Author: Jolanta Skwaradowska     Published At: 28.01.2022

Projects of Silesian University of Technology researchers in OPUSLAP competition

Two projects of scientists from the Silesian University of Technology have received funding in the OPUS 20 + LAP competition of the National Science Centre. The first one is "Metal encapsulation processes in biocarbon", the second project is "Studies on the effect of self-healing organic-inorganic sol-gel layers on corrosion resistance and fatigue of steel in the VHCF range". 

For the "Metal encapsulation processes in biocarbon" research the Silesian University of Technology, which is the leader of the project, received PLN 1 756 800. Its manager at the Silesian University of Technology is Prof. Andrzej Szlęk from the Faculty of Energy and Environmental Engineering. The partners are: Vienna University of Technology and University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

The main objective of the project will be to extend the knowledge necessary to combine the recovery of contaminated land with the production of electricity and negative CO2 emissions. This knowledge can contribute to reducing the problem of food availability and climate change. Many countries in the world, including the EU, have declared to achieve climate neutrality within the next few decades. Achieving this goal requires replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources, not only in the area of electricity and heat generation, but also in many industrial processes.

Among renewable sources, biomass is of particular importance. Its use is currently less economically beneficial compared to the use of photovoltaic cells or wind turbines, but it allows to achieve not only zero but also negative carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, when using biomass it must be taken into account whether it will not compete with food crops.

The aim of the project is to gain knowledge on thermochemical transformations of biomass leading to the production of environmentally neutral biocarbon containing heavy metal compounds originally contained in biomass.

Researches on this issue will last for 4 years.

The second project, which received funding from the OPUS 20 + LAP competition, is the Studies on the effect of self-healing organic-inorganic sol-gel layers on corrosion resistance and fatigue of steel in the VHCF range". The project leader is the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, while partners will be the Silesian University of Technology and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. The manager of the project is Justyna Krzak, PhD, from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Wrocław University of Science and Technology. From the Silesian University of Technology side the project is lead by Prof. Wojciech Simka, Faculty of Chemistry while the TU Kaiserslautern side is lead by Dr. Marek Smaga.

The aim of the research is to design self-healing inorganic-organic coatings on steel to protect it against corrosion phenomena. Until 2007, chromium-based materials were one of the most effective solutions in the fight against corrosion. However, due to their toxic effects on the environment, these materials were withdrawn from use.

A good way to improve the anti-corrosion and mechanical properties of a surface is to use the sol-gel method. The interest in sol-gel coatings results from the relatively simple method of their production, but also from the fact that chemical bonds between the coating and the protected surface are formed, which, to a large extent, prevents them from peeling off. Bearing in mind the complexity of the processes destroying anti-corrosion coatings, the main objective of the project is to obtain corrosion protection for carbon steel by applying active, submicron sol-gel coatings based on silica.

The research planned in the project will allow to find out how the structural properties of the obtained coating materials influence the protective and mechanical properties. Research results obtained in the project will be published in journals from the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) list, but more importantly, they will allow to establish cooperation with economic partners, and thus, after the development of technology, to implement them in business activities.

The Silesian University of Technology received PLN 460,458 for this research and the project will run until December 2024.

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