The Identification of a Non-PFAS Corrosion Inhibitor

37 Submissions
202 Views
$20,000 USD
Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview

OVERVIEW

Hydraulic oil, while playing an important role in enhancing the performance of industrial equipment, can cause corrosion of its parts by way of electrochemical oxidation.

To prevent this from happening, anti-corrosion additives are added to hydraulic oil. For now, the only known additives that provide sufficient protection while tolerating the harsh chemical environment of a phosphate ester base oil are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Due to their high stability, PFAS additives can accumulate at high levels in the air, water, and soil, which has put them under severe regulatory scrutiny.

The goal of this Challenge is to find an equally efficient but more environmentally friendly substitute for PFAS – or an alternative approach to protect industrial equipment from corrosion caused by electrochemical oxidation.

This is a Prize Challenge which requires a written proposal to be submitted. Awards will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of the proposals by the Seeker, followed by experimental validation of a few, most promising, proposals. There will be a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution. The total payout will be $20,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $10,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500. By submitting a proposal, the Solver grants the Seeker a right to use any information included in their proposal.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 16, 2024. 

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THE CHALLENGE

Background

Hydraulic oil, whether conventional or synthetic, plays an important role in enhancing the performance of industrial equipment: it reduces friction and wear of its moving parts, which helps improve efficiency, reduce emissions, and extend equipment life.

However, under the high temperature of engine operation (120°C [250°F]), hydraulic oil itself can cause corrosion of steel components of the engine, especially when flowing through narrow spaces. The immediate cause of corrosion is electrochemical oxidation of metal surfaces driven by electrokinetic streaming current.

To prevent corrosion from happening, anti-corrosion additives are added to hydraulic oil. The additives typically increase the electrical conductivity of the oil and thereby cause a decrease in the amount of charge at the area of contact with the metal surfaces.

Unfortunately, the only known additives that provide this protection while tolerating the harsh chemical environment of a phosphate ester base oil are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS additives represent a diverse group of thousands of chemicals that all have a very strong carbon-fluorine bond, which makes them resistant to degradation.

PFAS additives are widely used in many applications, and their use, combined with their stability, has resulted in increased levels of contamination of the air, water, and soil. This has put PFAS under severe regulatory scrutiny; it seems that it’s only a matter of time that the use of PFAS will be dramatically restricted, if not banned outright.

Efforts are therefore underway to find a suitable, more environmentally friendly, substitute for PFAS.

The Challenge

The Seeker has tested a few hundred additives to replace the PFAS but, unfortunately, has not found any that provide the necessary protection while being stable for a long time at high operating temperature.

A wide variety of ionic pairs have been tested, many of them at different concentrations. Positive moieties that been tested included lithium, sodium, potassium, ammonium, zinc, phosphonium, and ammonium. Negative moieties included iodides, bromides, chlorides, borates, sulphates, and cyanamides, as well as some phosphates, sulfonates, and acetates. None of the tested ionic pairs has shown the desired performance.

The Seeker therefore wants to identify a non-PFAS compound, i.e., the one that doesn’t have a carbon-fluorine bond, that could provide protection against electrochemical corrosion by increasing, for example, the electrical conductivity of oil—while retaining this ability at high temperature.

However, the Seeker also envisions that an alternative, completely novel mechanism for anti-corrosion protection—the one that doesn’t require a PFAS additive at all—could be proposed.

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS

Depending on specific approach, the proposed solution should meet the following Solution Requirements:

  1. If the proposed solution is a non-PFAS chemical:
    • It should provide protection against electrochemical corrosion, for example, by increasing the electrical conductivity of oil from 0.01 µS/cm to over 0.2 µS/cm (or by some other mechanism).
    • It should retain at least 50% of its anti-corrosion activity for at least 1,000 h at 120oC (250oF).
    • It should be soluble in non-aqueous, ester-based lubricants.
    • It should cause minimal safety, health, and environmental concerns.
    • Ideally, it can be used at a relatively low effective concentration (i.e., <1% of the oil volume).
    • Ideally, it is globally registered.

To reiterate, the Seeker will not accept a compound that has carbon-fluorine bonds.

    2. If the proposed solution is an alternative to a chemical compound, the general solution still needs to be a lubricant; it cannot require a complete redesign of the system.

Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-3 are invited.

This is a Prize Challenge, which has the following features:

  1. The best solution for this Prize Challenge has the opportunity to win the award of $20,000 if meeting all solution requirements, as solely determined by the Seeker.
  2. Awards will be contingent upon the theoretical evaluation of the proposals by the Seeker, followed by experimental validation of a few, most promising, proposals.
  3. There will be a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution. The total payout will be $20,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $10,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500.
  4. By submitting a proposal, the Solver grants the Seeker a right to use any information included in their proposal.
  5. The Seeker may also issue “Honourable Mention” recognitions for notable submissions that are not selected for monetary awards.

YOUR SUBMISSION

Please login and register your interest, to complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and should include:

  1. Participation type – you will first be asked to inform us how you are participating in this challenge, as a Solver (Individual) or Solver (Organization).
  2. Solution Stage - the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your solution, TRL1-3 ideation stage, TRL4-6 proof of concept stage, TRL7-9 production ready stage.
  3. Problem & Opportunity - highlight the innovation in your approach to the Problem, its point of difference, and the specific advantages/benefits this brings (up to 500 words).
  4. Solution Overview - detail the features of your solution and how they address the Solution Requirements (up to 500 words, there is space to add more, and to add any appropriate supporting data, diagrams, etc).
  5. Experience - Expertise, use cases and skills you or your organization have in relation to your proposed solution. The Seeker may wish to partner at the conclusion of the Challenge; please include a statement indicating your interest in partnering (up to 500 words).
  6. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  7. Timeline, capability, and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time, and cost (up to 500 words).
  8. References - provide links to any publications or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).

Submissions developed solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 16, 2024. 

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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