Rust never sleeps, so neither does University of Windsor physicist Roman Maev.
Dr. Maev, founder of UWindsor’s Institute for Diagnostic Imaging Research (IDIR) and local ultrasonic imaging manufacturer Tessonics Inc., has developed a new way of applying powder coatings that cleans, coats, and works metal in a single operation.
The technology has been used for several years on Enwin equipment — transformers, transformer stations, switching equipment, connectors, pipes, and the welded joints on the Hanna Street water tower — prolonging the life of equipment and causing fewer service disruptions to customers.
The application is now on the market through a new company, unveiled Tuesday, called ONtech Rapid Coatings. A collaboration between Tessonics and Enwin Energy, ONtech will market the technology across North America to utility companies, pipeline repair companies, automotive parts manufacturers and shipbuilding and aerospace industries.
“This demonstrates a great example of how initial collaboration between the University and Windsor and Enwin can be translated to a new, high-tech startup,” Maev said.
The technology was born in 2012 with a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. NSERC gave Enwin and the University of Windsor a further $5.5 million last year to get the technology ready for market.
“The commercialization of research and the creation of start-up companies are a sign of a good, collaborative relationship between academia and industry,” said Douglas Kneale, UWindsor’s interim president. “We are building bridges with the local community…. How exciting it is that this particular collaboration has yielded outcomes that are translatable to the real world.”
The technology uses compressed gas to propel fine metal, ceramic or composite particles at supersonic speeds, forming a dense coating on materials. Unlike other coatings which use heated particles, this spray can be used at low temperatures, reducing environmental impacts. It can be used for field repairs using portable equipment, or at the manufacturing stage, giving new products a longer life.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said Maev’s research has led to the creation of a “strong, new business” for the city.
“Through your scientific and technological expertise and your dedication to partnership, Dr. Maev, you and your team have offered a great gift to our local utility and our city.”
ONTech will be led by John Wladarski, Enwin’s chief operating officer. He said he remembers the day six years ago when Maev pitched the technology to him and proposed using Enwin equipment for testing.
“Thanks to several years of using this technology in the field, we have a wealth of real-world success stories. We’ve repaired transformer stations without de-energizing the station. We’ve restored transformer cabinets, repaired oil leaks and fixed cooling fins… The list goes on.”
Helga Reidel, Enwin’s president and CEO, said the utility will continue to use the technology.
“Expanding the lifespan of our infrastructure helps us reduce costs. We look forward to continuing to enjoy these benefits and savings as a customer of ONtech Rapid Coatings, and to watching this new company as it grows and expands.”