Monday, July 9, 2018

A New Kind of Fuel

Today gasoline prices continue to increase.   There are threats to future supply, and the exhaust emitted is a danger to the environment. However, there are alternatives to the increasing price and diminishing reserves availabe. The problem is that the alternatives  are more expensive.
One alternative that may be becoming competitive is hydrogen.It is not harmful to the environment, but helpful, and replenishable since the exhaust enters the atmosphere as water. Problems exist that delay consideration of this resource. These include: educating the public that hydogen is not a bomb, any different fromgasoline, safe transprt from source to destination without danger to the community, and modifying the structures of gas stations.
However, these problems are being explored and changes appear to be possible at reasonable cost. If accomplished, then it may be possible to produce hydrogen abundantly, even in homes or as major refineries. Methods are available for safe transport through populated areas without major catastrophy resulting, and  modification can be made to gas stations for storage of supplies and transfer to vehicles as fuel.
One way to accomplish this is throught utilizing the energy of the sun and a water supply. Both of these components are available as solar production at homes and from farms that produce hydrogen en-mass for community usage. The problems  to be resolved are again  storage and safe transportation. Ideas are beginning to be developed to resolve these problems that are interesting to  the gas and petroleum manufacturers.
One of the problems is, if solar energy can be used to produce hydrogen from the sun's energy and available water supply, how do you store this hydrogen supply, either as a resource for home usage or within commercial storage for volume exploitation? One possibility is through use of a fuel cell, using the sun and water as the method and then have a cell for conversion of the water produced to hydrogen. It becomes a closed loop providing aditional advantage for the use of solar power.
The problem now becomes the separation of the hydrogen from the water being produced. This now is possible through inclusion of a fuel cell that accepts the heated water produced from the solar resource, using a photoelectrochemicalcell. In this case the heat produced is either condensed as water or can be energized to provide power. Eventually the water , being converted to steam, cools and can be used as pure water. However, not all the heat required to make electrical energy is expended and the water used can be further useful before storage for consumption to separare hydrogen and then either recycled or stored for consumption. To do this a photoelectrical cell is required for separation of the hydrogen from the water and return the oxygen ions produced back as water.
However, there are still problems in balancing the hydrogten produced and restoration of the oxygen ions from the cell.
 In this case a catylist is required . The trick is to develop the catalyst to permit hydrogen to pass through while restraining the oxygen ions produced from the separation to be restored to the water or exhausted to the atmosphere.
Currently there is research on a membrane attached to the anode of the fuel cell to return the oxygen ions back to the water.Current interest is in a series of alloys known as perovskyte to accomplish this task. The alloys are produced from fine metal oxide powders to produce the membrane. They work but the reasons are not completely understood because they are based on atomic arrangement of the atoms. Current membranes work, but the efficiencies are not sufficient for economic production. New instruments are currently being developed to permit understanding of  atomic arrangment of atoms and the position of the elements contained within the atomic cell, Currently the size and position of the anions are being explored. One therory is that if the anions were smaller they could improve the energy potential. There are two thoughts under consideration. One that we favor is to use either a fine alloy or oxide powder and use a redox balance to create a liquid. The liquid is then converted as the membrane  on the anode, providing either a fine or an amrpous atomic structure, thereby improving the energy efficiency. MagnaTech believes that a modificatiion of a process that we have promoted to make magnetic ink will provide the proper microstructure and atomic spacing.
Currently developments in cryogenics can make storage and transport possible. If the hydrogen produced can be stored and transported as a solid to a refinery or to gas stations,  this problem is solved and there will be no problem transporting hydrogen through urban areas for delivery to gas, oops, hydrogen stations.If so we would have clean competitive energy to serve as fuel for our transportation. MagnaTech is investigating  ways to provide the membrane to make conversion of solar energy possible. However, it is in the infant stage of development and in need of financing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Comments On Todays Industry From A diiferent Era

Well, generally am optimistic, but recent events are starting to make me pesimistic.. Seems that programs begin with good thoughts in mind. Also small companies start with good thoughts in mind. Our eperience after 34 years in business is once we gain a good customer, we keep him. That is because we are always interested in the customer's problem,, not ours.
The same might be said when the government started SBIR. They had needs, and if you could solve their problem then, no matter how large or small, if you had an idea and they liked it, it was funded. Supposed to work that way now, however the small guy is now encourage to partner. Nothing wrong with that. Two heads always beat one.
One problem. In todays world it is becoming more and more about money, and greed now enters the picture. We innovate and do not wish to produce anything other than ideas and good research. Our sucess rate in solving problems has been excellent and people are happy with our services.
It is the commercialization part that becomes the problem, especially today when things become micro or macro in size.It used to be when you partnered you could take a person at their word. More recently you need to be very careful, because it appears that greed and lack of ethics has entered the picture.Instead of a co-operative effort to create products for new markets, once your idea becomes known somehow the producer finds a way to have a better idea and backs out. This has now happened to us on several occassions. For instance we recently had an idea for making or repairing a part quickly and cheaply at the site of the failure. Initially we found several manufacturers that were anxious to participate and then backed off.As far as we can see, the investment required to proceed was small to nil for the large markets that would open. Yet in the end, greed toke over and what apreared to be a good deal was aborted under the guise that more than the dollars allocated were inflated way out of proportion. In past years the joke was that the Brooklyn Bridge had been sold so many times  to the gullible. Well, today greed and relaxation of ethics is making the sale of the Brookly Bridge a reality once more.
We have also been encouraged to patent our ideas. We have done this and were awarded five patents within the last five years. We know there is infringement. Yet to defend the patents would be foolish and drive us into bankruptcy. Maybe it is not true "let the buyer beware" but more true to beware of the greed and decrease in ethics.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Back To Repair

We have now been educated to new technology such as advanced manufacturing ,robots and consulting the Internet for all things, like data storage. We have also now been educated to not repair things but to throw non-functioning things out the window and replace them quickly with a new gadget.
In the past, you had reason to repair equipment and quickly restore it to operating condition. However, that meant inventory, and that is a bad word today because inventory is expensive.However, with just in time concepts, now it becomes overnight delivery of a spare defective part, if all goes well. However, what do you do in the field, especially when something suddenly becomes damaged, especially things like off the road equipment that is becoming more important to increase payload and save money? Unfortunately JIT conditions become perilous.
So, what to do. In the past, and still, common people were trained to make repairs in the field. Howeve,r much of the damage results from degradation of the surface. Fatigue, corrosion, impact and wear are the principal reasons. Again, in the past, many processes such as welding hard facing, plating, plasma welding, etc. have modified the surface to at least minimize damage. These processes are now becoming questionable because they require too much time to repair; coatings are limited in depth, many are porous and most have a brittle interface leading to spalling.Therefore, faster, thicker deposits to protect the surface is required.
MagnaTech has developed a process that uses an activated gas to deposit a reactive concentrated surface. Through the process of diffusion. this concentrated deposit reacts with internal alloying elements alloyed to provide strength and toughness, required for the application, to react with these alloying elements at the surface to form hard, wear and corrosion stable intermetallic compounds at the surface that are thicker and corrosion and wear resistant without generation of a brittle interface.
MagnaTech is currently promoting a modification of the process to provide field coverage to provide fast deposition on site that has the same characteristics n the field as well as for initial protection. If interested call MagnaTech for further details and trials for your application.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Energy-Fossil Fuel Top Dog

Lets face it: we have relied on fossil fuel for energy almost since man discovered fire. However, there weren't as many people around and life expectancy was much shorter. Therefore fossil fuel was a comfort, no--a must for keeping warm and for cooking.
Today there are considerably more of us and not only that, we are living longer. Not only is heat involved, but now there is a constant demand for more and more energy for an increasing number of electronic products and gadgetry. In addition, our nuclear reactors, the cleanest energy source, are aging and the cost for extending life or replacement is high. Less costly reactors are not expected to reach the commercial stage until the 2020s. Solar and wind have their problems regarding location and energy storage. Hydrogen still has safety obstacles to overcome to become a commercial fuel. Therefore, not only because of cost, but additional problems regarding alternative energy sources, it is reality that fossil fuels will be our major energy resource, at least for the short term. The problem becomes one of the emissions. Released to the atmosphere from combustion of coke they cause major damage to the ozone layer. These contaminants to the atmosphere are largely nitrogen compounds identified as NOx and sulphur compounds identified as SOx. In addition, mercury and other heavy metals, health hazards to humans, are also emitted. The Environmental Protection Agency is therefore concerned and is in process of controlling the quantity exhausted to the atmosphere.
Traditional methods for reduction include: wet scrubbing with alkaline sorbent, spray dry scrubbing with similar sorbents, sulfuric acid, flue gas desulfurization and dry sorbent injection systems. These systems are well-known and capital costs well understood. More advanced untried processes include: selective catalytic reduction with methane, plasma decomposition and electrochemical decomposition.
MagnaTech believes that we can develop a process using fluid bed technology to catalyze and reduce these harmful contaminants from combustion exhaust gas to nitrogen. The process receives the combustion exhaust gas at 5000C in an activated fluid bed. The exhaust gas will pass through the activated bed, and a partial pressure of a reducing hydrocarbon gas will be intermixed to reduce NOx to nitrogen and SOx and other contaminants to the fluid bath. MagnaTech is currently seeking support to determine the reliability and the cost required to successfully introduce the process to industrial application. We have assembled a team consisting of Mr. Moyer, chemical catalytic experts, and a fluid bed manufacturer that is key to introducing the process to the commercial market place. The group is open to discussion regarding the technology.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Flexible Hybrid Electronics

Within the next ten years a $70 billion market will develop for hybrid flexible electronic devices and antennas.Currently this market is in infancy because expensive silver serves as the conductive ink and the methods for application are too expensive.
The question then becomes, why not copper? After all, look around you and every electronic device uses copper for efficient flow of electricity for efficient operation.The problem is when you deposit a conductive ink with features of less than 50 micro inches, the conductivity is too low for efficient operation. So far, from what we see the problem is unresolved and if it can be, then this market will blossom.If an improved conductive copper ink could become available,  applications for sensors biosensors, touch screens, antennas, printed heaters, potentiometers and printed circuit boards, solar panels and electroluminescent panels become viable.
The probem is how do you improve the conductivity of copper in such a fine feature when the surface is maximized? MagnaTech thinks outside the box and has conceived an idea that could economically improve the conductivity of copper in thin deposits  to replace expensive silver and processing required for application. However, MagnaTech is a materials research company and  not an expert in ink formulation and application. Therefore, MagnaTech intends to team with a company that does manufacture conductive inks, and with an additional consultant who has been there and made many of the mistakes that have prevented application. The team has prepared a proposal describing how we expect to resolve the problem to permit advancement to the pilot stage of development. We believe that the concept that we propose will improve the conductivity at low cost could be available in six to nine months. So far the largest eleven strongest participants have not succeeded. MagnaTech and partners, look forward to participating  to develop this conductive ink that would significantly expand the usage for these advanced flexible devices.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hard Facing- What Is It?

Today I would like to explore a market that peaked in the 1960s. Like today, two of the major problems causing replacement of parts include wear and corrosion or combinations of the two. In the sixties, the major materials available were mild and low alloy steels. Stainless steels were just starting to attain popularity. However, there were many applications where the steels available were incapable of sustaining wear or corrosion in environments such as  drilling in mines, off shore applications for drilling rigs aircraft repair and shaping of glass bottles to hold liquids.Yes, silicon is abrasive and is the major constituent of most glass. Yes, glass bottles were a major market then because plastics were not yet replacing the cheap glass bottles. However, silicon is abrasive, and therefore something better was needed to extend the life of the part through improved protection of the surfaces used in these applications.
Engineers at small companies in those days, like Metco and Wall Colmonoy, recognized these differences between metals and glass. Therefore it wasn't long before someone decided that if you alloyed metals with silicon and boron  you could create a series of alloys tha,t when heated, became cherry red and did not melt immediately, but slicked up and remained that way for a period of time until the coating became fluid enough to melt and drip from the steel. Furthermore if you alloyed the powder or the wire with elements such as nickel and chromium, and other additives, such as particles of tungsten carbide, you had a surface that was corrosion resistant and had hard wear resistant carbides, borides and nitrides distributed within to provide surfaces that were significantly resistant to corrosion and wear.
Therefore a process developed whereby powders were atomized to these basic compositions with varying amounts of the constituents described that, when fused,  deposits ranging from 40 to 60 HRC hardness protected the surface from wear and corrosion. Tungsten carbide powder was admixed in a fine particle size distribution to further enhance the surface against abrasion.These powders were poured into a canister contained within the spray gun or within an external container, depending on the design of the spray gun. An acetylene oxygen fuel was then activated and the powder introduced within the fuel where it was heated to a temperature that was sufficiently warm to cause the powder to be plastic so that when it emerged from the gun as a spray, it deposited on the substrate as what is known as a splat. This porous deposit was then further heated with a welding torch or placed in a furnace at an appropriate temperature to fuse, similar to a glass with minute porosity. Unfortunately the bond with the substrate is not the most desirable, Therefore the fused coatings had a tendency to spall or flake from the surface, depending on the application, and replaced to renew adequate protection of the substrate. Also much depended on the skill of the operator in making the deposit and fusing it.
Today more ways to deposit coatings on surfaces have emerged. Plasma Spraying, which employs higher temperatures approaching those of the sun,  capable of providing any coating that can be engineered, is available.Also, furnace deposited and diffused coatings are possible that compete with hard faced coatings and do not have the weak interface associated with spalling and fracture that are common with hard faced coatings but have a transitional interface that blends to the microstructure of the alloy substrate.
Moyer, owner of MagnaTech was one of the first people to improvise Hoeganaes hard facing powders to supply most of the hard facing gun manufacturers. More recently he has developed a process that deposits an atomic reactant on the surface of the substrate that reacts with the alloying elements within the substrate to provide a hard wear, corrosion resistant, surface that can compete with hard facing processes in existence today. Many say that like the one horse buggy that hard facing is becoming passe'. However, recently MagnaTech has been provided with an opportunity to quality control plasma sprayed chromium carbide coatings. We look forward to the emerging of this opportunity.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Big Brake Problem

Just finished a proposal to the Marines. You know, the world more and more thinks smaller is better. However, it is not often that you hear this coming from a Marine.In this case, there are many more people that think big. like Marines, and have the same concern. That is because there is an entire industry, including the Marine,s that has a big problem that involves big equipment.
In the case of the Marines, the problem is now critical for improved efficiency of operation of medium and heavy tactical vehicles that operate on five axles. The same problem exists with any off road or off shore equipment that exists for transporting large loads and operates in harsh environments, such as brackish or sea water. These liquids are corrosive and  the vehicles, when traversing them are moving at high speeds,  activate the beds and create slurries of liquid containing abrasive particles. These slurries intrude into open access areas within current brake systems, thereby causing corrosion from the reactive liquid and wear from the particles entrained within the fluid.Owing to the braking components weighing as much as 400 pounds, their life becomes limited , owing to the erosion and corrosion occurring during operation. Therefore life is unpredictable and inability to operate because of brake fade or failure,and inability to operate may occur at critical times when inability to function may result in disaster.
Therefore today there is focus on resolving this problem. The ideal solution would be first of all extension of predictable life and secondly, rapid replacement and restoration of the braking system of the unit to permit resumption of operation.
Corrosion and erosion are processes occurring at surfaces of the braking components. Therefore, if the surface of the component can be improved and improved quickly at the incidence of malfunction, then a major step has resolved the problem quickly, resulting in saved lives, expensive equipment and possibly a critical time when cost is extremely critical. Once the immediate problem of unpredictable function is resolved then modeling can result in improved design resulting in reduction in weight and additional savings in cost and efficiency.
MagnaTech has developed a process whereby the surface where corrosion and erosion occurs can be modified to improve the life of components experiencing the events described above. We have shown, in a different application, that the process has equaled or exceeded life of equipment through improvement of corrosive and erosive attack without experiencing brittle failure such as results from hardfaced surfaces. This additional protection results because our process uses the alloying elements within the brake components to combine with atomic deposited condensed gases at the surface to result in stable, non-reactive intermetallic compounds that transition to the microstructure of the alloy without impairment of properties required for efficient function of the component. Therefore, yes, erosion can occur and eventually will require replacement of the component. However, life will be predictable. Furthermore, we have teamed with another company to demonstrate that should incident of failure occur  at a critical time, in a hostile environment, repair is possible that can minimize the problem or save the day.If you believe that you have need for resolution of a similar problem, MagnaTech would delight in assisting you in resolution of this problem.