Success Story

NanoSteel - Super-Strong Steel Materials

A successful technology transfer from the U.S. government to the private sector, NanoSteel was formed in 2002 as a spin-off company from DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory with a worldwide exclusive license for a new class of nano-structured steel material. This breakthrough resulted from a U.S. government funded R&D project at INL for hard-metal surface coatings for industrial applications in extreme wear environments.

The ever-changing demands of modern technologies drive a need for metal alloys with specific novel properties. Numerous industries — including those supporting automobiles, oil and gas, mining, and steel production — are creating products that require performance capabilities beyond the known boundaries of existing materials.

INL researcher Dr. Daniel Branagan discovered a new class of nanostructured steel material, which has been used to provide solutions addressing needs in a wide range of mainstream industries. After demonstrating the technology at the lab scale, funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) helped scale up the process.

Since beginning, NanoSteel has created progressive generations of iron-based alloys, including foils, powder metals, and sheet steel. Surface technology has been used in extreme-wear and corrosion environments including power generation, mining and aggregates, concrete and cement, and oil and gas.

NanoSteel has quickly become a leader in nanostructured steel materials design and the company’s most recent milestone is production of a third-generation Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) sheet design breakthrough for the automotive industry. These advances will allow automotive engineers and designers to reduce weight through the use of thinner, higher-strength gauges, while maintaining the structural integrity needed for safety.

NanoSteel has won five R&D 100 Awards, and generated more than 200 licenses, patents and patents pending. In 2011, a General Motors subsidiary invested in the company.