The NanoSteel Company: big thinking, small technology

Mar 26, 2013 | 07:00 PM | Gregory DL Morris

Tags  The NanoSteel Company Inc., advanced high-strength steel, David Paratore, Dan Branagan, EnerTech Capital, Scott Ungerer, General Motors, Jon Lauckner GM Ventures LLC

David Paratore knows what it means to be a major player in the transportation sector, having spent much of his early career working on jet engines at Pratt & Whitney Co. Now, as president and chief executive officer of The NanoSteel Company Inc., he is looking to commer cialize close to two decades of laboratory research and application development of paradigm-changing steel that forms its crystals in the nanometer range, particularly for the automotive sector.

While the exact details of the process are still confidential, the essence of the next-generation, cold-formable, advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) is a precise management of the chemical formation of the steel at the nanocrystalline level, brought about by the combination of proprietary material properties. Paratore emphasizes that the ingredients are still the common raw materials of commercial steel, not expensive or exotic additives. The key is using the same ingredients in ratios not previously considered.

“This is no longer just core research,” Paratore said. “Our technology guys have worked very hard in the lab, but they get it. They understand this has got to be a commercial proposition at the end, or why bother doing it at all? Our investors also have the right vision. Nanocrystalline sheet steel is the game-changer for the auto sector.”

The guiding light on NanoSteel’s research team is Dan Branagan, Ph.D., a founder of the Providence, R.I.-based company and its chief technology officer. He has been focused on materials nanotechnology since the early-1990s. The “eureka” moment, he said, came in 1996, when he was a metallurgist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. Some of the early research also was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known best for developing the precursor of the Internet.....

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