Sometimes you happen to be in the right place at the right time – like Gerhard Pramer, who was at Munich’s Intersolar Europe at the beginning of June (photo on the left). The CEO of Austrian company Calus – Coated Aluminium Surface introduced his new selective coating pure.black just a few days after news of the merger between Alanod and Almeco broke. The exhibiting collector manufacturers listened carefully, given the fact that their new main supplier, Alanod-Almeco, will hold around three-fourth of the European absorber market. Calus has already begun pilot production and will be able to deliver prototypes of selectively coated aluminium sheets by July 2014. The company claims to start mass production in autumn of 2014.
The product was developed in close cooperation with Anatoly I Kulak, Professor of Chemistry at the Academy of Sciences of Minsk, Belarus (photo on the right). According to Calus’s website, Kulak has more than 20 years of experience in the research and development of surface layers for, among others, Russian aerospace sector. Kulak and Pramer share the management of Calus, which was founded in May 2010, as CTO (Kulak) and CEO (Pramer).
Developing an anti-corrosion layer
“We started the research five years ago using an electrothermal, non-evacuated coating process,” Pramer explains. The CEO does not want to share more technical details since patents on the process are still pending. The only thing he confirms is that the black, wet-chemical coating does not include chrome. “Two years ago, we were not satisfied with the corrosion resistance of the product, which is why we intensified our development of a protection layer for the sealing process,” Pramer explains. He emphasises that internal tests have proven pure.black to be more resistant to corrosion near the sea than established selective coating products.
“Our aim was to develop a cost-effective, resistant coating beating the price of existing products when starting mass production next year,” Pramer says. The company will offer the coated 0.5 mm aluminium sheet for the same price as the coated 0.4 mm aluminium sheet is offered today.
From batch process to coil-to-coil production
Calus will have coatings with two different specifications, one with 95 % ±2 absorptivity and 8 % ±2 emissivity and the second one with ≈ 15% emissivity but ultra-high corrosion resistance. Calus is currently producing in batches, although a coil-to-coil machine is planned for 2016, the CEO announces. The next step is an official TASK X test to prove the quality and confirm the specifications of the coating by an independent test institute. All corrosion and performance tests have so far been carried out in-house.