Project Acronym SCAIL-UP
Starting date November 2013
Duration 36 months
Budget 4.215.147 M€
EC Funding 2.819.851 M€
Call identifier FP7-2013-NMP-ICT-FOF (RTD)
Activity code FOF NMP.2013-10
Manufacturing processes for products made of composites or engineered metallic materials.


Although ionic liquids have been successfully used for electrodepositing aluminium coatings in other R&D projects at the labscale, the scale-up of this process to industrial scale has been never attained, until now. Many barriers have been detected for upscaling IL-based aluminium electrodeposition and overcoming them would be a convenient advantage for obtaining high-tech coatings in a productive and cost-efficient way.

Therefore, SCAIL-UP will seek for overcoming the barriers found in the upscaling of the process for electrodepositing Al from Ionic Liquids by the development of a radically new manufacturing industrial process for the automotive and aeronautic sectors. Thus the SCAIL-UP consortium will work on the design, development and validation of an industrial scale pilot plant that will be able to electroplate Al on current 3D polymeric (ABS) and metal (nickel alloys) industrial parts using Ionic Liquids.

Scail-up Project Goals

The main objective of this project is to develop a radically new manufacturing industrial green process based on the electrodeposition of aluminium from ionic liquids and post-processed the aluminium pure coating to obtain high-tech engineered metallic materials for the automotive and aeronautic sectors.

This new process will replace conventional harmful techniques (Chromium VI electroplating and pack cementation) and will be more energy and material efficient, at shows in specific objectives below. For achieving this goal, all barriers that difficult the industrialization of electrodeposition processes based on ionic liquid formulations (explained at the end of the state of-the-art (pg 21)) will be overcome.

Scail-up Basic objectives

  • Define the working specifications required by ionic liquids for aluminium electrodeposition in both target applications, according to the substrate properties and the coating technical requirements.
  • Select a suitable ionic liquid electrolyte for the deposition of aluminium on nickel alloys and polymeric substrates, trying to find a universal formulation that could be used for platting both substrates.
  • Simulate electrodeposition process at large scale in order to define optimal cell geometry and a good current distribution that lead to uniform and geometrically complex coatings. This cell geometry will be adapted to each target component, analyzing, among other parameters, current distribution, mixing effects.
  • Test new cell geometries and process conditions at lab scale, in order to assess its validity before application in an industrial setting.
  • Optimize existing control technologies for conventional (aqueous) electrolytes to ionic-liquid based electrolytes. Moreover, exploring alternative “in situ” and “ex situ” techniques for controlling process performance and electrolyte quality. New protocols to analyze and control the electrochemical bath based on ionic liquids will also be obtained.
  • Design and build a large-scale pilot plant for the electrodeposition of aluminium with ionic liquid electrolytes, able to coat simultaneously 2000 cm2 and more than one 3D pieces (4-8) with an electrolyte (ionic liquid) working volume of at least 200L.
  • Develop a feasible and reliable procedure for characterizing the Al electrodeposits at industrial scale from a morphological and structural (thickness) point of view.
  • Implement post-treatment processes for providing high-tech properties to aluminium coated substrates, building specific large-scale demonstrators when necessary.
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the developed processes through long-term application of the processes in large series, and deep characterization of the obtained products.
  • Develop new process for recycling big amounts of ionic liquids, in order to reduce the impact of this compound costs.
  • Assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of the new process by means of applying an economical balance and a Life Cycle Analysis.