Funding for nanotech-enabled anti-corrosion technology

May 21, 2009: Washington Technology Center (WTC) has awarded an Entrepreneur’s Access grant to the University of Washington to support an advanced material research collaboration with Modumetal Inc., a Seattle-based developer of nanostructured materials.

The project is titled, “Functionally-Graded Preceramic Polymer Coating for Corrosion Resistant Commercial Sulfuric Acid Pipelines.”

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the exceptional researchers at the University of Washington to create this cutting-edge material for new commercial anti-corrosion application,” says Leslie Warren, Modumetal’s Project Manager and senior engineer in this effort. Christina Lomasney, the company’s CEO said that “with support from partners like the WTC and University of Washington, Modumetal is poised to create a new technology that will have broad industrial application and will result in new jobs and economic growth in our region.”

Sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive substance used extensively in industrial processes. Typical anti-corrosion coatings have a weakness — if breached, they leave the metal surface underneath the coating vulnerable to acid attack. Modumetal has a unique production method that eliminates this surface weakness by allowing anti-corrosion materials to be functionally combined with metal.

With this project, the team of Modumetal and UW Professor Rajendra Bordia, Ph.D., plans to modify a preceramic polymer system developed at the University to merge with a functionally graded materials system developed by Modumetal for corrosion protection of commercial sulfuric acid production pipelines for ConocoPhillips.

“This project combines the research that has been done at the University of Washington and at Modumetal to develop a novel solution for a significant problem in the area of corrosion,” said Dr. Bordia. “The short term EA funding from WTC gives us a chance to initiate this joint development and prepares us for long term collaboration with Modumetal. The need for corrosion resistant coatings is widespread and the proposed solution that we will be exploring with Modumetal has the potential to impact a broad range of industries.”

Modumetal expects that successful application of this technology will lead to many opportunities in the $300 million corrosion-prevention market.
The $5,000 award for this project comes from an Entrepreneur’s Access grant from Washington Technology Center (WTC). WTC competitively awards around $1 million in state funding annually for research and technology development projects. State funding enables collaboration between companies and non-profit research institutions on technology projects that show strong potential for commercializing products and creating jobs. Since 1996, the state has funded 330 research and technology development projects.

“This grant is a great example of state government at its best,” said Washington State Representative Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle). “The seed money from WTC, combined with world-class research facilities at the University of Washington and the innovative entrepreneurs at Modumetal, will create jobs and help the state maintain its lead in technology.”

Modumetal was co-founded in 2006 in Seattle to realize the commercial potential of a unique class of advanced materials. Modumetal is creating nanolaminated and functionally graded materials that will change design and manufacturing by dramatically improving the structural, corrosion and high temperature performance of coatings, bulk materials and parts. Modumetal represents a whole new way of producing parts and is leveraging nanotechnology to achieve this unprecedented performance. Modumetal is made by a “green” electrochemical manufacturing approach, which reduces the carbon footprint of conventional metals manufacturing at the same time that it redefines materials performance.


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