Coating-Enabled Component Design: Technology Tools for Nanostructures Coatings
Caterpillar, Inc., Peoria, IL
United Technologies Corp., East Hartford, CT
J.A. Woollam Co., Lincoln, NE
Duration and Cost:
funding amount: $4.8M
- Industry cost-share amount: $4.8M
Report of the Completed Project:
Gears are used in all types of mechanical systems to change the torque and speed from what is developed by a mechanical power source to what is needed for an application. Improvements to the design of gears are limited by the mechanical properties of the materials used to make gears. Coating gear teeth with a diamond-like substance is known to improve resistance to wear and breakage, but coating companies have not been able to reliably and reproducibly coat gear teeth. However, improved materials for gears could have broad national benefits that extend beyond the organizations that develop such innovations. These include the development of smaller, lighter, more powerful and energy efficient equipment that is also longer lasting.
A solution was proposed by a joint venture led by Caterpillar, United Technologies, and a small instrumentation company, J.A. Woollam Co., to develop new processes, control strategies and modeling tools to enable the redesign of higher power density gears. The joint venture also partnered with three universities and three other companies as subcontractors to address this industry-wide issue. Commercialization of materials solutions typically take 15 to 20 years to implement, and due to the risk, innovation and infrastructural nature of the problem, ATP support could enable benefits to the nation much sooner than otherwise possible.
and Economic Impacts
The joint venture team made technical advancements in three main areas: coating failure; surface characterization techniques; and coating control technology.
The team developed a new understanding of coating failure mechanisms that differed from existing theory. The knowledge gained from this advancement was disseminated in six published articles, 13 presentations, and three pending and issued patents.
The team developed and implemented seven new surface characterization techniques. In this area, the collaboration of the three university partners (Louisiana State, Northwestern, and the University of Hawaii) with J.A Woollam (Lincoln, NE), HY-Tech Research (Radford, VA), and Inventium LLC (Wellesley, MA) disseminated the knowledge in seven published articles, two chapters in books, nine presentations, and two pending and issued patents.
The team has been able to translate the knowledge to achieve the following technical achievements:
- More than doubled gear life;
- Achieved a 25 to 50 percent increase in power density;
- Reduced parasitic power losses by more than a 10 percent reduction in gear systems;
- Reduced gear tooth temperature by 10°C;
- Improved ellipsometry, a measurement technique that could measure the coating properties as they were being applied in a large rotating vacuum chamber, by a factor of three;
- Improved the coating application process by a factor of five;
- Developed modeling tools for gear life prediction, optimal surface finish, and lubricant additive chemistry and viscosity effects.
The technical achievements have large potential economic benefits, across a variety of industry sectors. The joint venture estimates projected benefits to be:
- $931 M in markets the project participants are involved with including construction and mining equipment, diesel engines, aerospace and HVAC applications;
- $2,139 M in the automotive and on-road trucks through reduced powertrain manufacturing costs and improved efficiency; and
- As much as $4,440 M in annual fuel savings from weight reduction (improved powertrain gears power density) and reduced friction.
Date created: July 29, 2005
August 21, 2006