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Improving energy efficiencies for industry

GNS Science believes New Zealand’s energy future needs innovative thinking — not just in alternative clean-tech generation, but in reducing overall demand for energy. Our materials science work is providing solutions for industry, finding efficiencies for a variety of sectors. 

Jerome in materials lab. Photo: Margaret Low

GNS Science's materials experts are helping businesses reduce their overall energy demand. Photo: Margaret Low

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“This advanced materials processing technology has global applications in dairy and other primary industries as it potentially solves a significant pain point for many primary processing companies resulting in enhanced environmental outcomes.”

Brian McMath, Business Development Manager, NZ Product Accelerator

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The dairy industry is a cornerstone of New Zealand’s economy and our expertise in modifying surfaces at the atomic level is helping to streamline processes — and reduce operating costs. 

Interrupting production for regular cleaning of equipment in the dairy processing industry is costly. It requires down-time, leading to lost production, and the cleaning itself takes a significant amount of energy. Our mission is to modify the surface of stainless steel so dairy products don’t stick to it. 

The process involves bonding atoms to the substrate to change the properties of the substrate surface. A key component in the project is our ion implanter. It can implant a wide range of elements into metal surfaces, and we believe ours is the only facility in the world that can implant metal sheets 14cm wide and two metres long in one movement. 

We are taking a phased approach, starting with a pilot project to test adhesion of dairy products at different temperatures. The bonding process produces a surface with minimal risk of gradual wear, and it will have immediate practical benefit for a number of industries. 

This work provides an ideal testing ground to scale up our advanced surface modification technology and open up more materials development for other industrial applications.