The Australian automotive industry currently uses 9.86 million liters of paint per year. All solvents used in the process become airborne while 2.5 million liters of solids go to landfill. The new coating technology is estimated to have the potential to save the Australian automotive industry A$100 million a year.
Project leader, CSIRO's Voytek Gutowski, said the aim of the research was to overcome a long-term sustainability issue for the automotive, plastics and furniture industries by replacing wet paint finishes on heat-sensitive substances, such as plastic components, with zero-waste powder coating technology.
"The problem the team had to solve was that most powder coating particles only stick to surfaces that conduct electricity and the plastics used to make automotive components are not conductive," Gutowski said.
"We overcame this by coating the plastic components with a nanometer-thin layer of specialty multi-functional molecules, while, for its part, Dulux Powder Coatings developed new-generation powder coatings that can be cured at much lower temperatures and for much shorter times than traditional powders," he continued.
Due to its environmental benefits and performance the new coating technology was successfully commercialized in 2006-08.
The technology—the development of which was co-funded by Sustainability Victoria—also recently won Victoria's 2008 Premier's Sustainability Award.