New self-repairing plastic corrosion protection


ETH Zurich has developed a new plastic capable of protecting materials used in all kinds of structures against corrosion.

Bridges, skyscrapers, ships, cars, planes… everything built by humans will sooner or later decays and be damaged by corrosion. All countries together invest approximately 3.5% of global gross domestic -equivalent to 4.000 billion dollars- in the fight against corrosion.

ETH Zurich researchers led by Markus Niederberg and Walter Caseri from the Laboratory for Multifunctional Materials have developed a material that protects and evades such damages. This new solution is Poly(phenylene methylene), or PPN for set of initials. A new plastic capable of protecting materials from corrosion and repairing all types of structures.


When mixed as paint and heated, this anti-corrosive material can be sprayed onto a surface and it solidifies. The polymer indicates the existence of holes and cracks in the protective layer by no emitting fluorescence.

Laboratory tests revealed that PPM coating protects metals, especially aluminium, against corrosion. Although the polymer can be applied in layers up to ten times thinner than other conventional protectants, it is durable.

This new material repairs any damage without any external intervention. Achieving self-repair usually requires chemical additives that over the time move into the polymer and are released into the environment. This is not the case with PPM which, according to the researchers, needs no additives, but is not completely harmless to the environment.

PPM is also more sustainable than previous corrosion protection materials because it can be almost completely disposed of and recycled at the end of the product's life. While some polymeric material is lost in the process, the recycling rate is very high at 95 per cent. In their tests, the researchers were able to reuse it five times.

In this project, the ETH researchers worked with partner universities in Spain, Austria and Italy as well as in the UK.



New corrosion protection that repairs itself | ETHZ Zürich. Retrieved February 21, 2023 from

Nuevo protector plástico contra la corrosión que se auto-repara| Europapress. Recuperado el 21 de febrero de 2023 de

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