A Cost-Competitive Functional Trivalent Chromium Plating Process To Replace Hexavalent Chromium PlatingEPA Contract Number: 68D00274
Title: A Cost-Competitive Functional Trivalent Chromium Plating Process To Replace Hexavalent Chromium Plating
Investigators: Renz, Robert P.
Small Business: Faraday Technology, Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2000) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
The research addresses the development and commercialization of a charge modulated electrochemical deposition (CM-ECD) process in conjunction with a cost-competitive trivalent chromium (Cr) plating chemistry. The resulting innovation will be an environmentally friendly and worker-safe Cr+3 plating process to replace the conventional hexavalent chromium (Cr+6) plating process. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified Cr+6 as one of 17 "high-priority" toxic chemicals based on their known health and environmental effects, production volume, and health issues associated with worker exposure. The Phase I effort established the feasibility of the CM-ECD process compared to the state-of-the-art functional Cr process, by demonstrating equivalent or superior: (1) plating rate, (2) hardness, and (3) current efficiency. These data provide the basis for further technical qualification and prototype scale-up of the CM-ECD Cr+3 functional trivalent chromium plating process via the proposed Phase II effort. In addition to establishing equivalent or superior performance, commercialization requires acceptance by key players within the current supply chain.
The functional chromium plating supply chain consists of: (1) chemical process vendors, (2) waste treatment and plating equipment suppliers, (3) fabricators, (4) repair facilities, and (5) OEMs. Insertion of the CM-ECD Cr+3 process into the market requires that the market-pull and technology-push forces within the supply chain be balanced. Towards that end, the Phase II effort includes collaboration with: (1) Atotech, a large chemical vendor, (2) Delphi, a large sub-assembly fabricator, (3) Precise Chrome, a large component fabricator, and (4) a government repair shop. It is anticipated that successful qualification of the CM-ECD Cr+3 process by these collaborators will generate market acceptance at key points in the supply chain and will provide the required technology-push and market-pull for commercial acceptance.