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High Throughput Plasma Enhanced Nano-Manufacturing


Für den Inhalt der Angaben zeichnet die Projektleitung verantwortlich.


Dieses von der Gebert Rüf Stiftung geförderte Projekt wird von folgenden weiteren Projektpartnern mitgetragen: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Swiss Plasma Center - Plasma Processing Laboratory; European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); La Fondation pour l'Innovation Technologique (FIT), Canton Vaud.


  • Projekt-Nr: GRS-080/15 
  • Förderbeitrag: CHF 105'000 
  • Bewilligung: 26.04.2016 
  • Dauer: 06.2016 - 03.2018 
  • Handlungsfeld:  Pilotprojekte, 1998 - 2018



The shipping industry is vital for the world economy, providing the most economical transportation system. Unfortunately, this industry is also one of the largest air polluters in the world. Sulphur and nitrogen oxides (SOx and NOx) emitted in the exhaust gases of ships contribute to acid rain, low-level smog, and global warming. The human health impact of those pollutants includes premature cardiovascular mortality and lung cancer. For all these reasons, it is essential for humanity to implement a sustainable sea transportation system. To address this problem a patent pending technology that could enable us to simultaneously reduce SOx by 99% and NOx by 85% from ship exhausts has been developed.

This method uses arrays of carefully arranged nanostructures that interact with the exhaust gas molecules starting a series of chemical reactions. This technology could be used in existing ships with minimal infrastructure investment, enabling them to continue using their currently used fuel (bunker fuel – Heavy Fuel Oil) while reducing their toxic emissions. However, currently, there are no methods available to fabricate the nanostructure arrays required for an industrial application. The current fabrication techniques are extremely costly, not scalable, and show poor reproducibility.

The lack of a nano-manufacturing technology suitable for an industrial prototype has prevented, so far, the development of this technology into a commercially viable product. Our project addresses this need by leveraging EPFL’s capabilities for micro and nano-fabrication, the Swiss Plasma Center’s leading expertise on plasma processing and CERN’s unique material science technology developed for their particle accelerators. The goal of the project is to develop an economic, controllable and scalable fabrication method by enhancing the processes and techniques developed for the fabrication of solar cells and large format flat screen monitors.

Was ist das Besondere an diesem Projekt?

The project is leveraging the plasma processing capabilities and expertise at the EPFL Swiss Plasma Center and a material science technology developed at CERN; the innovation emerges from the combination of the two technologies. The CERN technology has great potential for industrial scalability and produces extremely high quality substrate material. The material will be processed in a modified plasma-processing reactor using similar techniques used for solar panel cell manufacturing but with enhanced substrate handling capabilities. This combination of technologies will ensure high quality, scalability, and potential industrialization of the fabrication process.

Wirtschaftliches Potential: The main motivation driving this project is an application in the marine air pollution control area, where there is a great need for a cost effective solution. A start-up venture, Daphne Technology, will commercialize this technology, enabling the reduction of toxic emissions. When the project goals are achieved a proof of concept prototype will be developed, towards commercialization. The final goal of this project is to develop the nano-fabrication technology that will enable the fabrication of the nanomaterial, key to implementing such prototype.


A nano-fabrication process has been developed and several samples of nanostructure arrays were fabricated on Silicon and Titanium substrates. To accomplish this an existing commercial Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD) machine was used. To demonstrate that the process can be scaled-up (in size) a home-made machine at the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) was modified with a substrate heater for the fabrication of larger arrays of nanostructures. The maximum size possible currently is 100 mm diameter but the process can be expanded to large format area surfaces. To fabricate the arrays in Titanium substrates a proprietary polishing technology belonging to CERN was tested successfully. In addition, a testing apparatus to characterize the quality of the fabricated nanostructures was implemented and tested.

Thanks to this project the implementation of a proof of concept demonstration of the “scrubber” technology (SOx and NOx reduction) is now possible since we can fabricate the nanostructure arrays in larger areas and metal substrates. The nanostructures are a critical component of this technology. In fact, the proof of concept implementation is currently under development and has been funded by an SNF-CTI BRIDGE Grant awarded in March 2017. This development has been possible thanks to the Gebert Rüf Stiftung grant and the testing apparatus implemented during this project will form the basis of the proof of concept demonstrator.

In addition, a spin-off from EPFL, Daphne Technology, has already been created to commercialize the technology. Daphne technology has been awarded the top 3 Business Idea at the venture 2016 competition. It has also been selected for stage III of the Venture Kick competition and will compete for the last round in January 2017 (for CHF 130’000 equity investment). One large Swiss company, Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, has indicated its interest to partner in the development of a product prototype and we are currently discussing with potential investors and aiming to finalize a seed round by December 2017.



Am Projekt beteiligte Personen

Dr. Juan Mario Michan
Dr. Ivo Furno
Dr. Alan Howling

Letzte Aktualisierung dieser Projektdarstellung  17.12.2021