2014 R&D 100 Winner
ORNL's PADSCadmium is widely used and a proven corrosion protection coating on high-strength steels of military and commercial aircraft. However, the metal is both carcinogenic and toxic, and pressure is mounting to use electroplated aluminum coatings instead. Unfortunately, the expense involved with existing electroplating solutions has hindered widespread adoption.

Fortunately, the recent development of a new class of ionic liquid electrolytes has allowed the development of the Portable Aluminum Deposition System (PADS) by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and United Technologies Research Center. The breakthrough liquid formulation was achieved, in part, by the use of hydrophobic neutral ligands, which considerably increased the air stability of the plating electrolytes. Conventional aluminum electrodeposition must be performed in a water- and air-free environment, but PADS reduces the air and water sensitivity issue by either making use of a portable electrolyte chamber or trapping the electrolyte inside a flexible gel membrane. In addition to providing the necessary coating protection, PADS offers flexibility to coat substrate configurations traditionally impossible to coat and can repair corroded surfaces in the open. Finally, aluminum electroplating eliminates toxic air emissions.

Deposition system

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
United Technologies Research Center
Univ. of Mississippi

Development Team

The Portable Aluminum Deposition System (PADS) development team.















The Portable Aluminum Deposition System (PADS) Development Team
Sheng Dai, Principal Developer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Lei Chen, United Technologies Research Center
Li-Hsien Chou, University of Mississippi
Youxing Fan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Chuck Hussey, University of Mississippi
Xiao-Guang Sun, Oak Ridge National Laboratory