Scientist at DOE's Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, have found a material that is very hard and slicker than teflon by a factor of 2.5X.
A superhard substance that is more slippery than Teflon could protect mechanical parts from wear and tear, and boost energy efficiency by reducing friction.I think they mean 1999.
The "ceramic alloy" is created by combining a metal alloy of boron, aluminium and magnesium (AlMgB14) with titanium boride (TiB2). It is the hardest material after diamond and cubic boron nitride.
BAM, as the material is called, was discovered at the US Department of Energy Ames Laboratory in Iowa in 199, during attempts to develop a substance to generate electricity when heated.
Those chance findings have now developed into a $3-million programme at the Ames Lab to develop the BAM into a kind of eternal lubricant, a coating for moving parts to boost energy efficiency and longevity by reducing friction.Ultimately it would mean multi-billion dollar savings per year. Think of what it would mean to reduce friction in automotive bearings by a factor of 8 and in addition eliminate the need for oil changes. Obviously there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get us from here to there.
BAM is much slipperier than Teflon, with a coefficient of friction of .02 compared to .05. Lubricated steel has a friction coefficient of 0.16.
One way to exploit this slipperiness is to coat the rotor blades in everyday pumps used in everything from heating systems to aircraft, says Russel. A slick BAM coating of just 2 microns could reduce friction between the blades and their housing, meaning less power is needed to produce the same pumping power.
Bruce Cook, lead investigator on the Ames Lab project, estimates that merely coating rotors with the material could save US industry alone 330 trillion kilojoules (9 billion kilowatt hours) every year by 2030 - about $179 million a year.
BAM is also potentially attractive as a hard coating for drill bits and other cutting tools. Diamond is commonly used for this, and is harder, but it reacts chemically with steel and so degrades relatively quickly when used to cut the metal.
One of the things this article points out is that you never know what you will find when you start looking - if you are paying attention.
Cross Posted at Classical Values