Self-Cleaning Smart Surfaces

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Group Design Project
Investigating cheap, safe and accessible methods of depositing hydrophobic and hydrophilic self-cleaning coatings on different substrate materials
Group Members
Ana Bentabol Amador, Saufi Baharudin, Katherine Brewer, Shafeequah Muhammed, Aathira K Nair, Vishal Pendse

Supervisors
Dr. Zheng Jiang, Dr. Shuncai Wang

Every year, billions of pounds in the UK alone are spent on products to clean the exteriors of buildings, windows and other construction materials. This creates a large economic and environmental cost to domestic and commercial entities. The aim of this project was to ease this burden by investigating three different cheap, safe and accessible coating methods.

Self-cleaning coatings can be hydrophobic or hydrophilic. Hydrophobic coatings repel water, which form droplets that roll off the surface, taking contaminants with them. Hydrophilic coatings cause water to spread uniformly on them, forming a layer which collects contaminants, which can be washed off.
Anodisation is an electrolytic method of depositing corrosion resistant coatings onto conducting substrates. In this process, a passivating layer is coated onto the anode of an electrical circuit. This method was used to deposit Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) coatings onto Titanium substrates, which were hydrophilic in nature.

Electrochemical Codeposition is another electrolytic method used to deposit coatings from electrolyte solutions onto cathodes of electrical circuits. This process was used to deposit TiO2 onto mild steel substrates, using a Ni-Watt’s bath as an electrolyte.
In order to increase cost effectiveness and eliminate the disadvantage of only being able to coat electrically conductive substrates, a dip coater was built. Dip coating is the process of dipping a substrate into a solution which deposits onto it. The dip coater built was cheap and safe, capable of coating both hydrophobic and hydrophilic coatings.

The coatings obtained in this study exhibited self-cleaning properties, indicating that these methods could be used in the future to coat a variety of large substrates with complex geometries to be used in industrial and commercial applications. This would decrease the cost of cleaning and also reduce the detrimental environmental effects of chemical cleaning products.

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