There’s a new pen in town!
For the last five years, ACerS Director of Communications Peter Wray has been the dominant voice of the engineered ceramics blogosphere. In fact, he started it. He was hired in 2008 to establish a “web presence” for the Society by then-executive director, Scott Steen. And, wow, did he ever!
Peter came to ACerS after retiring from the Ohio Civil Services Employee Association, where he directed the public relations department. “I was looking for something to do for about five years until my wife retired,” he says. “Coming to ACerS was sort of like a hobby, but with a lot of interesting challenges, interesting technology, and interesting people.”
He established the Ceramic Tech Weekly blog with weekly updates of news and trends relating to ceramic engineering and science (see an early post here). Quickly, it grew to Ceramic Tech Today with daily updates that are broadly distributed in a twice-weekly email. Peter also was editor of the ACerS Bulletin and published a number of memorable articles on topics such as concrete recycling in Haiti, wound-healing glass, and Pyrex cookware.
Long story, short—Mrs. Wray retired in January. Peter stayed true to his plan and retired in February. Well, sort of. He is still working with us part-time to produce CTT posts, videos, and some special projects.
As we bid an affectionate “adieu” to Peter, we are pleased to welcome a new member to our team. Jim Destefani joined our staff yesterday as associate editor and will be writing CTT posts, editing the ACerS Bulletin, reporting on conferences, and following the news and trends regarding our favorite materials.
Jim brings a depth of technical magazine publishing experience to ACerS, with particular expertise in the manufacturing and metalworking areas. He worked previously for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers as well as for several for-profit business-to-business publishers.
We are excited to have Jim on our staff and look forward to his contributions.
Hydroxyl terminated MXene Ti3C2 with monolayers of hydrazine molecules between the MXene layers. Credit: Vadym Mochalin, Drexel University.
The cover story of the April issue of the ACerS Bulletin described the interesting family of carbides and nitrides known as the MAX phases. Their name refers to their composition, where M is a transition metal, A is an ‘A’ group element from the periodic table (specifically the subset of elements 13-16), and X is carbon or nitrogen. Investigators discovered the materials about 40 years ago, and research on these materials really picked up in the mid-1990s. As the article details, the layered-structure MAX phases have properties typical of metals, as well as properties typical of ceramics.
The locus of activity on the resurgent research on the MAX phases is Drexel University in the laboratories of Yury Gogotsi and Michel Barsoum (and extends now to Texas A&M in Barsoum protégé Miladin Radovic’s group).
In 2004, when they were about 10 years into their work on the MAX phases, graphene was “discovered” by a British and Russian team of physicists, setting off a flood of research on two-dimensional materials. The Drexel team thought they, too, might be able to make 2D materials from the MAX phases by selectively removing the ‘A’ constituent. They named these compounds MXenes as a reference to their M and X constituents and structural similarity to graphene.
Like graphene, the materials have good electrical properties and can be intercalated. If the layers can be made thin enough, a host of interesting applications opens up, such as lithium-ion battery electrodes and electrochemical capacitors (supercapacitors). In a new paper in Nature Communications, they report new work on several titanium carbide compounds-Ti3C2, Ti3CN, and TiNbC-that were synthesized by selectively removing aluminum from the corresponding MAX phases.
Computer simulations indicated it might be possible to store a large amount of charge by delaminating (or exfoliating) the MXene layers, but large-scale delamination had been elusive, according to a university press release. Recently, the Drexel team successfully delaminated MXene layers by intercalating with organic molecules. Gogotsi, an author on the paper, explains in an email, “Intercalation reactions, like the one shown [in the image], establish MXenes as full-fledged members of the growing family of 2D materials.”
They were able to make paper like MXene by filtering flakes from the solution. The “paper” is reportedly flexible and electrically conductive. According to the press release, “Critically, this work demonstrates that such material can be synthesized on a large scale.”
Even more, the lithium-ion storage capacity of the paper like MXene was four times that of typical MXene at, according to the abstract, extremely high charging rates. Results also show that the 2D material’s charge-discharge cycle performs better than graphite, which is the material now used for lithium-ion battery anodes.
Gogotsi says in the press release, “By demonstrating chemical intercalation of organic molecules between MXene layers, we have substantially altered properties of MXenes. By separating MXene sheets via intercalation, we produced excellent materials for electrodes of batteries and electrochemical capacitors. “
The team also thinks that 2D MXenes made by intercalation delamination may be used in composites, sensors, catalysis, and other applications.
This video shows the process developed by MesoCoat (Euclid, Ohio) to clad the interior surface of carbon steel pipe with a corrosion-resistant stainless steel layer. The company celebrated a “grand opening” last week. Credit: MesoCoat; YouTube.
The “Rust Belt” is going to need a new moniker if new work by entrepreneurs and researchers in the Great Lakes region is any indicator. One way the region is rejuvenating itself is, ironically, by fighting rust.
Corrosion is very expensive-its relentless gnawing costs the US about $7 billion per year. Also, new applications, especially in the oil and gas industry, are known to be highly corrosive environments.
Andrew Sherman, a Cleveland-area engineer and serial entrepreneur, got to thinking about what it would take to get the performance of a stainless steel in the guise of a carbon steel, the latter, of course, being much less costly than the former. He realized that what really mattered was that the “business” surface of a pipeline needs to look and act like a stainless steel; it matters less what the rest of the object is.
The idea is not new; corrosion protection coatings and claddings have been used for a long time, extending back into the BC era. In modern industrial times, weld overlay claddings are the state-of-the-art technology for corrosion protection of pipeline. However, the weld overlay process is slow because it lays down the coating one line at a time.
Sherman licensed a high-intensity plasma arc lamp technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, hired a few sharp metallurgists from Case Western Reserve University, and developed a new process for rapidly applying rugged, corrosion-resistant claddings on carbon steel pipe. When it looked like the new coating technology would be effective, Sherman started up a new company, MesoCoat, which is a spin-off from his other company, Powdermet. The company and its technology picked up some plum accolades last year when the Wall Street Journal gave it top honors in the manufacturing technology category of the publication’s Technology Innovation Awards. Earlier, in 2011, Forbes listed MesoCoat as one of the top 100 most promising domestic companies.
About three years ago I was at the groundbreaking ceremony for MesoCoat’s new manufacturing facility in Euclid, Ohio, and last Friday I was invited back to the facility’s grand opening. (See pictures below.)
In his welcoming remarks, Sherman said, “Corrosion is preventable through good policy and good science. Very few of our corrosion problems cannot be solved in terms of technology, but [many current solutions] are not economically feasible.”
The MesoCoat–Powdermet campus occupies about 13 acres of facilities that used to be home to TRW during its military-industrial heyday. As you can imagine, the local dignitaries were delighted to be at a grand opening of a new research and manufacturing plant. Besides city and state politicians, representatives from Case Western Reserve University, the University of Akron, ASM International, suppliers, contractors, and local industry were also there.
Sherman, who is CEO of the company, said in his remarks that three years ago MesoCoat had one employee—now it employs about 60. The largest market for the clad pipe is the oil and gas industry, “The markets are unbelievable,” he says. According to a cleveland.com article, MesoCoat’s business model expects to achieve revenues of $400–500 million in three years.
Because of its weight and shipping costs, it is most economical to produce pipe somewhat close to where it will be used. MesoCoat and its parent company, Abakan, are working on getting production facilities up and running in Brazil and Canada, too, even while they continue to work out the manufacturing details in Ohio.
Meanwhile, the June-July issue of the ACerS Bulletin will feature an article by the University of Buffalo group led by Sarbajit Banerjee on their work on nanocomposite corrosion prevention coatings. The group reports that their graphene/polymer and graphene/carbon nanotube/polymer coatings on steel can reduce corrosion rates by several orders of magnitude compared to galvanized steels. The idea behind the research is to discover and develop new coating materials with superior functionality that can be applied using existing manufacturing processes.
So, if the “Rust Belt” is no longer descriptive of the Great Lakes region, what is? Any ideas?
- Libbey’s sales for Q1 2013 were $183.5 million, compared to $187.8 million, a decrease of 2.3 percent. CEO Stephanie Streeter said there had been a sales decline in the USA and Canada but Mexico and Latin America had reported a sales increase.
- US manufacturer O-I was hit by a European slump in the first quarter of 2013. Its operating profit dropped to $226 million, down from $260 million in the prior year; higher operating profits in South America and Asia Pacific were more than offset by lower results in Europe.
- Italian glass manufacturer Bormioli Rocco has bought a majority stake in Neubor Glass, based in San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy, producing high specification glassware for use in the pharmaceutical sector. The acquisition will increase Bormioli Rocco’s production capacity with the construction of a new furnace at Neubor Glass to manufacture moulded flint type I glass.
- Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, said first-quarter sales dropped 4.8 percent amid a construction slump and cold weather in Europe; sales declined to 9.7 billion euros ($12.6 billion). CEO Pierre-Andre de Chalendar is cutting investments, selling businesses and raising prices to adjust to the European car and construction slump that has hurt demand for flat glass and building materials and put the company’s credit rating under pressure.
- Mayerton Holdings Ltd, a refractory engineering solutions provider and a castable and refractories brick manufacturer, announces it has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of its 100 percent equity interest in Dalian Mayerton Refractories Co. Ltd. to Magnesita Refratarios SA. DMR is a refractory brick manufacturing facility in Dalian, China (Liaoning Province).
Looking forward to GOMD—Phillips to speak at honorary symposium; Varshneya reprises glass short course
James C. Phillips, who will speak at GOMD a symposium in his honor, discusses the idea of “big data” in this YouTube video, “Six Impossible Things.” Credit: YouTube.
Have you ever met a verb?
This is how I think of people who are all action. They have a great deal of energy, seem to be always in motion, and their enormous intellectual curiosity generates new ideas at a dizzying pace. Because they move so fast, their intellectual wakes cut a wide swath.
Allow me to highlight three of the “verbs” that will be at the Glass and Optical Materials Division Annual Meeting that will take place in conjunction with PACRIM 10, June 2-7. They are James Charles Phillips, Arun Varshneya, and John Mauro.
Phillips (Verb #1) will be honored in the aptly named, “James C. Phillips Honorary Symposium.” The symposium’s eight sessions span the entire five days of the conference’s technical program! Phillips, who celebrated his 80th birthday in March, is a condensed matter physicist by training, but his influence appears to be boundless.
The symposium organizer, Corning researcher John Mauro (Verb #2) says of Phillips, “Every decade since he began working, he has made huge contributions to science.”
Phillips is credited with developing semiconductor pseudopotential theory in the 1950s, which provided the basis for more than 30,000 published articles on the electronic structure of materials. In the 1960s, he dove into understanding superconductivity tunneling mechanisms. According to a Wikipedia biography, his microscopic theory of superconductive tunneling usurped the prevailing theory of the time, which had been proposed by the late Nobel-laureate, John Bardeen.
Phillips earned BS and MS degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in algebraic topology. In the 1970s, the full weight of that education and research backgrounds led to the development of the topological constraint theory of glasses, in particular, as it applies to the optimization of glassy networks.
And, this is the point of intersection among the three “verbs” of this story. While Arun Varshneya (Verb #3) was a professor at Alfred University, he introduced Mauro—who was then an undergraduate student in glass science—to Phillips’ papers on topological constraint theory. The ideas resonated with Mauro, and he developed them further in his PhD work. At Corning Inc., Mauro used topological constraint theory to engineer Gorilla Glass 3, as explained in an earlier post.
“Jim works at the intersection of physics and glass,” Mauro says. “Not many of us work in both fields. He is interested not only in knowing the science of glass, but also in applying it to glass, including industrial glass.”
However, Mauro notes, “Jim’s work as a condensed matter physicist has so much influence in traditional fields and others,” as his work in the 1980s and 1990s gives witness. In the 1980s, he made significant contributions to theory of high temperature superconductors, and in the 1990s, he contributed new discoveries about disordered networks to the field.
In a 2011 lecture on “big data” posted on YouTube, Phillips quips, “One of the things physicists worry about is that there is nothing left to do.” Phillips is proof to the contrary. As the 21st century unfolds, he is applying his considerable intellectual talents and experience to detecting and fighting cancer. The new research involves taking theories used to optimize glass design and applying them to protein design. Phillips will provide the details himself in his talk, “Curing cancer using engineered viruses,” on Wednesday afternoon (June 5) at 2:00 p.m.
Varshneya, now professor emeritus of glass science at Alfred University, will be teaching a short course at GOMD: “Fundamentals of Glass Science.” He traditionally teaches this course at GOMD and usually to a full-capacity crowd.
It is not possible to separate Varshneya-the-glassman from Varshneya-the-teacher. Varshneya says he knew he would be a teacher from a young age. “I loved teaching ever since I was an 8th grader back in India,” where he tutored some of his classmates in the basics of math and science. “I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher some day,” he writes in an email.
As a teacher, he says his primary objective is to motivate his students to learn more, starting with the basics. The short course is designed for professionals working in other scientific or engineering disciplines and builds on their knowledge and experience, like “dendrites attempting to develop lots of branches,” he says. This year, he says, he plans to incorporate more examples from everyday life to demonstrate glass science principles and practices.
I’ve sat in on Varshneya’s course. He is a verb.