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Hydrophobic Nanocoating vs. Household Objects

By Wesley Fenlon

Ars Technica checks out the hydrophobic capabilities of Ultra-Ever Dry.

Hydrophobic nano-coatings like Liquipel have the potential to be the Next Big Thing for electronics. We were impressed with Liquipel at CES 2013. Who wouldn't want a smartphone impervious to the threats of rain and an accidental drop in the ocean (or a toilet)? While Liquipel is focused on electronics, there are other companies selling waterproof nanocoatings for other purposes. Like--just for example--ketchup resistance.

Ars Technica took up the challenge of testing out a nanocoating called Ultra-Ever Dry by exposing it to a battery of tests. They applied the coating to a toilet bowl, sheet of glass, concrete driveway, clothing, and, of course, a slip-and-slide. Their experiments revealed some surprising results. In some cases, the Ultra-Ever Dry worked just as well as it appears to in this commercial, which parades waterproof object after waterproof object across the screen.

But Ars' tests also showed that the coating, which requires a two layer application process, isn't as transparent or safe as it first appears. "The Ultra-Ever Dry coatings in their liquid state are based on xylene (bottom coat) and acetone (top coat) and emit powerful amounts of fumes," writes Ars' Lee Hutchinson. The Ultra-Ever Dry coating itself is not transparent; it leaves a whitish haze on things when applied...Applying the coatings to anything inside a house or apartment is absolutely out of the question. Even outdoors, coming anywhere near the stuff requires nitrile gloves and a P100-rated respirator fitted with organic vapor filters."

Hutchinson does note that better equipment, like an air compressor, could apply the coating more evenly, producing less cloudy results. But it's still not a perfectly transparent solution. For some purposes, that's okay, and each of the video tests Ars shot are interesting. Make sure to check out the slip-and-slide video, which answers an important question: Which wins out, hydrophobia or the rough, textured surface of the Ultra-Every Dry coating?