The PlasmaSolution project is funded as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) grants, and is conducted by Petrič and researcher Sebastian Dahle of the Clausthal University of Technology in Germany.
Petrič said that the project was a great success for Slovenia, as it is the first such project for which the University of Ljubljana had been granted funds to bring an international researcher to the country.
Dahle and Slovenian researchers will be creating a new method for developing wood coatings based on the use of cold plasma, which can be found in plasma TV displays. Plasma will not serve as a source of light, but for hardening of coatings and lacquers.
According to Petrič, it is expected that the new technology will allow for the preparation of the wood surface, application of lacquer and hardening of the coating into a protective film in a single step.
The method is similar to the standard hardening of coatings with UV light, which enables quick drying and excellent properties of the hardened coating, but the potential of plasma-based hardening is much broader, he added.
Compared with standard methods, the new method is cheaper and enables better properties of the coating and quicker hardening.
As Dahle said at the presentation, the first task is to make a device for plasma-based processing of wood surface, the second task is to study simple coatings, which would be improved by fillers or pigments, and the third task is to examine the findings in practice.
The new technology could be useful for wood products in environments with high humidity, such as bathrooms, and for composite materials. It could also be used for external coatings in wood construction, Petrič added.
According to him, the technology could be easily expanded to other surfaces, such as glass, metals, plastic and polymers.
Also involved in the project are Janez Kovač of the research Institute Jožef Stefan, and Certottic, an Italian institute for certification of optical products.