Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Preventing Product Buildup on Equipment

Request Number
Due Date
Dec 1, 2016
Program Manager

RFP Custom Information


Pamela Semanik


Licensing, product acquisition, contract research, proof of concept leading to scale-up to manufacturing, joint development, supplier agreement.



Phase 1 – Proof of concept within 12 months

Phase 2 – Full implementation at manufacturing site within 2 years



Phase 1-- Proof of concept funding as appropriate

Phase 2 – Funding as necessary, depending on solution.




Phone: +1-216-283-3901


RFP was closed on

RFP Title


Preventing Product Buildup on Equipment
RFP Description
NineSigma, representing a leading manufacturer of coated fertilizer products, invites proposals for technologies that can prevent or reduce the buildup of polymer-based agglomerated materials on a curved steel surface.

Fertilizers are applied to soils to improve their nutrient quality. Fertilizer substrates such as NPKs tend to move quickly into the soil, producing a rush of nutrients that can overwhelm the soil system. Fertilizer producers often coat their products to better control the release of nutrients into the soil. 


The sponsor company employs a mechanism by which polyurethane is manufactured-and-applied to the fertilizer substrate in-situ (via a reaction of isocyanate and polyol), forming a thin, even coating around the fertilizer granule. This reaction takes place in a heated, rotating steel drum; either batch-wise, or continuously. Unfortunately, the current process results in the buildup of a polymer or polymer-fertilizer agglomerate material onto the metal surfaces in the drum, which creates a hard coating with a thickness of up to 1 inch. The tenacity of the material requires manual removal, which in turn creates a challenging and unpleasant work environment.  


The client is interested in technical approaches that can address the current challenge. Partial solutions are of interest, as well as approaches that may require development. A successful solution to preventing or reducing this material buildup will benefit the client by reducing manufacturing down time, reducing waste, and minimizing difficult work conditions.

Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan 
Phase 1 – Proof of concept

  • Sponsor company has extensive internal and external capabilities to evaluate ideas, including lab-scale and pilot-scale coating drums. Sponsor company is willing to fabricate or purchase unique equipment if an idea looks strong enough
  • Sponsor company also has advanced analytical capabilities, including but not limited to; NMR, GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-TOF, XRD, XAFS, FTIR, pyrolysis-IR and various surface characterization techniques
  • Phase 1 testing will likely take 6-12 months

Phase 2 – Commercial development 

  • If one or more concepts look successful in early testing, sponsor company will trial them in pilot-scale and/or full-scale manufacturing.
  • Phase 2 testing will likely take 3-6 months.

Criteria for Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 

  • Successful Phase 1 ideas will be evaluated against one or more of the following criteria:
    • Significant, reproducible reduction in polymer and/or polymer/fertilizer buildup when compared to lab-scale, control experiments. Target is > 50% buildup reduction per batch
    • Significantly improved ease-of-removal of any buildup that forms i.e. reduced adhesion to internal metal surfaces in a lab-scale drum
  • Ideas will also be evaluated for:
    • Impact to existing product performance,
    • Cost, including likely capital requirements
    • Environmental, health and safety impact

To assist interested solution providers, an FAQ document has been provided.


Key Success Criteria

The successful technology will:

  • Prevent or reduce the buildup of polymeric fertilizer agglomerate material onto the surface of the coating drum
  • Allow for reduction in manufacturing downtime due to reduced drum efficiency and cleaning
  • Not contribute significantly to the waste produced by the buildup material on the drum surface
  • Ideally, use the same manufacturing assets currently used for this process, although the sponsor company is open to discussion about solutions which might require different equipment
  • Ideally, have no impact on current product performance, although the sponsor company is open to discussion about developing new or replacement products


Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Drum coatings or pre-treatments i.e. permanent, non-sacrificial coatings applied to the drum
  • Different drum alloys that prevent adherence of polymeric materials at elevated temperatures (200oF)
  • Innovative coating materials or formulations, polymer additives and coatings technologies
  • Process improvements, including formulation sequence alterations
  • Release agents, or formulation changes that reduce the adherence of the polymer to the drum metal
  • Novel drum-cleaning methods which reduce or eliminate the need to manually remove buildup


Approaches not of Interest

The RFP sponsor has tested a variety of solutions, but is willing to (re)consider proposed approaches that may improve upon any approach, or that may challenge earlier technology assumptions. 


Items to be Submitted

To respond, please make sure you are registered in NineSights, as it will prompt you to log in. Then, use the Response options at the top or bottom of the page. You may submit supplemental files in addition to your completed response form.


Appropriate responses will use the response form and address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology
  • Features of the proposed approach that will achieve the stated aims
  • Availability of samples and prototypes
  • Data demonstrating achievement of the technical specifications
  • Cost projections
  • Developmental budget estimates
  • Position on IP and the current IP status around the proposed technology
  • Technical maturity of the approach (concept, prototype, ready to commercialize, commercialized)
  • Team description and related experience
  • Desired business relationship with RFP sponsor


Other Request information includes:



Responses from companies (small to large), academic researchers, other research institutes, consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome. For example:

  • You represent a company that has demonstrated a proof of concept for an applicable approach.
  • You have a technology which should provide a solution ready for testing and transfer to commercial use.
  • You have a technology approach which should provide a solution but that requires further research and development to ready it for transfer to commercial use.
  • You represent a university research department that has a bench-scale demonstration.



Expiration Date
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