Nanotechnology research in Arkansas bears fruit

Arkansas News Bureau

7/10/12

LITTLE ROCK — A lubricant developed in Arkansas and described as a scientific breakthrough will be used in equipment distributed to oil and gas operations around the world, officials in state government and private industry announced today.

From left, Gov. Mike Beebe speaks Tuesday at a news conference at the state Capitol announcing a nanotechnology breakthrough in Arkansas as James Phillips and Ajay P. Malshe of NanoMech of Springdale look on.

Gov. Mike Beebe joined officials with NanoMech, a Springdale nanotechnology company, and Cameron, a Houston-based global provider of products to the oil and gas industry, in a news conference at the state Capitol today. They announced an agreement for Cameron to use the lubricant TriboTuff in some of its valves and other equipment.

A team of engineers with NanoMech and Cameron worked together for the past 18 months to developed TriboTruff, which the companies said reduces friction to near zero for the first time in history and will dramatically extend the performance, durability and reliability of products that use it.

“This commercialization is one of many different products that have resulted from this research,” Beebe said. “This is, I guess, one of the first ones to go to commercialization.”

The development of TriboTuff grew out of research by Dr. Ajay P. Malshe, founder and chief technology officer of NanoMech, and the University of Arkansas, with financial support from the National Science Foundation.

Malshe said part of the motivation for developing the lubricant was to minimize the use of natural resources, which he predicted will be seriously depleted by 2050.

“What we really are aiming for is to deliver more by using less,” he said.

John Bartos, vice president of development and technology for Cameron, which has a plant in Little Rock, said he was proud to be a part of the project.

“If I didn’t seen the results with my own eyes I still wouldn’t believe it today,” he said. “This really is a technological breakthrough.”

Beebe has committed $2.5 million from his quick-action closing fund to NanoMech, a little over $2 million of which remains to be paid. The company also has received a $140,000 economic infrastructure grant, and its investors have received $983,236 in investment tax credits, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.