The Portuguese institute develops R&D activities in energy production systems, energy efficiency, energy enalysis, hazards and environment and materials for energy. It has a network of accredited laboratories according to ISO/IEC 17025 on the areas of biofuels and biomass, solar energy, and materials and coatings. A field of work is durability of materials and anticorrosive protection assessment, and they have the capacity to evaluate the performance of anticorrosion coatings under relevant environmental and atmospheric parameters. Coatings preventing or slowing down the corrosion of metallic structures are an important segment of coatings market, their applications comprising a large range of end-user industries such as construction, transportation, energy, and others. Increasingly, anticorrosion coatings must have additional features, for example, specific optical properties. Nowadays anticorrosion coatings reached high standards of performance and very high durabilities even in environments of extreme atmospheric corrosivities. However, they heavily rely on non-renewable sources with high carbon footprint, are based on hazardous substances with environmental and human health impact and their disposal is a serious non resolved environmental problem. Academia, companies and funding entities are well aware of the urgency of changing to a new status of sustainable and safer coatings and a lot of work pursuing these objectives has been done. Coatings based on natural renewable sources although being not an entirely new concept, are emerging. However, to the development of anticorrosion bio-based coatings with similar performance to the current ones and similar cost, from sources not competing with the food chain, having low carbon footprint and being recyclable a long way of research is still ahead. An important component in the development process of coatings is testing the performance of the various solutions prepared at the laboratory scale comparatively with a reference coating for screening and selecting the most promising ones. Also the performance of the developed final products must be evaluated against reference coatings through a set of well-defined tests specified in international standards. For that end accelerated ageing tests are a valuable mean to obtain results in a relatively short period of time. Since not all the stress factors and weathering variables can be reproduced in accelerated tests, outdoor exposure, although taking more time, is the most reliable way of predicting the behavior of the coatings outdoors being essential in a complete scheme of tests of a new coating.
The R&D institute would like to cooperate with companies, research centres and universities with expertise in binder synthesis from bio-based sources and anticorrosion coatings formulation having the means to prepare coatings to be tested aiming at the development of sustainable bio-based coatings through H2020 or other financing program. The R&D institute has equipment to carry out accelerated ageing tests for a fast evaluation of the susceptibility of the coatings to environmental stress factors such as temperature, humidity, solar radiation and contaminants (salt spray, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides).The institute has also two outdoor testing sites for evaluating the coatings on real world weathering tests, with monitorisation of temperature, humidity, wetness time, radiation, rain and atmospheric chloride ions, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The sites, differing in corrosivity (urban site with low-medium corrosivity and marine/industrial site in the southern Europe Atlantic coast with very high-extreme corrosivity) allow to test coatings with different performance requirements. The institute has the means to evaluate the effects of the ageing tests through mechanical, physical and chemical characterisation of the coatings thus contributing to the identification of failure causes and to set the way for the necessary improvement.