Toward Greener Manufacturing

Prof. Marek Sosnowki is helping the U.S. Army reduce hazardous wastes generated by the manufacture of weapons. 

Improving manufacturing processes while reducing their environmental impact is the goal of research by Marek Sosnowski, associate professor of electrical engineering. Working with NJIT's Sustainable Green Manufacturing Program under a grant from the U.S. Army, he has developed a method to reduce the hazardous wastes generated in the manufacture of military weapons. The technique involves depositing a thin film of tantalum on steel to replace the chromium coating currently used inside gun barrels. Chromium has been found to be a serious environmental hazard, producing highly toxic waste during the electroplating and anodizing process. Tantalum, a very tough metal that has a high melting point and immunity to chemical attack, eliminates environmental concerns and also resolves technical problems of wear and corrosion from new high-energy propellants. The tantalum coatings are deposited by sputtering, a process utilizing electrical discharge in gas at low pressure, or plasma, which does not generate hazardous waste. The sputtering process, developed in the Ion Beam and Thin Film Laboratory, produces superior tantalum coatings on steel. The results are being evaluated by the Army researchers at Benet Laboratories in New York and in the Army Research Laboratory in Maryland.