The South East England Development Agency is providing researchers at Portsmouth University with a £40,000 grant that it hopes will allow them to develop a salt-resistant primer that would stop rising damp from ruining building projects.
Mel Richardson, Prof of Manufacturing Mechanical & Design Engineering at the university and colleague Dr Zhongyi Zhang won the ‘pocket grant’ with private company Safeguard Europe.
£23,000 of the money will be put towards paying a researcher at the university to attempt to develop such a primer over a period of 18-24 months. The remaining £17,000 will be used by Safeguard Europe to commercialise the research.
‘With this grant we are hoping to discover that nano-clay can be used with other materials to make surfaces salt-resistant. This might allow us to create an innovative nano-enhanced salt resistant primer for use on walls affected by rising damp,’ said Prof Richardson.
Once salt has leached into a wall most types of plaster cannot be used on the surface and the builder or plasterer has to put on a layer of hard sand cement. Sand cement is disliked by contractors, house builders and historic property groups for different reasons, according to Safeguard Europe R&D manager, Eric Rirsch. ‘All would prefer to use warmer, faster lightweight plasters but they can’t because these are unsuitable for salt-contaminated walls,’ he said.
The £40,000 grant has to be paid back if the resulting technology is a commercial success, but no funds have to be paid back if the idea fails to win customers.