Provexa continues after the successful Provexa Earth® process with the new patented Provexa Pluto®. Using graphene and other materials, coating gains completely new characteristics in electric conductivity and friction. Now a full scale production line is set up.
Not much has been heard for a while about graphene, the wonder material that in 2010 was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics. For some time, it was speculated what it could be used for. Nobody could imagine a new and revolutionary surface coating method.
It started as Anders Skalsky, development manager at Provexa, read a scientific paper on water-based suspension of graphene, which would enable graphene to be used in coating.
– We ordered graphene and started testing in the lab. We got it to work after a lot of research and development, Anders Skalsky remembers.
Graphene has a number of attractive properties for coating. It is electrically conductive, strong, light, and reduces friction.
– The process we developed works, but we wanted to understand why. We contacted scientists, and together we figured out the reason.
The pre-study was financed in full by Provexa. The result was awarded by the government innovation office Vinnova. Vinnova also provided funds so that Provexa could develop a complete process together with scientists at Chalmers Industriteknik AB, Swerea IVF, and a Norwegian institute of science. The process was thoroughly tested. The first test samples have been installed at exposed locations on vehicles for more than two years.
In the beginning, Anders and his colleagues thought that it would be a smaller process than the world-patented Earth, so they humbly decided to name their innovation “Pluto”.
Early attention hints that Pluto has greater potential than Earth, which had become a success faster than anticipated. There are negotiations about licensing Earth to other producers, but Provexa will keep the exclusive rights to their creation for Scandinavia.
– We call our R&D effort “Vintergatan”, Swedish for the Milky Way. In hindsight, and considering the potential, we should have perhaps chosen a bigger planet.
Anders emphasises that Pluto is an independent innovation, not further development of Earth. Earth is however the perfect first coating, and the result of Earth and Pluto in combination is a complete coating. It is aimed at vehicle and marine applications as well as the construction industry.
The process involves more than graphene, but graphene contributes many of the unique properties of the process. It is a very thin coating, only 10 micrometres, with great corrosive resistance and capacity to control friction and conductivity. The product can also be dyed. The thin coating makes the underlying metal structure visible, as with anodising.
No nickel is good for the environment
Earth and Pluto both share the same environment considerations. The difference is that the new process has an abrasion-resistant coating. The combination of both allows for top notch corrosive resistance without nickel, which is good for the environment.
Provexa has applied for a world patent for Pluto. This is the fifth in-house developed process, but it will not be the last. According to Anders Skalsky, the names of the other planets in the solar system are already slotted for new ideas.
A combined production line for Pluto and Earth is under construction, and will be in operation in 2019.
Thanks to graphene, Pluto has several unique properties, Anders Skalsky says.