Online Exclusives

North Dakota Research Foundation Works With Coatings Industry to Develop Innovative Products

By Kerry Pianoforte, Editor | April 23, 2014

NDSURF recently concluded a license agreement with Elinor Specialty Coatings of Fargo, North Dakota, for a breakthrough hexavalent chromium-free coatings technology.

The NDSU Research Foundation (NDSURF) is a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit associated with North Dakota State University (NDSU).  It was founded in 1989.  NDSURF is set up to own, manage, and license intellectual property that is developed at NDSU and assigned to it.  NDSURF does not have any labs, itself.  The scientific work is all done at NDSU.  NDSU’s enrollment for fall semester of 2013 was 14,629, which included 2,335 graduate students and 345 professional students. More than 700 faculty work at NDSU.

“NDSU is a land grant university and recently joined the nation’s top 108 public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of ‘Research Universities/Very High Research Activity,’” said Dale Zetocha, executive director of NDSU Research Foundation.

The NDSURF recently concluded a license agreement with Elinor Specialty Coatings of Fargo, North Dakota, for a breakthrough hexavalent chromium-free coatings technology. The patented coatings technology protects aluminum alloys, such as those found in vehicle and ship parts, or in vehicles made entirely from aluminum.

The licensing agreement gives Elinor Specialty Coatings exclusive rights in marine and automotive markets to further develop and commercialize the patented coatings technology developed at North Dakota State University, Fargo.

The magnesium-rich technology will be used in primers marketed to both the military and civilian auto and shipbuilding industries under the trade names Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM . According to Elinor Specialty Coatings, the coatings will provide viable alternatives in manufacturing and maintenance, without the toxicity of hexavalent chromium Cr(VI). The products are designed to be applied over chromium-free pre-treatments or bare metal, eliminating Cr(VI) entirely from the coating system.
it is highly effective at inhibiting corrosion of high strength aluminum. The magnesium technology formulated for Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM at NDSU and now licensed by Elinor Specialty Coatings for marine and automotive use, provides the first non-chrome corrosion inhibiting system to perform as well as, or better than chromate in laboratory and field testing, according to Battocchi.

Potential benefits of the new technology include:  reduced costs by eliminating the need for mandatory extra control measures designed to reduce exposure to chromate; and potential lower density than chromate primers, thus reducing weight and resulting in lower fuel consumption. According to Battocchi, many manufacturers currently rely on toxic coatings designed for steel, which aren’t nearly as effective on aluminum as the Aluma45TM primers.

“We are thrilled to see another more environmentally-friendly coating technology reach the market through Elinor Specialty Coatings,” said Zetocha. “This is the second license from NDSURF to Elinor Specialty Coatings LLC.  NDSURF has previously licensed a bronze coating technology to the company.”

North Dakota State University researchers playing a role in years of development of the patented Cr-free Mg-rich technology used in Aluma45-MTM and Aluma45-ATM include Dr. Gordon Bierwagen, Dr. Dante Battocchi, and Dr. Michael E. Nanna. Previous research funding that resulted in the development of these coatings was provided by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research; the Center for Surface Protection, a state Economic Development Center of Excellence at North Dakota State University; and the Product Design Center at NDSU.

NDSURF has licensed a number of technologies that have been developed at NDSU.  These include Novel Coatings for Outdoor Bronzes, Water Dispersible Epoxy Urethane Compounds and Coating Compositions and Efficient Processes to Produce Polyalkylated Oligo-ethyl-polyamines. A complete list can be found on their website at

NDSU has many research collaborations with industry.  Many of these research collaborations are through the NDSU Coatings and Polymeric Materials Department; the NDSU Center for Surface Protection; and NDSU Center for Naoscale Science and Engineering.

Scientists at NDSU have developed a number of paints and coatings that can be found at http://ndsuresearch  The website includes catalogs of paints and coatings by application that are available for licensing.
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