University of Victoria chemist develops 'super glue on steroids'
VICTORIA -- "I call it super glue on steroids."
That's how Jeremy Wulff describes a new substance he and his research team have developed at the University of Victoria – although it's not exactly glue (it's not even sticky). As Wulff demonstrated to CTV News, the material looks like a white crystalline solid.
The substance binds at a molecular level, making materials stronger. Wulff also calls it a crosslinker – a chemical bond that links one polymer chain to another.
Some future practical applications could include paint that never peels, waterproof coating that never needs to be resealed and jeans that don’t fade.
"What we were ultimately fairly successful with was developing a new type of cross linking that works on pretty much anything – anything except for Teflon," Wulff said.
"Because we've made this chemical bond, that chemical bond will effectively never break."
For the jeans example, Wulff explains that without the crosslinker bond, "the colour fades over time because that dye molecule's not actually chemically connected to the cotton."
Wulff also hopes the high-tech material could be used to make a low-quality plastic called polypropylene stronger, so containers made out of the material could be reused at least once, and reduce the amount of plastic that gets thrown into landfills.
"Less than one per cent of our polypropylene that we put into the blue box actually gets recycled," Wulff said.
"Our hope at least is that we could apply it in a recycling context to enable more of those waste materials to make it back into at least a second use."
The material isn't cheap: it costs about $200 per gram, and don't look for it in your local hardware store anytime soon. Wulff and his team are continuing to work with their partners at UBC Okanagan to figure out uses for their invention.