the last years…until today

Today Zoz is a global player not only in manufacturing and supplying equipment for nanostructured materials but also in nanostructured materials themselves, their applications and parts made by.Originally Zoz GmbH has been a pure ball(drum)mill-manufacturer. These quite simple systems most frequently are supplied in Europe and go into Chemical- Ceramic-, Pharmaceutical- and Food- and in particular into Hard-Metal Industry. Here the technological challenge is slightly higher since product and media to be moved at a proper kinetic level is very heavy.
In chemical-pharmaceutical industry, often ceramic-lined (coated) mills are applied, e. g. for pigments of paints. For processing of hard-phase materials, steel-mills with hard-coated or lined vessels and partly also rubber-coatings are used. The accessories include feeders, vibrating screens, agitator tanks, pump-units etc. that are as all Zoz-products completely developed, designed and manufactured in-house.Since decades, Zoz GmbH specializes in High Kinetic Processing (Mechanical Alloying, High Energy and Reactive Milling). This process is characterized by a high kinetic energy transfer into (powder-) material and in the literature is described properly as a repeated deformation, fracture and welding of powder particles by highly energetic ball collisions. As of the thereby wanted and achieved extremely large and (re-) active surface area, High Kinetic Processing (HKP) most frequently is be performed under complete inert-gas condition, often under vacuum. The key-equipment for this process is the Simoloyer® and may be described as the high kinetic horizontal-rotary-ball-mill even the definition “mill” and “milling” are not really suitable, since grain-size reduction does not go necessarily in parallel with particle size reduction.The major parameter at HKP is the maximum relative velocity of (grinding) media which transfers kinetic energy into the (powder-) material. The CM-Simoloyer® insofar can reach a relative velocity of up to 14 m/s in dry operation mode where common drummills, planetary ball-mills, shaker mills or attritors do not exceed 5 m/s. The accessories include vacuum-airlock-systems, glove-boxes, software etc. which are all and as well manufactured in-house.

The first industrial application of HKP has been introduced in Japan in October 1997 where in this case the processing is better to be described as High Energy Milling (HEM). In fact this is about a production of copper and bronze flakes within 3 minutes processing time in a semi-continuous operation mode.

Early 1998, we started to extensively work in most frequently public funded research programs in partly process engineering and mostly materials science, that directly referred and refer still today to applications in wear-resistance, cutting or tooling, hydrogen storage, radar adsorption, shielding, paint pigments and many others.
Around that time Zoz started a small-scale powder production using the in-house laboratory at a production capability of various and most frequently very special materials in the range up to 100 kg.

After 2000, the HV-Simoloyer® (HV = horizontal/vertical) as a bridge from low-kinetic ball mills to the high kinetic CM-systems has been introduced which is a part of the “enterprise-answer” upon the well known vertical attritor-systems of various brands on the market that operate at low-slightly medium kinetic in vertical configuration.

In fact the HV-Simoloyer® carries a lot of Zoz-philosophy as well:
These devices cover corresponding and already existing applications in the range of low- and medium-kinetic processing and can be operated in vertical mode as common devices as well as in horizontal mode like the high-kinetic devices. Additionally, the grinding chamber can be turned 45 degrees over the vertical position in a cyclic turning mode which is a very interesting plus for the processing of highly sensitive metal-flakes like platinum, silver or tantalum where the problematic of the segregation effect of these materials during common vertical processing (dead zone due to gravity) can better be compensated but without a complete change from vertical to horizontal mode. Technically, the last mentioned option would be definitely preferably, however, the market is not only driven by technical requirements but also by common use and tradition. And exactly this is taken into account by the HV-Simoloyer®.

Since the previous mentioned successfully Cu-flakes production in Japan, Zoz focuses on the application of the high kinetic process to explore and produce ductile metal flakes, this in particular in the range of Pt-, Pd-, Au-, Ag-, Cu-, Fe-, Ti-, Al- and Ni-flakes and powder as well as their (insitu) alloys. Some of the most important applications are paints (pigments) in particular for automotive, anti-corrosion as well as conductive paints and pastes for the electronic industry. With the new HKP-method, the manufacturing of flakes is possible within minutes in comparison to a processing time as of many hours up to several days where a typical flake here is described as a particle with a thickness < 0.5 µm and a cross/aspect-ratio of up to 200.

Early 2003, with the first industrial cement-application, the today second major field of interest in applied materials science and in a super large volume product came in the field of high performance cement by refinement and activation. The goal here is a super fine material (< 5 µm) at high early strength and super rapid setting time (< 10 min) and high degradation/corrosion resistance. Additionally an increased sinter-activity by reduced grain size is expected to effect manufacturing costs by significantly lowering the calcinations temperatures. In 2008 we are proposing therefore a public funded R&D-project (BMBF) in Germany together with the enterprises Runkel Concrete Building, Fuchs Lubritech and Dyckerhoff Cement as well as with the University of Siegen where the start-up is planned for January 2009.

In 2004 we delivered the first high kinetic processing device that operates in auto-batch mode almost as a prototype. This new type of Simoloyer®-configuration is the answer upon the proceeding distribution within the industry and to the corresponding applications therein. Always if a semi-continuous operation cannot be considered due to a too long processing time (> 15 min), the batch operation mode can be automated. The most critical part, the discharging (unloading) is then realized by a carrier-gas system similar as for the semi-continuous mode.

In 2005, at Zoz, the first larger order fort he manufacturing of aluminium-base powder material by HKP was executed. Since that time and again with home-designed Zoz-equipment, we are also able to handle the passivation problematic of this and other high reactive materials. In the same year, for the first time we manufactured tons of a contact-material on customers demand.

Next to this, the years 2002-2005 have been the “reactive processing” years. E. g. on the organic side, a large number of more than a thousand stoichiometric organic solid-state reactions that proceed during HKP with 100% yield, solvent and waste free were identified and scaled up with the Simoloyer®. As an example from tribochemistry with oxides, we submitted in 2003 a patent application for the complete decontamination of PCB, HCH, DDT and dioxins that later has been approved of course.

Until 2006, a number of components of the auto-batch units have been improved, introduced and included. In 2007, the first of these units with automatic charging containers and the MALTOZ®5* software version has been delivered. A still remaining problematic which is represented by the insofar last bought-in part is the carrier-gas turbine res. the poor evacuation ability of the same. At present we rebuild these units replacing seals at moderate satisfaction. For 2008/2009 we intend to introduce the first Zoz-turbine that can be fully evacuated. Also in this schedule we plan to incorporate the auto-batch PLC into the MALTOZ® software which until that time operates in parallel.

In March 2008, the first „OZ-Symposium on Nanostructures“ was held very successfully in Germany and 2008 is the year of the Zoz Centers. Early June, the Zoz-ARCI Center in Hyderabad was officially opened and before the end of the year, the Zoz-Winter Center in Camden NJ and the Zoz-Rits Center in Kusatsu in Japan will follow.

The year 2009 until that time represents the most successful one in the history of Zoz. In spring, one of the so far largest public funded project “Future Cement” has been confirmed by the Federal Ministry and end of summer the first Zoz-made turbine for auto-batch and semi-continuous Simoloyer-plants has been successfully tested. Further after a period of development, also the larger manufacturing devices (as of CM100 scale) could have been modified to the single-drive principle that significantly improves and simplifies operation and in particular cleaning and maintenance. This has been demonstrated with the first two CM100b-Simoloyer that with respect to a general performance increase have been equipped with 110 kW main drives. Both units are delivered in January 2010.

In 2009 for the first time Li-Ion-Battery-Materials as well as processing plants for manufacturing those represent a significant business unit. After working in the frame of a European public funded project (Nanobatt, 2002-2004) and further intensive research, now since early 2009 we daily manufacture nanostructured Li-Mx-Px materials for next generation high performance Lithium-Batteries for the Swiss company HPL that meanwhile has been bought by Dow Chemical. For Prayon in Belgium one of the new CM100b is manufactured for a similar material.

A completely new business field is represented by the so called wood-plastic-composite materials (WPC). In early 2009 we intended to take over and insofar save a local WPC-manufacturing company which later the year turned out to be not realistic. However, by this we have started severe activities in this for us fully new topic and already in October 2009 we have filed a materials- and processing patent with respect to WPC at significantly improved properties, reduced plastic fraction and reduced energy consumption during processing. An initial small-scale parts production is expected for 2010 already.

The innovation of 2009 at the certainly largest public impact is represented by a new nanostructured powder based material that might be revolutionary for the entire transportation world. For this, in early summer we have signed a cooperation contract with Bayer MaterialScience where we transferred the exclusive powder-rights to Bayer and where our main duty and goal is the consolidation / are the parts. The new material is called Zentallium® and represents Aluminium-base materials that are reinforced by a nanoscale incorporation of Carbon-Nanotubes (CNT) by this e. g. achieving the strength of steel. For this, exclusively CNT’s from Bayer (Baytubes®) are utilized that in particular with respect to process-safety turned out to be ideal. We registered Zentallium® for a brand which has been confirmed in July 2009 where of course the „Z“ stands for „Zoz“, the “Zent” guides to CNT and the “-allium” to Aluminium. In February and in May the first fasteners for high-end bicycles have been presented during NanoTech in Tokyo and Houston respectively and at OPowderMet in Las Vegas additionally the first chain-wheels have been on display in June/July. Further exhibitions and conferences in Germany, India and Russia followed and in 2010 we expect the first commercial products to rise on the market.

Finally in 2009 we have done the preparations to after all come up with an own end-product in the field of hydrogen storage. After years of work with important success in supplying a number of processing devices and plants to R&D and to the industry for manufacturing nanostructured H2-solid-state-adsorbing materials, now in 2010 we will present the prototypes A1 and Z1 of our H2Tank2Go-modules (tanks) during the World-Hydrogen Conference & Exhibition in Essen, Germany.