The emerging world of "self-healing" materials

Chief executive Joe Giuliani said the initial applications brought to market would be in self-healing coatings used on marine assets such as ships, docks or oil and gas platforms to protect the metal beneath from corrosion.

Coatings were often damaged by impact when the structures were moved or being installed, or through collision with other bodies in the water.

Giuliani said the technology was based on a system whereby two different microcapsules were incorporated into the coating, one containing the self-healing component and the other containing a catalyst. When the coating was damaged, the microcapsules would rupture and the contents would react with each other, healing the damage to restore the integrity of the coating.

“When damage occurs, they go to the site of the damage and can actually heal underwater without the presence of oxygen,” he said.