Discover how a switch from gas nitriding to ion nitriding turned out to be a win for the environment, Lycoming, manufacturer of half the world’s piston general aviation engines, and its customers.

Nitriding is a process to harden the surface of a metal component. Lycoming uses this process to heat-treat crankshafts in their engines, increasing wear and fatigue resistance. Traditionally, gas nitriding or ammonia nitriding was used.

Lycoming made a capital investment to implement an ion nitriding process for crankshaft surface hardening, enabling Lycoming to significantly reduce environmental impacts from the previous process. It eliminated hazardous waste streams, reduced emissions, and improved product quality and production efficiency.

Lycoming also constructed a more energy-efficient facility within the manufacturing plant for the new equipment. Features include skylight tubes that allow natural light in, motion and light sensors to complement natural light, and reuse of waste heat from the air compressor to heat the new section of the facility in its entirety.

Ion nitriding utilises high voltage electrical energy and small amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen gases to efficiently harden the outer surface of the metal. The process eliminates environmental and safety hazards while improving product quality and production efficiency. 

The company also has an employee Green Team which reviews and leads green projects around the plant, benchmarks against other facilities, and supports environmentally friendly activities to encourage employee participation.