Plasma Processes for Pretreatment of Metal Surfaces

EPA Contract Number: 68D70056
Title: Plasma Processes for Pretreatment of Metal Surfaces
Investigators: Dillingham, R. Giles
Small Business: Brighton Technologies Group Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1997 through September 1, 1999
Project Amount: $224,654
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1997) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Most applications of metals require that the surface be modified, pretreated, or finished for corrosion protection, appearance, or adhesive bond strength and durability. The use of adhesively bonded structures in automotive and aircraft design is increasing rapidly. Because surface processing techniques - such as anodizing, electroplating, etching, conversion coating, and painting - frequently involve the use of toxic materials like hexavalent chromium, cyanides, and lead compounds, they typically produce pollutants. There exists tremendous opportunity for high-performance, environmentally benign alternatives to the traditional wet chemical metal treatments. These effluents represent a serious environmental problem and increase production costs unnecessarily. The purpose of this project is to develop a commercially viable plasma etching and plasma polymerization process as a high-performance, cost-effective, non-polluting surface pretreatment process for steel, galvanized steel, aluminum-coated galvanized steel, and aluminum. Primers developed under Phase I showed performance equal or superior to commercial wet processes on adhesive specimens bonded with commercial adhesives. Phase I provided crucial information about performance, suitable reactor design and configurations, and optimal primer film thickness. The Phase II objectives are to extend these plasma cleaning and film deposition techniques to produce a fully commercial process by characterizing and optimizing performance on a variety of three dimensional parts, evaluating performance in field trials, and expanding and building on current marketing efforts. If commercialized, metal treatment by plasma etching followed by plasma polymerization could provide superior adhesive strength and durability, consume very small quantities of raw materials, and generate extremely low levels of nonhazardous waste.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, pollution prevention, engineering, chemistry., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, hexavalent chromium, hexavalent chromium waste, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, 33/50, Environmental Engineering, plasma processes, chromium & chromium compounds, cleaner production, waste minimization, waste reduction, environmentally conscious manufacturing, Chromium, lead, plasma spray, clean technology, plasma polymerization, alternative materials, electroplating, emission controls, metal finishing, metal plating industry, coating processes, engineering, process modification, emission reductions, plasma-based dry plating, plymerization, pollution prevention, plasma etching, pretreatment of metal surfaces

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Plasma Processes for Pretreatment of Metal Surfaces