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New INEGI patent uses cork to reinforce adhesives used in automotive components

14 July 2020
The technology developed at INEGI to manufacture graduated adhesive joints, a more resistant glue thanks to the integration of magnetic particles, recently saw its patent title granted in Europe and the United States.

The invention consists of advanced equipment that integrates magnetized cork microparticles inside the adhesive, in order to manipulate the mechanical and electrical properties of specific places when moving the particles within the material. Both the method of particle magnetization and the equipment that performs the action are unprecedented innovations and result in stronger connections between components.

Innovation benefits the automotive industry

As explained by Ana Queirós, responsible for the project at INEGI and one of the inventors of the device, adhesive bonding is an increasingly used technology, with particular disruptive potential in the automotive sector due to its adaptability and ability to safely unite a wide variety of materials. However, it has vulnerabilities such as "stress distribution, which, because it is concentrated at the ends of the overlap, results in premature failure of the joints”.

It was in order to overcome this problem that a team of researchers from INEGI developed this equipment and the respective method to manufacture adhesive joints with mechanical properties that vary gradually over the overlap. "Using magnetized micro or nano-particles, we were able to distribute them non-uniformly throughout the joint, thus reducing stress concentrations and increasing their resistance".

The method, points out Ana Queirós, "means working with much smaller areas, considerably reducing the weight of the structure, which is a key factor in the automotive sector”.

The technique for magnetizing cork was also patented

The process that magnetizes cork dust was developed as part of a project coordinated by INEGI, in collaboration with Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad Pontificia Comillas. The process, created with the collaboration of the Institute's team, also resulted in a patent, granted in 2017.

In addition to the application in the field of adhesives for automotive components, magnetized cork may come to be used to remove polluting particles from water. A hypothesis that is being explored by the partners of the Carlos III University of Madrid.

The MagAdhesive project - Adhesive joints graduated with an application of cork microparticles is financed by the ERDF, under the Compete 2020 and Portugal 2020 programs, and by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).