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Accurately spray coatings and lubricants using spray technology
Increasing production rates, minimising set times and maximising savings on expensive coatings and lubricants are a few objectives processors strive to achieve when choosing an automated lubrication or coating spray system. At Spraying Systems Co® skilled engineers have developed highly efficient electrostatic systems with these objectives in mind.
Being in the engineering industry for over 79 years, Spraying Systems Co have become the world’s leading supplier of spray products and automated spray systems. The company has developed a range of electrostatic spray systems which can be used in numerous different manufacturing applications.
Electrostatic spray systems work by using the simple principle of spraying a negatively charged liquid or coating to a neutral, grounded target. The AccuJet® Electrostatic Spray Systems from Spraying Systems C® utilise electrostatic spray nozzles to coat chains, conveyors and trays with minimal waste.
Another major concern for processors is that of overspray. Eliminating overspray is not only beneficial to your operations, but also to the health and safety of your workers. The overspray that drips off from conveyors and surrounding equipment can spill onto the floors which poses a dangerous risk for workers.
One of the many benefits of using AccuJet Electrostatic Spray Systems is that they are able to apply coatings and lubricants with high accuracy which leads to reducing or eliminating overspray altogether and decreased waste of costly coatings and lubricants which ultimately leads to increased savings for the operator. Also, clean up time is dramatically reduced due to the cleaner state of the equipment and floors.
As each of the electrostatic systems operate using the electrostatic spraying principle, they are all able to deliver a high transfer efficiency rate, typically over 90%. This is due to the physical attraction of the liquid to the intended target. This results in virtually eliminating overspray, reducing waste of expensive coatings and improving the quality of the overall process.
For processors looking to improve chain lubrication, the AccuJet Electrostatic Chain Oiler System is the ideal choice. The system uses electrostatic spray nozzles to precisely apply lube to key lubrication points along the length of the chain. The system’s low-flow injector pumps can deliver lubricant to as many as four electrostatic spray nozzles simultaneously. As the chain is adequately lubricated, the risk of chain breaks is reduced.
For those in the food industry interested in an electrostatic system, the AccuJet Electrostatic Conveyor System is ideal for pan coating and other bakery and snack coating applications. The AccuJet Conveyor Nozzles are designed to coat pans uniformly, resulting in improved product quality. The nozzles use electrostatic technology ranging from 0.01 – 5 cc per minute. The spray nozzles minimises the possibility of clogging which can sometimes occur when using other conventional spray nozzles for conveyor coating applications. Food safety is increased due to the accuracy of the AccuJet Conveyor Nozzles which reduce product contamination resulting from overspray. This system can also be used for rolled metal lubrication applications.
Beverage can lubrication, stamping and general industrial applications all require a system that is able to coat with a heated lubricant. The AccuJet Electrostatic Heated System consists of a Heated Nozzle Manifold and heated tank controlled by an AccuJet PLC Controller to heat and accurately apply lubricant. The lubricant remains heated at a consistent temperature with even heat distribution as a result of the recirculation system. The Heated Nozzle Manifold can be fitted with up to eight nozzles, depending on the requirements of your application and each nozzle can be individually actuated if need be.
In addition to the electrostatic systems, Spraying Systems Co has designed range of
lubrication systems that are ideal for applying lubricants and corrosion protection fluids to blanks, coils, pipe sections, stamping and forming tools, wires, bars and more. Furthermore to selecting a spray system that improves efficiency, many manufacturing plants are looking to use systems which are able to reduce their company’s environmental impact. Using a spray system that is able to control precisely apply lubricant can reduce liquid consumption by up to 90%.
The expert engineers at Spraying Systems Co had this mind when developing the AutoJet® Lubrication Systems. The systems are designed to decrease lubricant waste and improve the consistency of the application whilst producing little to no mist.
The L210 and P400 AutoJet Lubrication Systems both consist of a base unit and a coil lubricator. The systems are controlled using PLC technology which allows for precise control of the pump that delivers lubricant to the spray nozzles. PLC technology allows for lubricant amounts to be set with a high degree of accuracy which in turn, minimises waste and environmental impact.
For lubricating with light types of media such as emulsions or vanishing oils, the L210 system is ideal. The system uses hydraulic spray nozzles and due to their flat spray pattern, they are able to coat over considerabl e widths, making them an economical choice.
The P400 system is ideal for high viscosity media, high speed applications and for applications that require an even film. The air atomising spray nozzles used each feature a needle that is able to precisely open and close with each pulse. This action efficiently cleans the nozzle orifice of any debris or residue. The system also features an oil mist separator which ensures that no mist is able to escape on the floor and surrounding equipment.
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TUFF STUFF UTE LININGS PROTECTS UNDER THE LONG WHITE CLOUD
Tradespeople, service engineers and transport workers need a form of protection for vehicles that will minimise damage and corrosion from their everyday activities.
By using surface protection, the service life of a vehicle can be extended, in addition to reducing servicing and repair costs.
In addition to the work environment, variable climates—from maritime coasts through freezing alpine highlands to sulphurous steam in active tectonic sites—can also be damaging to any truck, ute or car.
Rhino Linings Australasia’s (RLA) Tuff Stuff is a premium spray-applied lining product that has a thick, textured surface that provides enhanced slip resistance for cargo and maximum protection against corrosion, scratches and dents. The lining forms a permanent air and water-tight bond that prohibits rust, corrosion and surface abrasion. The non-porous lining is easy to clean and the non-abrasive surface texture helps keep cargo in place.
John Papas, regional sales director at RLA, says that selecting the correct product is important which is why all RLA dealers and applicators receive the same comprehensive and intensive training. After initial training they then have access to a network of experienced and knowledgeable staff.
“We have technically experienced staff in Australia, but we can also call on the expertise of our overseas counterparts, particularly in the US, for specialist advice,” he says. This depth of knowledge and experience for which products can be used and in what situations is just a phone call or email away for applicators. “The beauty of the digital age is that we can provide customers anywhere in the region with videos and photographs of best practices done by people anywhere in the world.”
Most other companies just provide the material and a datasheet and that is all. “RLA can give that human factor,” Mr Papas adds.
According to Peter Morgan, general manager of RLA, the structure of the polymer used for ute linings has to be resistant to abrasion and chemical attack. The material’s strength comes from the bonding and cross-linking of the resin and hardener. “When considering a coating you have to think about the physical characteristics of what might be stored in a ute; tools and equipment are often heavy, with sharp edges,” Mr Morgan says. “You also have to consider the physical environment where a vehicle might be used.”
RLA’s Tuff Stuff is warranted not to crack, warp or peel even under extreme temperatures. It is used extensively to protect vehicles such as utes, trucks, 4WDs, prime movers, trailers, boats and horse floats, in addition to military vehicles, flooring, buildings and industrial equipment. RLA’s polymer coatings are also flexible which allows them to stretch and shrink as substrates expand and contract due to temperature and surface fluctuations.
All the company’s dealers and applicators—including those in New Zealand—have access to the same product range. “We manufacture all products on the Gold Coast and ship to dealers and applicators throughout the region,” says Mr Papas.
“While there are some areas with potentially slightly more corrosive environments,” says Mr Papas, “we only occasionally have to include any special additives.” Even if tradespeople are carrying acids, fuels or solvents, RLA has a suitable surface coating. “In extreme cases, Rhino Chem 21-70 can be used in vehicles, tanks and bunds where concentrated sulphuric acid is stored,” says Mr Papas. “Once fully cured it is virtually impenetrable to most chemicals.”
The rapid setting of the company’s polymers means they can be applied up to two or three times thicker than other liners providing more protection, more sound deadening, more slip resistance and more vibration absorption than any other ute liner on the market.
However, Mr Morgan explains that his company’s products were not just used for ute trays or even horse trailers. “Adding Rhino Linings to the options available to a panel beater or repair shop can extend the range of services that they can offer.”
Automotive paint and repair shops already use similar techniques and procedures that would result in a good application of the spray-applied polymer. Similar to the work carried out by a spray painter, the area to be covered has to be masked off. The tape used has an embedded fibre tear strip that is used to create a clean edge to the sprayed material.
The non-porous lining is easy to clean and the non-abrasive surface texture helps keep cargo in place whilst providing insulation against road vibration and noise, unlike the drop-in plastic liners of its competitors.
A major consideration in applying any surface treatment to a structure is the requirement to minimise downtime. “The beauty of our coatings is that they are rapid setting,” says Mr Papas. “We can spray them on and they gel in less than a minute depending on the actual polymer used.”
RLA assists its dealers in developing best method procedures and practices for chemical handling and machinery used to apply the company’s products. The company is committed to the development of new technologies, products, and services that offer the best solutions to the needs of customers, applicators and distributors.
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BEFORE YOU REPLACE: MODERNISE, MAINTAIN OR RETROFIT
An example of a Konecranes modernisation on an old 1965 hoist (top) that was modernised in 2016 (bottom)
There are a number of valid reasons to consider replacing an overhead crane. Your application or production demands may have changed, statutory requirements may have changed or critical components are reaching the end of their economic service life.
Replacing a crane with something new may seem like the obvious option, but there are actually three viable alternatives that will cost-effectively upgrade an existing crane and extend its service life: modernisation, tailored maintenance and retrofits. Before committing to one of these options, it is advisable to consult with professionals who can assess the current situation and make appropriate recommendations.
Modernisations preserve aspects of the existing asset that are in good condition (saving capital funds) and complement those aspects with the addition of selected new replacement components that enhance reliability and safety, adding current technologies. Common modernisations include the replacement of hoists, trolleys, operator cabs and controls to achieve increased capacity, speed, duty and load control.
Before determining what modernisations are needed on a crane, it is highly recommended that the crane undergo a thorough evaluation such as Konecranes’ Crane Reliability Study (CRS). In some cases, a major assessment will need to be undertaken, such as cases where it is a very old crane and there is no record of one being done recently. The major assessment is one way of ensuring the crane is standards compliant.
The CRS is an engineering assessment that evaluates the current condition of a crane and provides a theoretical estimate of its remaining design life and provides recommendations for the next steps. Any of the structure or components excluded from the modernisation scope will still be assessed in compliance with standards, which provides a complete and compliant solution upon completion.
Konecranes modernisations achieve outstanding results through a combination of consultancy, careful inspection, observation, and world class experience and solutions. Konecranes’ capability to provide a life extension on existing assets is fiscally responsible and delivers a high return on investment.
Proper crane maintenance can add years to its service life, and helps optimise its efficiency, reliability, productivity and safety. Maintenance can be divided into two main types, corrective and preventative maintenance.
Corrective maintenance occurs when a fault has been identified, either during a regular inspection, or through real-time crane monitoring (such as Konecranes TruConnect technology).
Timely repair of faults improves safety and makes good economic sense. It also reduces the risk of emergency breakdowns, and is often mandated by industry regulations.
Planned repairs are scheduled according to inspection and maintenance regulations. Optimally, the repair is coordinated and scheduled around production schedules, to minimise the impact of any downtime.
Preventative maintenance is part of a well-planned schedule and aims to eliminate potential problems before they occur. Konecranes creates proactive, customised maintenance plans based on individual equipment, application and duty cycles, with the overall aim of reducing risk and downtime, improving safety and reliability and identifying valuable improvement opportunities.
Konecranes’ advanced TruConnect real-time monitoring technology takes preventative maintenance one step further, by constantly monitoring crane usage and providing real-time updates. Potential faults or problems can be identified at the earliest possible opportunity, and corrected before they cause major downtime.
Retrofits are an easy and economical way to add additional features and technologies to your existing overhead crane. They typically require much less pre-planning and downtime than full modernisations, which means a useful new feature can swiftly be added and begin improving the performance of a crane.
Common retrofits include hoist and component replacements, variable speed control, radio remote control and LED lighting.
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A LASER SOLUTION FOR JOINING DISSIMILAR METALS
The long-standing challenge faced by welding and design engineers of joining dissimilar metals has finally been met. The challenge lies in the differing physical properties and metallurgical incompatibility amongst dissimilar metals that has been found to prove difficult for a welding task. However, it is now possible to use a nanosecond welding process where most combinations of widely used metals can be joined, and achieve acceptable joint strength.
Lasers from the SPI RedEnergy pulsed range have been designed to offer greater power and control during the welding process, and can work with all of the key metals including aluminium, brass, copper, and various types of steel. A continuous wave range of lasers offering strengths of 200W to 1kW, can weld everything from thin steel to thick carbon steel and stainless steel. Regardless of the thickness, or how different the chemical and mechanical properties of two dissimilar metals are, successful welding can be achieved using fibre lasers.
The complication with dissimilar metal welding occurs when two very distinct and very different metals are welded together. It is not always as easy as simply melting the two parts together to form a bond. The problem arises in the transition zone between the two metals, where the intermetallic compounds are formed. Copper and steel are two other metals which are often welded together, but both possess very different properties and are not mutually soluble. A successful weld occurs where the new joint is as strong as the metal with the weaker tensile strength. In this way, the joint will be able to withstand any stresses that it faces.
Like traditional laser welding, dissimilar metal welding requires an understanding of the metals being used as key factors need to be considered by the metallurgist before beginning, regarding solubility of each metal, researching the intermetallic compounds that will form the transition zone, and the weldability of these compounds to ensure no negative outcomes. Additionally, consideration must be given to the coefficient of thermal expansion of the two metals, their melting rates, the possibility of corrosion and finally it is essential to consider the conditions where the weld will be in operation.
The considerations of joining dissimilar metals prior to laser welding is of great importance as joining of dissimilar metals is commonly used in high-volume industries such as the automotive and aircraft industries. Here joins need to handle incredible pressures to provide a high level of safety and security, for example, where two separate parts of an airplane fuselage are welded together, high levels of strength are required to withstand the pressures from high altitudes. The need for dissimilar metal welding is also found in power plants, chemical plants and food processing applications, joining ferritic low alloy steel with austenitic stainless steel, a metal that is commonly used in these industry. In the electronics industry the manufacturing of batteries, fine wires, fuel cells, and even medical devices use welds of dissimilar metals. Industrial applications for fittings, forgings, and tubes, commonly found in heat exchangers, liquid metal reactors, and boilers require welding of dissimilar metals.
The demands of differing industries bring with it the need to create effective manufacturing technologies such as the inclusion of nanosecond infrared fiber lasers in production as they offer high reproducibility, accuracy and productivity along with the all-important low cost in terms of capital and maintenance.
Until now the use of nanosecond (ns) pulsed lasers has been limited but recent pioneering development by SPI Lasers saw the introduction of the master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) in ns fibre lasers. Viewed as extremely versatile tools due to their ability to control and tailor the pulse characteristics to the requirements of applications, this is achieved through the ability to change the pulse duration and frequency. Regardless of the thickness, or how different the chemical and mechanical properties of two dissimilar metals, successful welding can be achieved using ns fiber lasers.
The nanosecond welding process offers multiple options in join design that includes weld geometry flexibility, for example, joining copper on 718 super alloy, aluminium on brass, aluminium on copper, stainless steel on aluminium, stainless steel on copper, titanium on aluminium, and titanium on copper. SPI RedEnergy pulsed lasers provide an economic and effective solution to the welding of dissimilar metals. SPI products are available in Australia and New Zealand from Raymax Applications.
SYNC GRIP PULLERS FOR SIMPLE, SAFE AND PRECISE BEARING REMOVAL
The new SG-Series Sync Grip Pullers – in mechanical and hydraulic configurations up to 45 tonnes capacity – optimise safety, simplicity and speed of removal of bearings, bushings, gears, sleeves, wheels, fly-wheels, sprockets and other shaft-mounted items.
Being introduced to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, the new tools enable one man to do jobs that often previously took two men, says Darryl Lange, Enerpac national sales manager. Applications include maintenance of fixed and mobile machinery and plant as well as heavy vehicles and rolling stock in industries such as the automotive, construction, civil, mechanical, production and process engineering, manufacturing and metal working, mining and energy, oil and gas, materials handling, primary production, road, rail and tracked vehicle transport, water and waste water industries.
For loads up to 20 tonnes, the SGM-Series mechanical pullers provide an economical and efficient option, with all the same rugged high-strength features as the hydraulic option. For more complex tasks, up to 45 tonnes, the MPS-Series hydraulic pullers offer hydraulically applied pulling force through a detachable hydraulic cylinder, to increase pulling capacity and reduce operator fatigue.
“Both the mechanical and the hydraulic Sync Grip Pullers offer efficiency as well as safety, because one worker can do a job that often requires two with other tools. A safety and workplace benefit is that the pullers will even grip on surfaces where normal pullers would slip off – for example, on tapered bearings,” says Mr Lange.
“Their, smooth, simple and safe operation means that, instead of impact hazards created by removal methods using hammers and levers – with risks to both the workpiece and maintenance personnel – Sync Grip Pullers draw parts smoothly and precisely without the need for heating or prying,” says Mr Lange.
“Sync Grip Pullers are the latest evolution of Enerpac’s advanced puller technology. Being able to facilitate simultaneous engagement of each jaw adds an additional level of safety and reliability to a very common industrial process,” he says.
THE NEW RANGES:
• Maximum reach, mechanical pullers, 105-600mm spread range 110-680mm).
• Maximum reach, hydraulic pullers, 320-700mm, spread range 350-980mm
• Threaded spindle and jaw indexes provide adjustable reach
• Three jaw configuration for even load distribution, with two-jaw configuration available in mechanical pullers for confined access situations
• High-strength forged jaws for superior reliability
• Optional accessories that expand application range and increase utility.
• Hydraulic models are available in standard kits which include detachable hydraulics cylinders and a choice of pump options, along with a gauge assembly and hose for safe monitoring of applied pulling forces.
• Cross-bearing puller sets available to complement Sync Grip technology, featuring quick set up to tackle a variety of jobs and precise hydraulic control for fast, efficient and safe pulling. Available in 6-22 tonne capacities with maximum reach 357-831mm and 260-580mm in spread range.
• Backed nationally and on-site by the sales, service and technical expertise of the Enerpac distributor network, which has been a market leader in Australasia for more than 50 years
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MINIMISE CORROSION COSTS/EFFECTS USING TECH AND INNOVATIONS
When it comes to the field of asset management and engineering there are advantages of new opportunities and materials to improve asset performance and reliability in the face of a highly corrosive environment. Be the first to hear about new coatings techniques at the third Coatings and Corrosion Conference.
One such new opportunity to protect assets is to utilise microencapsulations in coatings. Microencapsulation is an advanced and well established technique for corrosion protection of metals but still has not received adequate attention from industries to date. There are benefits and challenges to using microencapsulations in coatings and Callaghan Innovation Group will be discussing their application in the New Zealand environment. Along with corrosion inhibition, microencapsulation can be used to enhance other performance properties of coatings such as mechanical strength, impermeability, aesthetic appearance and UV resistance.
Also in the programme is a case study on one of the most well-known new assets in the country. Te Ara I Whiti (The Light Path) took an old disused motorway offramp and turned it into a bright highlight in the maze of motorways making up Auckland’s Spaghetti Junction. Duncan Peters of Novare Consulting will discuss the state of the art corrosion protection on this iconic footbridge.
Fire protection is also an important focus for resilient assets. Passive Fire Protection will be covered in a separately bookable half day workshop giving delegates the opportunity to devote their time to practical instruction on ensuring structures can stand up against the heat from a fire.
Other speakers include International Paint, SGS, Callaghan Innovation, The University of Auckland and ICS-Inspection and Consultancy Services. This conference held August 28-29 in Auckland is surely not one to be missed, with a special price for central and local government asset managers.
For more information and to register
head to www.conferenz.co.nz/corrosion
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CONCRETE CORROSION TAMED FOR UP TO 50 YEARS
Sika’s Ferrogard Duo hybrid anode system was recently installed on the bridge and causeway over the Whau River and Estuary on Auckland’s State Highway 16.
For the owners of large, corrosion-prone concrete assets in aggressive coastal environments, Sika has two systems that can significantly reduce maintenance costs.
The Sika Ferrogard Patch system increases the durability of traditional concrete patch repairs by providing protection against incipient anode corrosion. Although using galvanic anodes in concrete patch repair is not new, Sika Ferrogard Patch anodes deliver improved performance and reliability over previous systems. By placing the anodes outside the repair, they are closer to the area where corrosion is most likely to occur and are therefore more effective at preventing corrosion initiation.
The improved reliability of the Sika Ferrogard Patch system is reinforced by it being active without the traditional requirement to pre-soak the anodes in water, therefore eliminating one critical installation step that is frequently overlooked. This also means the anodes are immediately active when installed, irrespective of whether the contractor has completed the patch repair.
The system provides up to 50 years of reinforcement corrosion protection without the need for regular monitoring and maintenance and it is fully compatible with pre-stressed concrete structures. This system greatly extends asset life and reduces ongoing maintenance costs to almost nothing. It is a hybrid system using discrete zinc anodes that are operated initially in a temporary impressed current corrosion protection phase before switching to the galvanic protection phase.
The impressed current phase, which typically uses a 12V power supply for just two weeks, halts reinforcement corrosion and ensures the steel reinforcement is fully passivated and in a non-corrosive environment. No further monitoring, maintenance or adjustment of the system is required for up to 50 years.
For more information, visit www.Sika.co.nz
CORROSION SPECIALISTS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING
Training and education is a vital part of the development of anyone working in a profession. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is also often a requirement for membership of an industry association or government registration.
As part of its education program, the Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA) each year presents a range of technical seminars and training courses teaching effective and efficient management of corrosion. ACA courses offer the most up-to-date corrosion control information available today and can help meet CPD requirements.
Knowledge and understanding of the latest corrosion technologies and processes is a key factor in managing the massive cost that corrosion imposes on industry. The annual cost has been estimated to be more than three per cent—or multiple billions of dollars—of global GDP each year.
In July, the ACA will be presenting the Brian Cherry International Concrete Symposium at the Marriott Hotel in Melbourne. The two-day event on 26-27 July will highlight and pay tribute to the work of a tireless and well respected researcher and educator in the field of concrete corrosion.
Professor Cherry of Monash University has made significant contributions over the years to corrosion management in concrete. He has not just been at the forefront of academic developments, educating many of the leading corrosion science and engineering practitioners but has been a regular contributor to the wider profession through presentations around the world.
The concrete symposium will feature 11 prominent international and Australian speakers from countries including New Zealand, the USA, Spain and the UK. The speakers are some of the best in the world on reinforced concrete corrosion, protection, repair and durability and will publish high quality technical papers to form a hard-copy take away book for delegates. At the end of each day there will be a panel discussion and open forum where delegates will be able to take part in spirited debates on the topics of the day and other corrosion related subjects.
The technical events event will bring industry experts together to share their knowledge and explore the protective coatings industry by looking at case studies, new technologies, environmental considerations, industry qualifications, standards and training.
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NANOL’S ADDITIVE PROVEN TO REDUCE HYDROGEN WEAR OF METALS
Gear boxes in different industries are applications which can benefit from Nanol’s additive, as it reduces the wear of metals.
Originally designed for fuel saving, Nanol’s additive now enters completely new areas of use.
The renowned Fraunhofer independent research institute in Germany has demonstrated that Nanol’s lubricant additive has some completely new performance features. The patented lubrication additive, based on nano technology, was originally developed for fuel saving and wear protection in marine engines and industrial applications.
The latest testing now shows that the additive has additional positive properties as well, as it can prevent so-called hydrogen embrittlement. Hydrogen embrittlement is the process by which metals such as steel become brittle and fracture when in contact with hydrogen.
The testing that demonstrated the new effect of Nanol’s additive was conducted by a leading manufacturer of ball bearings. Further testing was also carried out at Fraunhofer Institute by Professor Dr Matthias Scherge.
“The latest research has added new features to the scientific picture of Nanol. Nanol must be considered a package with multi-functional properties including viscosity index improvement, friction modification, anti-wear properties as well as protection against hydrogen embrittlement,” states Mr Scherge, who has previously conducted several other laboratory tests on Nanol’s additive. Hydrogen embrittlement is a serious issue in several applications, and the newly demonstrated property opens completely new areas of use for Nanol’s additive. So far, the additive has mainly been used by shipping companies in marine engines and power plants.
“We are now starting to penetrate new customer segments. Hydrogen embrittlement is a severe problem in for example wind power turbines. By using Nanol, the lifetime of components can be extended and service intervals prolonged,” says Johan von Knorring, founder and ceo of Nanol Technologies.
Several other technologies are available to deal with the hydrogen embrittlement problem, including for example various coatings. According to von Knorring, Nanol’s solution is both more reliable and effective in comparison.
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Tungsten study opens up wonder materials
A team of scientists are trying to determine the “fundamental behaviour of plasma-facing materials with the goal of better understanding degradation mechanisms so we can engineer robust, new materials,” says materials scientist Chad Parish of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is senior author of a study in the journal Scientific Reports that explored degradation of tungsten under reactor-relevant conditions.
Because tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals, it is a candidate for plasma-facing materials. Owing to its brittleness, however, a commercial power plant would more likely be made of a tungsten alloy or composite. Regardless, learning about how energetic atomic bombardment affects tungsten microscopically helps engineers improve nuclear materials.
“Inside a fusion power plant is the most brutal environment engineers have ever been asked to design materials for,” Mr Parish says. “It’s worse than the interior of a jet engine.”
Researchers are studying the interaction of plasma and machine components to make materials that are more than a match for such harsh operating conditions. Materials reliability is a key issue with current and new nuclear technologies that has a significant impact on construction and operating costs of power plants. So it is critical to engineer materials for hardiness over long lifecycles.
For the current study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, bombarded tungsten with helium plasma at low energy mimicking a fusion reactor under normal conditions. Meanwhile, researchers at ORNL used the Multicharged Ion Research Facility to assault tungsten with high-energy helium ions emulating rare conditions, such as a plasma disruption that might deposit an abnormally large amount of energy.
Using transmission electron microscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and electron nanocrystallography, the scientists characterized the evolution of bubbles in the tungsten crystal and the shape and the growth of structures called “tendrils” under low- and high-energy conditions. They sent the samples to a firm called AppFive for precession electron diffraction, an advanced electron crystallography technique, to infer growth mechanisms under different conditions.
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