Model-based analysis of photoinitiated coating degradation under artificial exposure conditions

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Coating degradation mechanisms of thermoset coatings exposed to ultraviolet radiation and humidity at constant temperature are investigated. The essential processes, photoinitiated oxidation reactions, intrafilm oxygen permeability, water absorption and diffusion, reduction of crosslink density, and development of a thin surface oxidation zone are quantified and a mathematical model for degrading coatings developed. Front-tracking techniques are used to determine the rate of movement of the oxidation and ablation fronts, the positions of which define the extension of the surface oxidation zone. Three previous and independent experimental investigations with two-component, densely crosslinked, epoxy–amine model coatings were selected for verification of the mathematical model. Simulations can match and explain transient mass loss and coating thickness reduction data and are in agreement with infrared measurements of carbonyl groups formed in the surface zone. The thickness of the stable surface oxidation zone, which is established after an initial ablation lag time, is estimated by the model to 0.5–2 μm in good agreement with previous measurements. Simulated concentration profiles of active groups, oxygen, and radicals in the stable surface oxidation zone are presented and analyzed. The mathematical model can be used for obtaining a quantitative insight into the degradation of thermoset coatings and has potential, after further development, to complete commercial coatings and dynamic exposure conditions, to become a supplementing tool for predicting in-service coating behavior based on accelerated laboratory measurements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Coatings Technology and Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)375-398
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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Copyright The Author 2011. This article is published with open access at


  • Exterior durability
  • Materials
  • Weathering stress
  • Chain scission
  • Accelerated testing
  • Network degradation


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