Solid Lubricant Coating Is NASA's Invention Of The Year

Cleveland, Ohio – Engineers at NASA's Glenn Research Center have invented a new solid lubricant coating for high-temperature wear applications. Called PS/PM400, the alloy performs in temperatures ranging from approximately -150°C to greater than 900°C. It has been formulated to provide high density, smooth surface finish, and excellent dimensional stability with low complexity and expense in fabrication. This alloy is a significant upgrade over not only traditional lubricants such as oil and grease, but also solid lubricants like graphite or other carbon-based composite materials.

For that reason, NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board selected Glenn’s PS/PM400 as NASA's 2018 Government and Commercial Invention of the Year winner.

“NASA Glenn is a world leader in developing advanced materials for extreme environments. Over the past several years we have worked very hard to get our technologies out to industry to boost American economic competitiveness,” said Dr. John Sankovic, director, Office of Technology Incubation and Innovation. “Being recognized as the winner of both the NASA Government and NASA Commercial Invention of the Year is a tremendous recognition of our efforts.”

Senior Technologist Dr. Christopher DellaCorte, and recent Glenn retiree Brian J. Edmonds, are the inventors of PS/PM400, a self-lubricating alloy material developed for coating superalloys, applicable in many NASA technologies. PS400 is the coating version of the lubricant composite applied via plasma spray (PS) techniques, while PM 400 is the free-standing solid version of the lubricant composite made via powder metallurgy (PM) processes.

This innovation offers immediate benefits for numerous applications, such as rocket engines, aircraft turbines, and steam generation. It is widely used in foil air bearings for aircraft, as well as in other types of bearings, bushings, and valves supporting state-of-the-art NASA engine design. Glenn licensed the technology to ADMA and Hohman Plating; both are developing this technology for the automotive industry in applications such as exhaust-system parts and gas recirculation valves. NASA licensees are also working with unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturers, large equipment manufacturers, and companies needing a high-performing material.