Recovery Act - Scale-up of Production of Active Nanoparticles-Based Novel Lubricant Additives to Improve Energy Efficiency and Durability

Period of Performance: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanomech, LLC
535 W Research Blvd, Suite 135, M/S 100
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Friction is one of the major reasons for failure of gears and bearing surfaces used in traditional and nonrenewable energy systems such as power generators and wind turbines, and in other vital industries such as transportation, mining and construction. A recent Department of Energy report noted that reliability of wind turbine gearboxes is one of the major challenges to delivering an efficient wind energy platform, and that comprehensive solutions are needed to address design and lubrication of gearboxes. The annual cost of friction- and wear-related energy and material losses is estimated to be 5 to 7 % of the GNP of industrialized nations. Addressing the critical need for improved lubrication is one of the grand challenges the US faces in attempting to increase use of nonrenewable energy sources, reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, and increase productivity. The objective of this SBIR project is to scale up and optimize production of advanced lubricant additives. These additives provide advanced lubrication due to the ability of the nano-size lubricating agents to get into the intricate spaces between mating surfaces, where they react with the surfaces to form a durable lubricating film that sustains high loads and reduces friction and wear. Further, these advanced additives are more environmentally friendly than those currently used for these applications. The process for making the nano-additives will be scaled up to commercially-viable production levels, optimized and tested to demonstrate friction and wear reduction and increased lifetime when used in oils and greases for wind turbines and other systems.The first phase was successful in demonstrating the feasibility of scaling up the production level to an industrial scale, and performance tests showed that critical characteristics and tribological performance factors of the nano-additive were maintained. Working with a leading wind turbine manufacturer, tribological tests demonstrated the desired performance. Collaboration with a leading lubricant manufacturer identified performance and cost targets as well as process routes. A pilot production facility will be prepared and optimized, scaling up to commercially-viable production levels. Key tests will be performed to demonstrate consistent performance meeting the demanding requirements for lubrication of wind turbine gear boxes. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: These additives address major needs of the manufacturing industry for providing predictable and extended reliability along with major energy savings in severe friction and wear conditions. The first critical application of interest is in gears for wind turbines and related mechanical joints. This is one of the immediate