May 2005

Keronite coating makes light metals tougher

Cambridge, England— New surface treatment technology developed by Keronite Ltd, the Cambridge-based technology company, is set to make a significant contribution to efforts to reduce the impact of cars on the environment. The Keronite process enables car manufacturers to use lighter metals in their vehicles and so cut fuel consumption and emissions.

The automotive industry is currently under increasing pressure from governments and public opinion to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. According to U.S. Government sources, every 10% reduction in vehicle weight represents a 7% reduction in fuel consumption and associated emissions. The obvious solution to produce lighter vehicles is countermanded by customer demands for more on-board features and heavier vehicles such as SUVs.

For the automotive industry, Keronite Ltd believes that the only way to improve environmental performance without compromising on other consumer requirements, is an extensive program of materials substitution. The Keronite process makes it possible to use magnesium and aluminum alloys in place of steel - with significant attendant environmental benefits. USCAR (US Council for Automotive Research) figures indicate that each time 10kg of steel is replaced by 4kg of magnesium; there is a savings of at least 100kg of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of the vehicle. This would mean a savings of 4 million tons if every passenger car produced worldwide made such a substitution.

Keronite surface treatment technology uses plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) to convert the surface of light metals such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium into an extremely hard, dense ceramic with outstanding properties in terms of resistance to corrosion and wear. An immersion process, Keronite is used to treat the inner as well as the outer surface of the most complex shapes and is being used successfully across a range of industries.

The Keronite process has other environmental benefits beyond allowing material substitution. Unlike conventional treatments, the Keronite electrolyte solutions contain no chrome or other heavy metals, no ammonia, no acids and the process generates no hazardous waste. Initial tests carried out for a leading automotive manufacturer also indicate that magnesium components coated with Keronite appear to present no problems when it comes to recycling.

 


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