ATSP Innovations, a startup at the EnterpriseWorks tech incubator in the University of Illinois Research Park, has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant totaling more than $480,000 from the National Science Foundation. This project will facilitate the development of a new family of polymers (Aromatic ThermoSetting coPolyesters, or ATSP) for application to tribological (friction-bearing) surfaces for compressors used in air conditioning and refrigeration. Surface treatments/coatings are key to improving wear performance and durability in a wide range of applications, and ATSP’s technology already has attracted significant interest from major corporate partners.
After achieving success during a Phase I award showing good wear properties, the project’s broader impact is that it may springboard the development of lower-cost, more versatile, more energy-efficient wear coatings. This coating has strong commercialization potential; anything with moving parts could benefit from this material, ranging from consumer appliances to large-scale industrial equipment.
ATSP can be processed into highly effective wear-resistant coatings by blending with polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) and other additives. Key features of the new material are thermal stability at temperatures required to process with PTFE (350-450 °C) and its excellent tribological properties, with several samples of selected compositions evidencing “zero” wear and low friction coefficient values that remained stable during testing — both important attributes for a long-term wear coating. Additional advantages are the ability to undergo interchain transesterification reactions, permitting reincorporation of wear debris into the coating, and good adhesion to metals such as stainless steel and cast iron. Technical objectives in the Phase II include tailoring the polymer backbone to improve powder/coating properties, optimizing thermal spray parameters for this industrial relevant process, and perform both in-house and customer-based evaluations.
About ATSP: ATSP Innovations is developing a new family of polymers called Aromatic Thermosetting Copolyesters for use in tribological, structural, high temperature, and electronic applications. The company was co-founded by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Prof. James Economy, a faculty member in the Department of Material Science and Engineering, and Prof. Andreas Polycarpou, a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. ATSP Innovations is located in EntepriseWorks incubator in the University of Illinois Research Park.