UT materials scientists support innovation in a major German company
One of the biggest gas companies in the world, the German chemistry giant Linde AG, who is represented in the Baltic and Nordic countries by its subsidiary AGA, is building an industrial pilot plant based on the prototype created by the thin film technology specialists of the University of Tartu.
Linde supplies gases for industries, medicine and environmental measurements, inert gases for research laboratories, and several specific high-precision gas mixtures.
As many of the gases corrode metals or generate rust, alloy steels or expensive aluminium materials are needed for their transportation or storage. A cheaper alternative is to cover the internal surfaces of gas cylinders with an ultrathin material, which considerably decreases corrosion.
However, the problem is that gas cylinders are closed spaces with just one small opening, which makes access to their interior very complicated. The added coating must not alter the qualities of the container’s material or affect the high-precision gas mixture in the container. The coating must also withstand the mandatory periodic pressure tests. Namely in such conditions the atomic layer deposition (ALD) reactor created by UT materials scientists is useful.
With the help of an ALD reactor, materials can be covered atom by atom with an ultrathin anti-corrosion protective coating. Both the reactor and this efficient anti-corrosive nanomaterial is the fruit of the years-long research of UT thin film technologists.
“As you see, the prototype is ready and it works!” says UT thin film technology engineer Lauri Aarik, one of its creators, pleased. “We are applying for a patent to it in Europe, USA, Japan and globally.”
Whether the industrial plant is useful, will be clear in coming months, when it is started up – Aarik and Sammelselg are optimistic. The company has already requested training on the operation of the plant for their employees from the UT laboratory.
The German gas company Linde is the first one to test in production our researchers’ ALD plant for processing cylinders, but a similar solution could be useful also for other companies who have problems with corrosion, including in aviation and medicine, adds Sammelselg.
Additional information: Väino Sammelselg, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Head of Department of Materials Science, 737 4705, vaino.sammelselg [ät] ut.ee