Novel Metal Shaping Process Using Nontoxic Working FluidsEPA Contract Number: EPD05010
Title: Novel Metal Shaping Process Using Nontoxic Working Fluids
Investigators: Bonifas, Alan
Small Business: Faraday Technology, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: March 1, 2005 through August 31, 2005
Project Amount: $69,882
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2005) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste
This research project addresses worker and environmental safety concerns regarding the use of toxic cutting fluids in metal shaping operations. The toxicity of cutting fluids can be caused by either the constituents of the cutting fluid chemistry, or in the case of water-soluble emulsions, the biocides intended to control bacterial growth. Faraday Technology, Inc., intends to adapt an advanced electrochemical edge- and surface-finishing technology to provide a robust, cost-effective, high-volume metal removal process that does not require toxic chemicals. The project will address the common challenges associated with electrochemical processing, namely dimensional control and surface finish, by applying a user-defined, pulsed electric field to control the metal dissolution pattern as opposed to relying on chemical means. Furthermore, the electrolytes used in this process do not foster bacterial growth so the need for toxic biocides is eliminated. In addition to eliminating the need for toxic cutting fluids, Faraday will provide the following advantages over conventional machining processes: (1) complex geometries can be machined in a single pass; (2) the surface finish is excellent; and (3) the surface is burr-free and stress-free. To complete the life cycle assessment of the process, the metal waste can be removed from the electrolyte using both physical and electrochemical means providing an enriched material for reuse programs. The effluent from this filtration step is introduced back into the circulation loop.
The anticipated results of the Phase I and Phase II efforts include: (1) the development and commercialization of an electrochemical technology that can machine metals, such as carbon steel, in the presence of nontoxic electrolytes; (2) the development of an electrolyte management strategy; and (3) the development of a metal reclamation strategy. This electrochemical technology will be applicable to a wide range of metals for the automotive, military, commercial aircraft, and other industries. The advantages of this technology will be most prominent in components that have complex geometry and/or require excellent surface finishes.