Upton, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory is developing two coatings resistant to both corrosion and oxidation that, if implemented widely, may save U.S. aircraft and aluminum-smelting industries billions of dollars annually.
Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, funded solely by the aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Connecticut, Brookhaven is providing its expertise to develop an oxide coating for use on titanium alloys in gas turbine engines of commercial and military aircraft. It is expected to substantially lower manufacturing costs and improve engine performance.
Energy Research Company (ERCo), a small firm based in Staten Island, New York, that does energy and emissions-related research for industrial customers, is designing a recuperator - an apparatus that recovers heat energy from furnace exhaust. The recuperator will be used in an aluminum smelter, which recycles scrap aluminum. As part of a Department of Energy program that involves both ERCo and Brookhaven, the Laboratory is developing a composite coating to protect a nickel chromium alloy used in the recuperator from oxidation and corrosion.
Developing this new coating would provide a longer life span for the recuperator, which typically lasts only six months, and, if its use became widespread in the U.S., the aluminum recycling industry potentially could produce 7.6 million more tons of aluminum annually, worth about $2.7 billion.
Dr. Toshifumi Sugama is the principal researcher from Brookhaven involved in both technology transfer projects. To make these coatings, Dr. Sugama uses a process known as sol-gel-pyrolysis, which is less expensive and environmentally friendlier than current techniques. A sol, which is water containing solid particles of polymer, can be easily sprayed on to a metal surface and then converted to a durable ceramic coating when baked at about 400oF.
David Langiulli of Brookhaven's Office of Technology Transfer has facilitated the projects. Mr. Langiulli commented, "With shrinking federal funding for national laboratories, Brookhaven is encouraging the development of new funding sources from industry. BNL can be a valuable resource for the private sector, with its unique facilities and expertise in many areas, from physics and materials science to chemistry and biotechnology."
Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Brookhaven is operated by Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit research management organization, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.