Enabling Electrostatic Painting of Automotive Polymers with Low Cost Carbon Nanofibers

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Applied Sciences, Inc.
141 W. Xenia Ave. Array
Cedarville, OH 45314
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Polymer composites are widely used for automotive body panels to save weight, increase fuel efficiency, and eliminate corrosion. However, unlike metals, structural polymers are not electrically conductive; thus, they are not amenable to the industry standard technique of electrostatic spray painting (ESP). Current methods for adapting polymers to ESP pose serious environmental and economic challenges. Polymers must be coated with a conductive primer requiring the use of environmentally detrimental solvents (volatile organic compounds, or VOCs). There are significant capital and operating costs associated with handling and disposal of the primer and its by-products. Automotive manufacturers must either maintain two separate paint lines - one for metals and one for polymers - or use inefficient off-line painting. This is an expensive proposition, given that automotive paint lines cost as much as $400 million. A simple, solvent-free method is needed to endow polymers with sufficient electrical conductivity to be painted in the same manner as metals.