Ernest Nagy (who is part of our team) is a Hungarian born Canadian who has spent most of his working life developing new material technologies in the UK. His two main areas of work activity have concerned the development of two manufacturing processes - a new materials coating technology and a new way to make high performance composites.

When Nagy came to live and work in the UK in the late 1960s he set up a laboratory in London where he discovered a new way to coat PTFE (Teflon) onto a wide variety of substrates using a frictional technique. The friction was created by using fast rotating discs made from multiple layers of cotton cloth and cyanoacrylate resin bonded together under high pressure to form a strong composite material. The frayed cotton edges of the discs had powdered Teflon blown into them, which was flung off at high speed onto any surface the discs touched. By adjusting the speed and pressure of the discs in contact with surfaces he was coating Nagy was able to build up layer upon layer, of thin highly adherent films of “non-stick” Teflon. Nagy had achieved what many materials experts believed couldn’t be done by making the non-stick material Teflon stick to itself and many other materials.

Nagy carried out coating experiments with many other powdered materials that were supposed to be “uncoatable” and proved that in fact they were. Challenged by a Cambridge University professor to coat materials with films of diamond - the most difficult material to coat anything with - Nagy succeeded in doing so, to the general amazement of the scientific community.

Among the many materials Nagy’s process can be used for coating with is high silica sand. By coating silica onto steel he can produce strongly adherent pin-hole free films, which are highly corrosion resistant and very cheap. It is worth mentioning that British Steel was advised of the significant cost and performance advantages this coating offered compared to the hot dip galvanizing used for protecting Armco crash rails (the kind used as barriers on motorways), but the suggestion was rejected as being too disruptive. The silica film-coated steel Nagy refers to, with good reason, as “poor man’s stainless steel”.

Among the applications of his coating process could be used for in the construction sector is a potentially highly cost-effective way to protect screw piles against corrosion. Currently, such piles are protected by a variety of methods depending on the required design life and environment in which the piles are installed. These are 1). Electrolytic (including cathodic and sacrificial) systems, 2). Barrier systems; or 3). A combination of electrolytic and barrier systems. All of these methods are significantly more expensive than Nagy’s would be, and much less environmentally friendly.