Atmospheric plasma technology @ VITO

Since the start of VITO in 1991 the Plasma Technology Team has built up an internationally renowned expertise in the field of low pressure and atmospheric plasma technology.


Initially, research was focused on the deposition of diamond-like carbon (DLC) and related materials for tribologic applications. In 1997, the know-how and IPR built up in this area was successfully transferred to the industrial joint venture company Bekaert Dymonics.
 

Shortly afterwards in 1998, it was decided to shift the focus from low pressure plasma to the emerging field of low temperature atmospheric plasma for surface engineering.
 

Today VITO is one of the leading research groups in atmospheric plasma with an extensive expertise in dielectric barrier discharge technology for surface and powder treatment as well as for plasma assisted gas conversion
 

Highlights of atmospheric plasma technology

2017

in Q1 of 2017, VITO realised the completion of a major technology transfer to its spin-off APEMCO (Atmospheric Plasma Equipment Manufacturing Company). This marks a new milestone in the valorisation of expertise in atmospheric plasma technology, in which VITO is one of the global authorities. It was the strength of VITO’s expertise and the associated patents that convinced investors of the opportunities to be gained from actively launching it onto the market. VITO remains active in research and development regarding specific industrial applications of atmospheric plasma treatment.

APEMCO was established by Claude Becker, a French researcher and entrepreneur, with support from three Flemish Business Angels. Regis Heyberger is responsible for the day-to-day management.  Together, they are responsible for the industrial implementation of the VITO technology and related services.

In collaboration with VITO’s long-standing partner AFS/Softal, APEMCO will build and support machinery to make the technology ready for true industrial implementation.

2015

H2020 project Xeric was started. Within this project VITOPLASMA will focus on plasma surface modification of membrane materials.

2014

FP7 IP4Plasma project was started and will run for three years. In this project, equipment manufacturers and end-users will work with leading experts in research and technology innovation to overcome the barriers to commercial application of a unique intellectual property right (IPR) portfolio on atmospheric plasma technology. More information: www.ip4plasma.eu

FP7 Newspec project was launched in which carbon fibres (CF) will be developed based on low-cost sustainable polyethylene (PE) precursors. VITO will investigate the possibilities of atmospheric plasma to modify the surface of the carbon fibres. www.newspec.eu

Start of PhD student working within ITN RAPIDThe goal of the Multi-Partner ITN-RAPID (Reactive Atmospheric Plasma processIng - eDucation network) is the realization of an interdisciplinary training involving the disciplines physics, chemistry and engineering. As a result, RAPID will create the platform for a truly European PhD in plasma technology. The scientific goal is the development of non-equilibrium reactive processes in atmospheric pressure plasmas. www.rapid-itn.eu

2013
The prototype roll-to-roll line is extended with a coating station.
VITO co-organizes with the Mikrocentrum the 2nd Plasma Event on May 7th. Focus is on plasma technology as pre-treatment for continuous processes.

 

2012
Two new EC FP7 projects are started: SUCCIPACK (KBBE-call) and NANOPUR (NMP-call) dealing with the functionalizing of bio based food packing materials and nano structured polymeric membranes for water purification respectively. The latter is coordinated by VITO.
 

VITO is technically supporting the Green Coat II project from the VUB-ULB co-financed by Innoveris (Brussels Region) that aims at creating metal surfaces for construction applications with multifunctional properties in an eco-friendly and a time efficient way.

2011

A versatile prototype roll-to-roll line containing different surface treatment systems (Aldyne®, Plasmaline®, PlasmaZone®, Plasmatrix®) and a lamination station becomes operational and is demonstrated at the 1st Plasma Event organized at VITO (together with the Mikrocentrum  from Eindhoven - The Netherlands).

VITO and AFS/SOFTAL present on a joint booth at the ICE in Munich (Germany).

2010
VITO launches its open innovation project with 4 major companies on plasma functionalization of micro and nano powders.

The first Plasmaline® is sold to a German industrial company.

VITO participates in the strategic basic research project NANOFORCE co-financed by the Flemish Strategic Initiative Materials – SIM and investigates the functionalization of fibers in fiber reinforced polymers and the adhesion promoting layers at the interface between metals and polymers. Academic partners are the KULeuven, RUGent, VUB and UA.

VITO is present on the AFS/SOFTAL booth at the K-Messe and shows the PlasmaZone® with conveyor to the public (patent pending).

2009
The first PlasmaSpot® is implemented in an industrial process at the Flemish SME Ninix.

Our industrial partner AFS takes over SOFTAL and together with VITO the Aldyne® systems (nitrogen treatment) are optimised.

2008

VITO and AFS intensify their cooperation by including a sales agreement.

VITO concentrates on process development for its customers. AFS commercializes the atmospheric plasma equipment and takes care of the world wide distribution and after sales services. Together, AFS and VITO can offer complete atmospheric plasma solutions for industrial partners from corona to advanced atmospheric plasma with injection of chemistry.

Several systems are sold for R&D purposes to European research institutes and universities. 

VITO starts its participation in two EC FP7 projects PLASMANICE and N2P (both NMP call) dealing with in-line atmospheric plasma deposition of functional nanocoatings on various fiber- and polymer-based substrates and adhesion improvement between metal-polymer respectively.

Also a four-year strategic basic research project PLASMACAT co-financed by the Flemish IWT is set up to explore the potential of plasma technology for the conversion of green house gases to value-added chemicals. The partial oxidation of methane as well as the splitting of CO2 are selected as model reactions.

2007

VITO participates for the first time at the K-messe in Düsseldorf (Germany). The Plasmaline® is shown to the public.

2005-2006

The German corona supplier AFS GmbH demonstrates to be able to build an industrial power supply according to VITO's specifications and succeeds in extending the frequency range from  to 1 - 100 kHz range. Load matching can be realised for any plasma reactor configuration. Power input up to 60 kW can be achieved at reasonable commercial prices.
AFS GmbH and VITO sign a non-exclusive cooperation agreement.

VITO sets up a collaboration with the Flemish SME IMA (Houthalen) on engineering and construction.

2004

The EC FP6 BIOPLASMA project (coordinated by VITO) is approved and starts to explore the potential of a one-step process to immobilize bio molecules in plasma deposited layers. A patent is submitted. 

2003

VITO starts developing and patenting its own equipment (PlasmaSpot® , PlasmaZone® and PlasmaLine®). The main reason is the lack of commercially available atmospheric plasma equipment with efficient and unlimited chemical injection.

The team also develops an efficient power supply that enables frequency (1 to 15 kHz) and power independent regulation.  VITO starts to search for an industrial partner that could build this power supply and transfer it to an industrial prototype. Many existing power supplies are evaluated and several corona suppliers try to realize this prototype.