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BAM! It's More Slippery Than Teflon (And Greener)

BAM - or boron-aluminum-magnesium alloy combined with titanium boride is super hard and slicker than Teflon. This "ceramic alloy" is the hardest material after diamond and cubic boron nitride. It's "greener" because it could save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy wasted every year in overcoming friction.

“If you consider a pump, like a water pump or a hydraulic pump, it has a turbine that moves the fluid,” said Bruce Cook, an Ames Laboratory scientist and co-principal investigator on the four-year, $3 million project. “When the rotor spins, there’s friction generated at the contacting surface between the vanes and the housing, or stator. This friction translates into additional torque needed to operate the pump, particularly at start-up. In addition, the friction results in a degradation of the surfaces, which reduces efficiency and the life of the pump. It takes extra energy to get the pump started, and you can’t run it at its optimum (higher speed) efficiency because it would wear out more quickly.”

BAM is being touted as a lubricant coating that never needs to be replanished; it has a coefficient of friction of just 0.02 (Teflon is 0.05). Lubricated steel's coefficient of friction is 0.16.

Experts believe that coating rotor blades in pumps in common use in households and industry could save $180 million per year (9 billion kilowatt hours of energy).


(Ceramic alloy coating made of boron, aluminum and magnesium)
The substrate is the mottled structure on the left-hand side of the photo and the coating is the thin, darker strip running along the edge of the steel.

The piece of steel in the picture shown above has a coating of BAM just 2-3 micrometers thick. See if it sounds like the frictionless coating provided by aliens in Clifford Simak's 1965 novel Way Station:

It was as if the knob was covered with some hard, slick coating, like a coat of brittle ice, on which the fingers slipped wihout exerting any pressure on the knob...

There was something covering this house which made it slick and smooth - so smooth that dust could not cling upon its surface nor could weather stain it.
(Read more about Simak's frictionless coating)

Sounds like a pretty close match to me.

From Tough Nanocoatings Boost Industrial Energy Efficiency via Material slicker than Teflon discovered by accident.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/26/2008)

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