From Science Daily:

The metal components that make up industrial machines are subject to tremendous wear and tear. But a newly patented technology by Distinguished Fellow Ali Erdemir and his team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory could greatly extend the lifetime of mechanical parts.

To protect machinery and increase longevity, several methods of surface hardening have been developed including pack-boriding, which lays down a boride layer on metal pieces through the diffusion of boron.

Erdemir’s work is a departure from this conventional boriding technique, which is both time-consuming and energy-intensive. Instead, his team came up with a process for ultra-fast boriding, a process that saves time, money and energy, and even alleviates environmental concerns.

In three years, Erdemir and his team took an abstract concept and turned it into an industrial-scale furnace that can deposit a boride layer 100 micrometers thick in half an hour.

To achieve this same thickness, pack-boriding would need approximately 10 hours.

Now, just a few years after completing the process, Erdemir’s group has been awarded a utility patent covering the ultra-fast nature of the technology, the range of materials that can be treated and several specific steps in the process of ultra-fast boriding.

Erdemir described the new technology as “clean and green, cost-effective and energy-efficient.”

Where pack-boriding involves baking parts in a complex mix of powders — at 1,800°F, often for 10 hours or more — the ultra-fast method uses a battery-like design to channel reactive boron into metal surfaces. Like a battery, the…

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