Modification of Algae Exoskeletons for Controlled Release of Corrosion Inhibitors

The aerospace industry, together with several other sectors, depends highly on coatings to provide products with extended lifetime and aesthetics. A complete coating system typically consists of a pretreatment of the metal surface for enhanced adhesion, a primer providing active protection against corrosion, and finally a topcoat that serves as aesthetics and main barrier against the environment. Over the last decades much interest is focused on developing new strategies and technologies for corrosion protection. This is mainly caused by restrictions on hazardous substances, limit the use of highly efficient but toxic and carcinogenic hexavalent chromium as corrosion inhibitor compounds. A promising alternative is the use of different, less harmful, corrosion inhibitors stored inside delivery carriers that account for reduced unwanted inhibitor-coating side reactions and that enable ‘on-demand’ release. In previous work of our group the use of micron sized nanoporous siliceous diatom algae exoskeletons for inhibitor storage and sustained corrosion protection of coated aluminium structures upon damage has been explored. While the concept allows for local inhibitor loading and limits the interaction between the inhibitor and the coating, on-demand release has not yet been established.


The graduation project kicks off with a literature study to become acquainted in the field of corrosion protection and currently used methods on controlled release from carrier systems. The goal of this graduation project is to explore this possibility and incorporate chemical modifications on these algae exoskeletons to trigger the release of inhibitors when a damage or corrosion process starts to occur, and can theoretically result in much more efficient anti-corrosive coatings. Based on the findings, it will be your task to adapt, apply and test one or several of these release systems onto the diatom exoskeletons, and characterize their inhibitor release behavior trough available techniques (e.g. SEM-EDS, UV/VIS, μ-FTIR, Raman Spectroscopy, and ICP). Finally, these release systems will be incorporated in an actual coating system and their corrosion protection will be evaluated as well.

We are looking for

We look for a student that is interested working on a multidisciplinary project ranging from pure chemistry for the modification and characterization of the algae exoskeletons, to the understanding of inhibitor transport phenomena, all the way to the development and evaluation of functional coating systems. As part of the project, you will be trained in the fields you are unfamiliar with and get the opportunity to learn and develop new experimental techniques that will broaden your horizon.

We are offering

The position is offered at Novel Aerospace Materials group (NovAM) at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering. The NovAM group is truly international in composition and strives to be world leading in the fields of selected expertise; self-healing materials, smart composites and coatings, nano-structured polymers and metals by design. In our research we explore unconventional approaches, focus on fundamental concepts but also develop successful concepts to a level suitable for absorption by the industry. We have a strong track record in preparing our students for a further career in academic or industrial research.  

Contact and more information

If you are interested or would like to have more information?
Leave your information here or give me a call (+31 6 45822094).