The Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO) is moving forward with an energy saving process for applying ceramic nanocoatings on metal surfaces. A more efficient process could pick up the pace for replacing toxic chemicals, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous materials with safer, more sustainable anti-corrosion nanomaterials.
Ceramic coatings are nothing new, but the conventional technology for applying them is energy intensive. RUSNANO hopes to improve on that with a more energy efficient design that also results in better performance and a longer lifespan.
Ceramic nanocoatings are coming into their own as a more sustainable class of corrosion fighters with the potential for widespread application in the infrastructure (bridges, pipes, etc.), automotive, and electronics sectors. RUSNANO anticipates that a more cost-effective process would also enable ceramic nanocoatings to replace or supplement conventional decorative coatings for metals such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and zirconium. Nanotechnology is also emerging as an important element in solar power technology. Nanocoatings have been developed that enable solar panels to stay clean with less water, and that boost solar cell efficiency.
A More Energy Efficient Ceramic Nanocoating Process
Microarc oxidation is the conventional means of applying ceramic coatings. It involves chemically converting a metal into its oxide (a chemical compound that includes one or more atoms of oxygen). Also called plasma electrolytic oxidation, the process requires a lot of energy to achieve the conversion. The Russian researchers claim to have developed an improved microarc oxidation design that uses less energy, while resulting in a finish that resists heat and corrosion more effectively. If it is successfully commercialized, the new microarc process could replace electroplating, anodizing, and other treatments that involve hazardous materials and produce hazardous waste.
Image: Russian church by thisisbossi on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.