Within the framework of the NCCR MICS, the transfer projects for economic stimulus launched in November 2012 by the NSF, the University of Geneva and Sécheron SA work on the development of novel environmentally friendly materials for high-power contact applications.
The project “Novel nanocomposite materials with low ecological impact for high-current contact applications”, led by Enrico Giannini, MaNEP Network member at the DPMC of the University of Geneva, in collaboration with the industrial partner Sécheron SA, Meyrin (GE), worldwide leading supplier of safety components and systems for the railway industry, has successfully achieved the second stage.
During the first year, the systematic investigation of the physical properties of selected composite materials (Ag/CdO, Ag/ZnO, Ag/SnO2, Ag/C, Ag/CW, Ag/CWC and Ag/Ni) and the correlation to their performance under actual operating conditions, has allowed understanding the reasons of the good suitability of the currently used, and unsafe, Ag/CdO. The criteria that must be fulfilled by other materials for replacing it have been established. Ag/C and Ag/SnO2 alloys, with high electrical and thermal conductivity, revealed remarkably good behavior during high-current switching operation tests. The project goes on aiming at processing the best composite material for replacing Ag/CdO in large-scale high-current applications.