NanoSteel Establishes R&D Facility in Idaho Falls

  • August 28, 2003

  • MAITLAND, Fla. (Thursday, August 28, 2003) - Recognized by R&D Magazine as one of the most significant technological achievements in 2001, the invention of Super Hard Steel® (SHS) coatings is being commercialized by The NanoSteel Company. Headquartered in Maitland Fla., NanoSteel has established a Nanomaterials Research Institute in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Joe Buffa, NanoSteel’s Chief Executive Officer, expressed excitement about the progress the company has made in its first year, and foresees a promising future.

    “During our first year, we have successfully ramped up both our powder and wire products to industrial scale production (over 100,000 lb capacity per month); established our own research institute with the cooperation of the INEEL; greatly solidified our intellectual property position; hired a world-class sales team; and made significant inroads in achieving our sales goals,” Buffa said.

    SHS was originally developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) by Daniel Branagan, a materials scientist who is now the chief technical officer for NanoSteel.

    Bill Shipp, INEEL president and Laboratory director, said of the synergy between the private sector and government research programs, “The formation and commercial progress of the NanoSteel Company is a great example of what can happen when national laboratory inventions are put in the hands of an experienced, well-financed team of entrepreneurs. This is exactly what policymakers in Washington want to see happening with their investment in cutting-edge research. The INEEL is proud to be the breeding ground for this remarkable technology.”

    SHS forms a tough, low cost and wear and corrosion resistant coating that outperforms traditional high performance materials in applications where combinations of wear, corrosion and impact destroy or damage industrial parts. Since the bulk of the damage in an industrial part comes from the working surfaces as a result of corrosion, abrasion, erosion or fatigue, the application of this coating can vastly extend service lifetimes, reduce maintenance costs and allow parts to perform in new and demanding environments and in ways previously not possible.

    “There have been very few truly innovative developments in thermal spray or weld overlay protection in the past 20 years,” said Michael Breitsameter, NanoSteel vice president of marketing and business development. “This technology, and the highly skilled and motivated team we have put together at NanoSteel, can provide solutions to problems that exist today, and some that are as yet unimagined.”

    NanoSteel’s early focus has been centered on applications involving thermal spray techniques to apply coatings such as HVOF (High Velocity Oxygen Fuel), plasma and TWAS thermal spraying. NanoSteel has since been actively pursuing the development of variations of SHS for weld overlay for hardfacing and spray and fuse applications, which result in a protective layer that maintains full metallurgical bonding to the substrate. NanoSteel is also developing second generation wear and corrosion materials that offer even further improved performance.

    Buffa added, “We do not consider ourselves just a thermal spray company, but also a ‘solutions company.’ We have built a unique, world-class team with specialized knowledge that can be quickly brought to bear to provide unique and innovative solutions to solve the needs of industry.”

    NanoSteel recently launched a second product line, called NeutraShield™ Coatings, which combines the revolutionary bond strength, toughness, corrosion and wear resistance of SHS coatings with the ability to absorb thermal neutrons with an extremely high thermal neutron cross section.

    Prodip Chaudury, NanoSteel’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “We have received enormous interest in our new NeutraShield™ material since announcing this product line during a nuclear materials conference in July. It is a completely unique product capable of addressing many long-term storage issues currently challenging the nuclear industry.”

    Such material would create containers that better withstand the radiation environments of storage facilities. NanoSteel employ four full-time and one part-time employees in Idaho Falls, located in a building previously occupied by the Eastern Idaho Visitors Center at 505 Lindsay Boulevard. As visitors approach the building, they see the Institute's slogan, “A Natural Treasure, A National Resource.”

    Dr. Dan Branagan, NanoSteel’s Chief Technical Officer, said, “We take our focus very seriously, which is taking new materials, developed in-house or anywhere in the world, across the great technological divide from basic discovery to near-term, large-scale industrial production and commercial utilization much faster than it is currently done. No company in the world either specializes in this area or does this particularly well. If we are successful with our vision, then we will reduce the normal time for the development of new products from several years down to months. This unique capability could truly be considered a national resource, and the development of advanced nanomaterial technologies could make a huge impact on technology and how it affects our everyday lives.”

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