Pollution-Free Process for Surface ProtectionEPA Contract Number: 68D99084
Title: Pollution-Free Process for Surface Protection
Investigators: Riley, Michael J.
Current Investigators: Tramel, Terri L.
Small Business: Surface Treatment Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through September 1, 2001
Project Amount: $224,960
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1999) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Description:Laser Induced Surface Improvement (LISISM) technology is proposed as an alternative metal finishing technology to replace hexavalent chrome plating for some applications. The proposed solution uses focused laser energy to form a wide variety of surface alloys (including chromium, not hexavalent chrome) on many base metal systems, producing chrome-plated materials properties with no waste stream or effluent concerns. The resultant surfaces demonstrate many of the qualities sought in chrome plating applications, and they exceed chrome-plated materials properties in the areas of wear and adhesion. For some applications, the desired performance can be attained without the use of a chromium alloy. Phase I research has demonstrated that surface alloys can be tailored to address specific manufacturing needs. Three industrial partners identified performance requirements and furnished chrome-plated specimens for baseline testing. In each case, a LISISM surface was developed to replace the chrome plate for the given base metal. Phase II will further optimize the alloy formulations for specific industrial applications, and functional hardware will be coated and placed in an operational environment. Realistic field testing will provide the technical input for further surface alloy optimization as well as the necessary data for an economic feasibility analysis.
The research results demonstrate that special surface alloys can be developed in response to the demands of each application. The test results also support the hypothesis that the environmentally friendly LISISM process has potential to equal or improve upon the protective qualities of hard chrome plating. A very significant quality of LISISM surfaces is the metallurgical bond with the substrate that cannot be removed via physical abuse or thermal cycling. Adhesion qualities alone should make the process more than competitive with chrome plating for some applications. Many industries want more than an environmentally friendly manufacturing process and are seeking an improved performance in surface protective qualities. The LISISM process can provide this improved protection for a variety of applications. Further, LISISM surfaces can be developed inside pipes and in confined areas. Although LISISM joins a host of other technologies proposed to replace chrome plating, it uniquely satisfies the requirements of some industries.