This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop an Aromatic Thermosetting Copolyester (ATSP) system and process it into highly-effective wear resistant coatings. Surface treatments and coatings are key to improving wear performance and durability in a wide array of applications. In this project, different ATSP powder blends will be studied. Coatings of ATSP/PTFE blends on metal substrates (using sintering) will be produced. Tribological tests of these coatings under industrially-relevant conditions will be performed. Preliminary spray coatings from the ATSP powder blends will also be explored.
The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential to provide ultra-low wear coatings for mechanical devices, such as air-conditioning and refrigeration compressors, to replace the liquid lubricants. Recent preliminary research on air-conditioning and refrigeration compressor surfaces has shown that high-performance and recyclable ATSP system exhibit low friction coefficient and at least one order of magnitude reduction in wear rate compared to the state-of-art polymeric coatings. Blends of ATSP with other polymers and additives have the potential to offer low-cost and versatile wear resistant coatings for applications in engines, pumps and compressors.
Intellectual Merit Surface treatments/coatings are key to improving wear performance and durability in a wide range of applications. The problems associated with use of liquid lubricants, hard/soft coatings are well known but only modest progress has been achieved partly due to lack of research on new material systems. ATSP Innovations, with team partners the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, produced and tested highly effective wear resistant coatings by blending ATSP with Teflon® and other tribologically beneficial additives in the Phase I program. The main advantages of these polymeric-based coatings are their relatively low cost and simple substrate surface conditioning (i.e., no need for expensive surface preparation before coating). Key features are: 1) Thermally stable at temperatures required to process Teflon® (350-450°C). 2) Selected compositions (e.g., 5% Teflon® blended with ATSP) exhibited excellent tribological properties with several samples evidencing "zero" wear and low friction coefficient values (COF) that remained stable during testing. Both are important attributes for a long-term wear coating. 3) The ability to undergo interchain transesterification reactions at temperatures in excess of 325°C permitting reincorporation of wear debris into the wear coating. 4) Good adhesion of ATSP to metals such as stainless steel and cast iron. ATSP coatings produced in Phase I were shown to perform similar or better than industrially optimized state-of-the-art polymeric-based coatings. Preliminary thermal spray coatings of neat ATSP were prepared at Stony Brook using multiple parameters and initial results are promising for this industrial relevant process. Broader Impacts/Commercial Potential Development of the recently discovered ATSP family heralds a major advance for the field of wear and lubrication. Blends of ATSP with Teflon® and other additives have the potential to redefine the new pathway to lower cost and more versatile wear coatings for industry. Our team at ATSP Innovations has identified strong customer demand for innovations that significantly improve the performance of the tribopair in compressors in the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry. Recent preliminary research for that specific market segment has shown that ATSP Innovations patented, high performance, recyclable aromatic thermosetting copolyesters polymer system, exhibit all the key figures of merit desired by the customers: low friction coefficient and an order of magnitude reduction in wear rate compared to state-of-the art polymeric coatings. During the Phase I program, we have been in continuing discussions with a major industrial materials company as a potential customer and we have prepared prototype quantities of ATSP for testing at their facility. Also we have initiated contact with a major air-conditioning and refrigeration compressor manufacturer to evaluate our coatings in their compressors. ATSP Innovations will also pursue opportunities in the much broader market with obvious major societal impact since engines, pumps and compressors are common equipment that drives a fair share of the United States energy demand. ATSP has also shown excellent performance in adhesives, rigid foams, matrices for composites, and dielectrics for microelectronics, resulting in additional potential markets.