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Chementator: A hard coating promises to reduce wear and power use in rotating equipment

By Edited by Gerald Ondrey |

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE; Washington, D.C.) Ames Laboratory (www.ameslab.gov) and Iowa State University (both of Ames, Iowa) have developed a hard, smooth coating that can be applied to industrial equipment, such as pumps, gears and cutting tools, to reduce friction and extend the life of the equipment. Ames has been working with various companies, including Eaton Corp. (Cleveland, Ohio; www.eaton.com), whose products include hydraulic pumps. The coating material is a ceramic alloy that combines boron, aluminum, magnesium and titanium boride, says Alan Russell, a professor of materials science and engineering at the university. These ingredients are milled to a particle size of 0.5 – 1 µm, thoroughly mixed, then compressed in a graphite die at about 1,400°C and 14,000 psi to form a solid, dense block. The researchers have been using a technique called pulsed laser deposition to dislodge atoms from these blocks and deposit 1-µm coatings on adjacent targets, such as pump vanes. However, this method is not practical for commercial use, says Russell, so Eaton is using magnetron sputtering, a commercial-scale process. This is done in a vacuum chamber and uses radio frequency energy to ionize…
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