To advance sustainable technologies, we partner with customers, academic institutions and other public and private entities. Here are some highlights of our current work.
Faster in 3D
Our ambient reactive extrusion additive manufacturing (ARE AM) earned a 2018 R&D® 100 award in the processing/prototyping category. We are advancing the technology even further with funding from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (CCDC’s) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) – the Army's corporate research laboratory – and support from Drexel University, Rowan University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
ARE AM enables 3D printing of polymer materials at up to 100 times the rate of traditional thermoplastic printing techniques. It eliminates the internal stresses and warping that plagues other printing techniques while creating chemical bonds between layers to create stronger parts.
Because it is fast and easy to scale up, ARE AM is suited for rapid prototyping and custom and on-site manufacturing. It also offers cost and energy efficiencies since current additive manufacturing methods are slower and consume more energy to melt printing materials and heat parts during printing.
Making a better water filter
Water conservation and reuse is critical to military operations, especially at forward operating bases where supply chain routes can be dangerous. The CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center is helping fund PPG research to develop water-filtration systems that treat wastewater from showering, laundry and cooking for non-potable reuse.
Current filter technologies quickly become plugged with waxy and sticky contaminants, making the filters difficult to clean and return to top efficiency. Testing and evaluation provided by North Dakota State University shows that our filtration membrane technology remains cleaner longer and is easy to backflush repeatedly to restore efficiency. The water-conserving technology also can be beneficial for non-military applications, such as commercial buildings and manufacturing plants.
For more than 50 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation have used vinyl coatings to protect U.S. water infrastructure, such as locks and dams, flood control gates and hydroelectric facilities. We are working with the Corps’ Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL) to develop more environmentally friendly options.
Vinyl coatings provide excellent durability and corrosion protection over decades of use but have twice the volatile organic compound (VOC) content than most state regulations allow. Finding low-VOC alternatives has been challenging, and the partnership was formed to identify low-VOC coating chemistries that also provide the excellent performance of vinyl coatings.
Battery technology that binds
Military vehicles cycle through lead-acid batteries more quickly than civilian vehicles do, and the expense and performance limitations of longer-lasting lithium ion batteries have dissuaded their use. With funding from the CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center, we are developing battery binder technologies that can facilitate the switch from lead-acid to lithium ion batteries.
We have developed new coatings that do not require N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), a hazardous and expensive solvent used in traditional battery coatings. Our NMP-free cathode binders enable the production of lithium ion batteries with higher energy densities, addressing the performance limitations. Removing NMP from the manufacturing process also reduces costs and environmental impacts.
How do you make a coating that is compatible with water while in the can but then resists water after application to avoid peeling and corrosion? Through a project sponsored by CERL, we are researching the answer. The benefits – simpler repainting and more environmentally friendly properties.
The first coating technology that we are developing with CERL funding is a water-based, universal adhesion promoter that will enable applying house paint to a wide range of substrates in many environments. The second is a water-based, corrosion-resistant monocoat (one coating that serves as a protective primer and a colored topcoat) that will minimize VOC emissions and simplify the coating process.
The project’s results could be used on a wide range of painting projects, from residential homes to large commercial buildings.
Light yet strong
High-strength structural adhesives that cure at lower temperatures are necessary to enable the fuel-efficient lightweight vehicles of the future. In collaboration with the CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center, we are developing adhesives that are stronger than commercially available materials – especially when subjected to blasts or collisions.
Both the military and automakers are using more lightweight materials like carbon-fiber composites in their vehicles for fuel efficiency, but these materials can be damaged by high-cure temperatures. For this project, we are taking our high-strength adhesive prototypes and identifying ways to cure them at temperatures below 176 F (80 C).