital technology – machine learning, predictive approaches, modeling and simulation – to find ways to speed up the process of developing new paints and coatings


Adds Manchester University’s Professor Stuart Lyon: “The work we’ve done so far has involved using all these analytical tools to explore the science behind how paint works and to create opportunities to make paints differently. The next stage is to use that information to develop tools that make paint in different ways, using different materials, which are perhaps more sustainable – which last longer, which create assets that have a much greater lifetime.”

David Williams, AkzoNobel’s Chief Innovation Officer, continues: “SusCoRD focuses on one of our four innovation drivers – asset protection – and that’s why the project’s such a good fit for us. Protecting surfaces and products is a priority for our customers, so we’re always striving to deliver products and services that exceed their high expectations when it comes to longevity, chemical resistance and the accurate prediction of maintenance cycles.”

SusCoRD is due to come to an end later this year. However, follow-up Prosperity Partnership funding is being sought to test hypotheses – and further unravel the mysteries of how paint prevents corrosion.

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