If you look around you, you will always find an object close to you, which is coated. Take this charger for instance. We apply coatings to make materials visually more appealing or simply to protect them. Now one way to obtain a very durable and protective layer, is to apply crosslinked powder coating. That’s a very strong and sturdy coating, which is built out of molecules that are tightly connected with each other, by forming a crosslinked network. Think for instance of the rim of a car. But to make the molecules connect with each other, high temperatures are required. And that can be a problem. If you want to coat for instance plastic or wood with this technique, it would simply melt, or burn away. To be able to coat these materials as well, we have to therefore decrease the crosslinking temperature. And that’s possible by introducing catalysts. Catalysts can be small molecules, which lower the energy needed to perform a reaction, or enable new reaction pathways. But even catalysts can be more efficient. Therefore, the aim of my research is to understand how transformations like a crosslinking process are more efficiently catalysed. And we do this by studying the underlying reaction. Because if you know the details of a chemical reaction and how a catalyst structure works for it, it is possible to tune the structure to make the process run faster and to allow for more control over the reaction. With all of that knowledge, we can then develop more powerful and also more sustainable catalysts. And this helps us to coat materials such as wood and saves energy for the environment during the process.

ARC CBBC, University of Groningen

We coat things to protect them. Making solid cross-linked coatings requires high temperatures. But if you heat plastic or wood that much, it burns. Tizian Ramspoth is on a quest to find out how we can still coat these kinds of materials.

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