27 October 2003
Academic driven to make all cars green
A BIRMINGHAM based academic has been awarded €300,000 to study water-based paint that aims to replace the solvent-based paints currently used in cars.
Aston University's Dr Sahar Al-Malaika has teamed up with luxury carmakers Daimler-Benz and Volvo in a bid to evaluate an environmentally-friendly paint that could eventually be used by all carmakers.
The new paint's chief advantage over those currently being used is that it will not produce any of the harmful gases emitted in their manufacture.
'Its uses will be universal,' said Aston's polymer expert. 'Once developed and mass-produced it will surely see the end of environmentally-unfriendly paints, not just for cars but for everything for which we're now using solvents.'
Dr Al-Malaika has installed a �100,000 weather-ometer (an accelerated weathering system) in her lab to help with her research. It simulates real weather conditions in a controlled environment in a fraction of the time it takes to monitor performance characteristics of paint under normal, real-time conditions.
'The weather-ometer complements rather than replaces real weather testing,' Dr Al Maliaka explains. 'We're running the two types of testing in tandem for a fuller understanding of how materials react in different weathering conditions.
'So, while the weather-ometer produces simulated data we can work with today,' she continued, 'it is a crucial aid to studying the effects of real weather on material performance over 20 or 25 years.'
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Note for editors:
Dr Al-Malaika is part of the Innovative Measurement in Quality Assessment of Automotive Coatings consortium which has partners throughout Europe. The other members are: Swedish National Testing Institute; Daimler-Chrysler, Germany; Volvo, Sweden; Atlas MTT, Germany; Clariant, France; BYK Chemie, Germany; the Fraunhofer Institute, Germany and ppG, Germany.
Dr Al-Malaika's 300,000 euro grant is part of the 2.5million euro EU funding awarded for this project. Other members of the consortium make a 50 per cent contribution to the project's overall costs.