NanoCoatings, Inc. Awarded Air Force SBIR Project

New Air Force SBIR Program for NanoCoatings

NanoCoatings, Inc. (NCI), a small business located in the Ascent Innovation Center in Rapid City, SD, was recently awarded a 9-month Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project to develop and demonstrate corrosion-resistant coatings as possible replacement for hard Chrome plating.


The Air Force is interested in removing hazardous Chrome plating used on Aluminum (Al) and Titanium (Ti) alloy components on its weapon systems. Currently, hard Chrome plating solutions contain carcinogenic hexavalent Chromium material and requires elaborate and costly solution handling and disposal operations. NanoCoatings proposed a unique high-voltage immersion anodize process, termed Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation (PEO) which converts value metal (e.g., Al, Ti, Mg, Zr) surfaces into crystalline-oxides which are harder than traditional anodized treatments and consequently offers very good abrasive, and erosive wear-resistance.  In addition, due to the very dense crystalline-oxide layer growth from the substrate, excellent sealing of the surface results in improved corrosion resistance. In fact, most PEO-treated surfaces do not need a final seal treatment, common for traditional anodized surfaces.

NanoCoatings proposed to investigate both straight PEO-treatments and PEO-treatments with added nanoparticles in the electrolyte bath, with the nanoparticles being used to toughen the oxide-ceramic layer and with certain additions (e.g., solid lubricants) can provide reduction friction. Other attractive features of the PEO-process include:  1) ability to treat complex-shaped parts, since it is a bath-immersion, non-line-of-sight operation, 2) use of a reduced number of process steps and solution baths, and 3) generation of benign solution products which in some cases, can be literally poured down the drain.

In the Phase I program, NCI will perform PEO-treatments of Al and Ti alloy coupons for conversion-coating microstructure, adhesion, and indent characterization, and resistance to abrasive-wear and salt-fog corrosion environments.

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