EMU professor's research aims to replace toxic polyurethane coatings with safer alternatives for the U.S. military

The new technology will have the potential to significantly reduce environmental impact while improving the overall effect on human health and safety

YPSILANTI – Vijay Mannari, a professor of polymers and coatings at EMU, has been awarded a $529,000 grant to develop environmentally responsible, but high performance coatings for the U.S. military.


Vijay Mannari, professor of polymers and coatings in the EMU College of Technology

The Strategic Environmental Research Development Program (SERDP) advisory board approved Mannari's research proposal "Non-Isocyanate Polyurethane Platform for Sustainable and Advanced Rain Erosion Resistant Coatings.” The research program is expected to start this spring.

SERDP is a federal multi-agency organization comprised of the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the Environment Protection Agency who fund highly competitive proposals selected from among industries, academia and federal laboratories.

“This award not only recognizes our capabilities for advanced research and development in coatings, but it will also provide opportunities for me and our students to explore new frontiers in developing greener and safer coating materials,” said Mannari. “Our research aims at replacing these toxic coatings with safer alternatives, without compromising performance.

Currently, the military (Department of Defense) uses polyurethane coatings for many of its applications because they’re durable and perform well. However, the polymers use a group of chemical compounds called isocyanates, which are toxic and very hazardous for human health and safety. This is why there is a lot of interest across the globe, to limit or eliminate the use of isocyanates.

By leveraging alternative chemistry and customizing formulations, Mannari’s research will not only develop isocyanate-free polyurethane coatings, but these coatings will also have significantly lower VOC (volatile organic compounds), that will cure in a much shorter time compared to those currently being used in industry.

"This is a remarkable achievement for Eastern Michigan and for our Polymers and Coatings program," said Mohamed Qatu, dean of the College of Technology. "This reinforces our reputation as a national leader in research in this field."

Mannari joined the Polymers and Coatings Program at EMU in 2002, and has established a rigorous research program primarily focusing on environmentally friendly polymeric materials for development of advanced coatings. He has also received approximately $2.3 million in external funding over the past few years.  

For more information, visit the EMU polymers and coating technology program homepage.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


March 07, 2016

Written by:
Media Relations

Geoff Larcom