Cooperative Agreement

WTN has arranged a cooperative agreement between the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/ML) and Moyno Industrial Products, a unit of Robbins & Myers, Inc. in Springfield, Ohio. This is an excellent example of how cooperative agreements may be used to accomplish T2 and commercialization.

LASER COATINGS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO CHROME PLATING

Objective

The objective of this program is to leverage an Air Force developed/funded coating processes and apply it to a commercial application. Moyno will further develop and refine the process to solve a critical manufacturing process need for a component of the progressing cavity pump, and determine the feasibility of the coating processes as a replacement for hexavalent chrome plating. The chrome plating process currently being utilized to coat the rotors of the progressing cavity pump has serious environmental problems. Legislation and regulation changes continue to limit the use of chrome and to make disposal of waste products more costly. Thus, the objective of finding a suitable alternative coating is becoming an economic necessity as well as being an environmentally correct decision.

Approach

Moyno will determine the suitability of the Air Force developed coating processes as a replacement for the current hexavalent chrome plating process on the rotor of the Moyno progressing cavity pump.

Laser Coated Rotor

The program is a two-year effort being conducted in three phases.

Phase I is funded by a grant from the National Center for Industrial Competitiveness (NCIC). This phase involves a thorough evaluation of the available coating materials, followed by a selection of the top five or six materials for evaluation. Several substrate materials have been selected to represent the various materials used for production rotors. Test coupons have been fabricated from the substrate materials and vendors have been selected who can plate the coupons. The plated test specimens have been subjected to a series of standardized ASTM wear and corrosion tests. The results of these tests are being employed to determine which coatings will be utilized in Phase II and III. Test results, to date, have shown some promise and are being used to make critical decisions for Phase II.

Phase II is also funded by a grant from the National Center for Industrial Competitiveness. This phase involves the selection of the best coating materials as well as the best coating processes from Phase I and applying them to actual small-scale rotors. This has been accomplished and several small-scale test rotors are currently being coated for additional testing at Moyno. Further, a new coating method has been identified and a contract written with the vendor to purchase several test specimens. These specimens will be subjected to the same tests as the ones used in Phase I in order to provide comparable results. This new process is a viable alternative to the original method and offers the same environmental improvements. Also, a part of this task is to develop, fixtures, tooling and robotic programs needed in order to successfully coat the complex shape of the progressing cavity pump rotor. Moyno has a series of tests that simulate actual field use that will be used to evaluate the coating surface finish and, durability. The results of these tests will determine the feasibility for using the coating process and materials on actual full-scale rotors.

Phase III is funded through a Cooperative Agreement with WTN. During this phase, full-scale rotors will be coated and tested in actual field conditions. Initially, several field sites will be chosen. These will probably represent such areas as oil production, chemical processing, water treatment and pulp & paper production. Specific sites will be chosen which will allow the selection of specific rotors. These rotors will be manufactured and coated using the best of the coatings developed in Phases I and II. The rotors will be installed and run in actual field conditions. After a predetermined period, the rotors will be removed and returned to the Moyno site for a complete and thorough evaluation. Moyno will establish the costs of introducing the technology to actual production as well as capital and operating costs. The results of the effort will be documented in a final report.

Payoff

If successful, this coating program will provide an opportunity to significantly improve environmental compliance. Better progressing cavity rotor wear characteristics are projected and should be achievable at equal or better cost than the current chrome plating process. Further, since the progressing cavity pump rotor is an extremely complex shape, it is anticipated that this technology can be applied to many simpler parts that could improve performance and reduce cost. Parts such as hydraulic cylinders, automotive and aircraft shock struts and bearings are areas where this technology could be effectively applied.

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