To advance sustainable technologies, we partner with customers, academic institutions and other public and private entities. Here are some highlights of our current work.

Pulling water from air

Water vapor is always present in the air. Efficiently condensing this vapor to produce freshwater in even the driest places on Earth is the basis of a PPG research project funded by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

Our researchers are working to develop coatings that promote condensation but aren’t too insulating that they interfere with the heat transfer that today’s water-harvesting equipment requires. Such coatings would enable the production of freshwater anywhere on earth, including water-scarce areas. They also would improve the energy efficiency of other equipment that condenses water, such as air conditioners.

Project evaluates plant-based polymers

In partnership with Drexel and Rowan universities and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, we are exploring the use of plant-based starting materials rather than traditional petroleum-based sources to make polymers used in coatings, adhesives and composites.

The universities will synthesize the high-performance polymers and develop a model that predicts what properties can be obtained for a variety of bio-based materials. Our role is to evaluate the performance of the polymers in military-relevant applications.

Bio-based materials not only offer significant environmental benefits over petrochemical feedstock, they also provide performance properties not readily obtained from traditional sources.


Mcity partnership supports coatings development for autonomous vehicles

Specialized coatings will play an integral role in safe and reliable driverless vehicles. To support our development of these coatings, we are a member of the University of Michigan’s Mcity, which is a public-private partnership to improve transportation safety, sustainability and accessibility.

As a partner, we have access to Mcity’s world-renowned autonomous vehicle facilities and research. This supports our development and testing of exterior coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, as well as easy-to-clean coatings that help prevent obstruction of autonomous vehicle sensors.

Adhesive modeling enables vehicle lightweighting

As the military and automobile manufactures increasingly use lightweight materials in their vehicles for fuel efficiency, new structural adhesives are needed to hold these mixed materials together. The military needs to know how these adhesives would perform in a blast event, while automakers are focused on performance in a crash.

With funding from TARDEC, we are developing and validating models that predict the properties of structural adhesives under high strain rates. These models will help researchers more quickly develop structural adhesives to meet both military and automaker needs.

Infrastructure repair simplified

With funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are developing more effective and potentially simpler metal treatment and coatings systems to extend infrastructure life while complying with all environmental regulations.

The current process to repaint aging structures, such metal bridges and storage tanks, typically involves four steps – grit blasting followed by the application of three specialized coatings. Our research will focus on shrinking the process to two or three steps by studying what happens at the interfaces between the layers to prevent corrosion and ensure strong adhesion.


Expanding military use of environmentally friendly powder coatings

We are researching methods to apply high-performance powder coating systems in the field and also developing a best practices guide for the U.S. Army to enable broader use of powder coatings in the military. The project is funded by TARDEC.

Powder coatings are environmentally friendly. They have zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and overspray powder can be collected and recycled. One drawback is that objects sprayed with powder coatings typically need to be baked in an oven for the coating to melt and cure. For this project, we will investigate using equipment that melts the powder as it is being sprayed, enabling coatings to be applied in the field or on very large objects that can’t be baked.

Partnership to commercialize high-energy anode materials

In partnership with SiNode Systems, we are helping accelerate the commercialization of high-energy anode materials for advanced battery applications in electric vehicles. The project will enable the rapid development and demonstration of anode materials that will store more energy than conventional lithium-ion battery materials, enabling electric vehicles to travel farther on a single charge or to have a lighter-weight battery.

The project for the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC) is focused on improving the stability and scalability of SiNode’s anode materials to meet or exceed USABC targets for a battery’s active materials, which store the energy. Raymor Industries will provide graphene—a nanoscale-thin layer of pure carbon that is required for the high-energy anode materials—to PPG, and we will then prepare the material for SiNode. We also will help both Raymor and SiNode scale up their manufacturing processes to production volumes to support the project.