Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 can survive on plastics for up to three days - longer than on metals or cardboard. This is a challenge for the aviation industry, as plastics are used in a variety of components to reduce the weight of aircraft to make them more efficient and reduce their carbon footprint. Regular cleaning - even with disinfectants - only helps for a short time. "The solution would be to give certain coatings antimicrobial and virucidal properties. Three approaches have already been tested for bacteria: Coatings that gradually release antibacterial substances but have a limited lifespan; bacteriostatic coatings that prevent bacteria from adhering and limit their multiplication; and finally bactericidal coatings that kill bacteria by contact", explains Alain Denoirjean, CNRS/HDR research director at the IRCER (Institut de Recherche sur les Céramiques) research institute and head of the RELIANT international research programme, in which Oerlikon Balzers participates.
The RELIANT project (Research on Metal Coatings to Protect Plastic Surfaces from SARS-CoV-2 Contamination) is developing a durable virucidal and antibacterial solution to protect plastics used in aircraft. It is an interdisciplinary project and a multi-year programme carried out by the joint research laboratory "PROTHEIS" set up by the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), the University of Limoges, Safran (a major player in the aerospace and defence sectors) and Oerlikon, a global technology group for the development of materials equipment and surfaces. One of the main focuses of RELIANT will be biological tests on real COVID-19 viruses, incorporating the expertise of the P3 security laboratory of the University Hospital and the University of Limoges. Following the development and successful validation of the coating in the test laboratories, it can also be used in many other industries in which Oerlikon Balzers is active, including the automotive industry, the medical industry and the plastics and food industries.