Modumetal makes cost effective nanolaminated steel up to ten times stronger and corrosion resistant

This article was published in Next Big Future. The full text version can be found here.

By Brian Wang

Modumetal is creating a revolutionary new class of nanolaminated materials that will change design and manufacturing forever by dramatically improving the structural, corrosion and high temperature performance of coatings, bulk materials and parts. Modumetal is based on the interaction of different materials at their interfaces. By laminating metals, Modumetal creates a new way to influence material properties. By growing metal using low-cost electrochemistry, Modumetal enables a whole new class of applications of these materials.

Modumetal’s advanced manufacturing technology makes it possible to GROW nanolaminate structures, much like nature grows shell and bone. Kevin Bullis MIT Technology Review indicates the Modumetal process can increase the strength of metals such as steel by as much as 10 times. Modumetal uses an advanced form of electroplating, a process already used to make the chrome plating you might see on the engine and exhaust pipes of a motorcycle. Electroplating involves immersing a metal part in a chemical bath containing various metal ions, and then applying an electrical current to cause those ions to form a metal coating.

The company uses a bath that contains more than one kind of metal ion and controls how ions are deposited by varying the electrical current. By changing the current at precise moments, it can create a layered structure, with each layer being several nanometers thick and of different composition. The final coating can be up to a centimeter thick and can greatly change the properties of the original material.

David Lashmore, a professor of materials science at the University of New Hampshire who has conducted work in the area, says nano-engineered layers can make a material stronger by stopping cracks from moving through it.

The International Energy Agency estimates that more than 70% of our remaining oil reserves consist of heavy crude oil, often high in sulfur or CO2 content. The same is true of natural gas, of which more than 50% of the global supply is highly corrosive.

This paradigm shift in the oil and gas industry necessitates the availability of cost-efficient corrosion-resistant metals for E and P equipment. [E and P Magazine from Hart Energy]