The Banksia Eco-Innovation Award recognised the new ‘dry’ coating’s ability to save energy and almost eliminate harmful emissions and solid wastes produced as a result of the automotive industry’s historical reliance on ‘wet’ spray-painting technologies.
The Australian automotive industry currently uses 9.86m litres of paints per year. All solvents used in the process become airborne while 2.5m litres of solids go to landfill.
Dr Voytek Gutowski of CSIRO, said: ‘The problem the team had to solve was that most powder coating particles only stick to surfaces that conduct electricity and the plastics used to make automotive components are not conductive.
‘We overcame this by coating the plastic components with a nanometre-thin layer of specialty multifunctional molecules.’
For its part, Dulux Powder Coatings developed new powder coatings that can be cured at much lower temperatures and for much shorter times than traditional powders.
The new coating technology was successfully commercialised between 2006 and 2008 and is estimated to have the potential to save the Australian automotive industry $100m a year.
The technology – the development of which was co-funded by Sustainability Victoria – also recently won Victoria’s 2008 Premier’s Sustainability Award.