Dana Corporation has announced that it has signed separate development agreements with two leading heat-treating system manufacturers to further develop Dana's AtmoPlas technology.

Under the terms of the agreements, ALD Vacuum Technologies AG and RUBIG GmbH & Co. KG will become licensees of Dana's AtmoPlas microwave atmospheric plasma technology and utilize the technology as they develop next-generation heat-treating equipment.

ALD plans to develop and manufacture carburizing systems utilizing the AtmoPlas technology, and Rubig plans to incorporate Dana's technology into nitriding processes. In turn, Dana plans to utilize this advanced technology in its heat-treating processes. The agreements with both companies could be expanded beyond their initial focus to include other applications in the future.

"These joint-development agreements are exciting next steps as we move toward fully commercializing Dana's AtmoPlas technology," said Chuck Heine, president of technology development for Dana. "ALD and Rubig bring a wealth of heat-treating expertise in the areas of carburization and nitriding, and we look forward to working with them as important equipment-building partners."

Dana's AtmoPlas process generates and sustains plasma at atmospheric pressure - without costly vacuum equipment - to effectively harness microwave energy. Within seconds, temperatures can reach 1,200 degrees Celsius, and there is no known upper temperature limit. This reduces cycle times and can lead to lower energy use. Other key benefits include lower operating and maintenance costs and an overall reduction in capital investment.

Dana has identified many potential uses for its AtmoPlas(TM) technology and has successfully completed the proof-of-concept and technical and commercial analyses for carburization and nitriding. The company is working to commercialize additional applications for AtmoPlas technology, including hardening, sintering, brazing, and annealing. Potential surface-treatment applications include hard-material coatings such as DLC, oxides, and plasma cleaning.

Dana says that recent findings indicate that the AtmoPlas process may 'revolutionise' engine combustion.