Innovations  

Smart Paint to Monitor Structural Integrity

Scientists develop low-cost paint to detect microscopic faults in large structures
 Smart paint could revolutionize structural monitoring
 
 

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow have developed an environmentally friendly, low-cost paint that is able to detect minute changes in structural integrity before large-scale damage occurs.

There are many forms of structural monitoring on the market today, but most are expensive, difficult to install and maintain, and often do not provide accurate or immediate results. With this relatively cheap innovation, however, engineers will be able to simply spray the smart paint onto any surface, and with electrodes keep track of any structural changes, no matter how small.

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The paint utilizes nanotechnology to detect these tiny changes in surface pressure and homogeneity, and is made from fly ash – a specialized recycled waste product – as well as highly-aligned carbon nanotubes, giving the paint a viscous, durable quality.

According to a post at ScienceDaily, the team working on the project says the paint will be revolutionary for wind turbines, bridges, mines, and many other applications. "The development of this smart paint technology could have far-reaching implications for the way we monitor the safety of large structures all over the world,” team leader Dr. Mohamed Saafi told ScienceDaily.

As the infrastructure crisis in America and elsewhere continues to grow, engineering crews will be able to use smart paint to help monitor existing infrastructure to better assess replacement schedules, as well as protect new investments well into the future.

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Image courtesy of the University of Strathclyde 

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