Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Using Color Changes for Safety

The amazing use of color change, inherent in chameleons, is now warning of dangerous chemical leaks in industries. Brilliant scientists developed a life-saving system for workers.

The amazing chameleon  has the marvelous ability to see the color patterns of their environment and can closely match these designs by changing the color patterns in their skins.
Recent advances in pigment technology have produced “smart pigments” that change color in response to specific changes in local environmental conditions. These emerging products are finding valuable applications at aerospace, power, and manufacturing, and oil/gas facilities.

A specialty tape containing proprietary color-changing pigments can be wrapped around pipe fittings, flanges, valves, and storage/transportation vessels and will immediately change to black at locations where hydrogen gas is detected. Under a grant from NASA, researchers at the University of Central Florida developed a color-changing (chemochromatic) tape starting with a powder patented by Japanese researchers that changed color in the presence of hydrogen. The critical improvements by the Florida researchers involved adjusting the chemistry so that the color change was immediate and visible to the naked eye (NASA Technology, Spin-Off, 2016). This research project received numerous awards including “NASA Commercial Invention of the Year” in 2016. The technology is licensed to HySense Technology which sells a product, Intellipigment tape, for detecting hydrogen gas leaks.
The advantage of this chemochromatic tape is obvious and can save time and lives. Previously, workers would use electrochemical and combustible gas sensors to identify the presence of possible leaks in areas where many hydrogen transfer lines were present, but locating the specific leak of the colorless, odorless gas was time-consuming. However, with the lines wrapped, the location of the leak would be immediately located by the worker since the tape at the site of the leak would change from a tan color to a black color.
A paint for use in coatings and packaging changes color when exposed to high temperatures – thus, delivering a visual warning to workers handling material or equipment with the potential to malfunction, explode, or cause burns when overheated. The coatings turn different shades of color from red to blue in response to a range of temperatures, beginning at 95 degree F. (New Jersey Institute of Technology, Press Release, 2014). Further, this material can indicate how long a substance has been exposure to high temperature high enough to comprise its functionality.
Article written by: Eric IsselĂ©e  

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