The deposition process via nickel carbonyl was discovered in the late 19th century by Ludwig Mond in Wales. Today, there are many large commercial plants in the US and Europe that use nickel and iron carbonyl (a similar chemistry to nickel carbonyl) in the manufacture of pellets and powders.
In the 1950s, the attractiveness of the carbonyl deposition process was first recognised by the UK and US nuclear industries where plutonium pellets were encapsulated by nickel in weapons research. This application was naturally secret and not developed commercially.
In the 1960s, in the US, a private company commenced research into its commercial applications using a nickel carbonyl deposition with a somewhat simplified chemical process. A commercial entity, Vaporform products was formed and changed hands several times. Eventually, it became a division of a Detroit based Formative Products, which discontinued its operations in early 1990. Several patents were obtained but there was no significant interest shown commercially. The fact that environmentally safe monitoring and handling processes were not available contributed to this lack of interest.
In the early 1970s, a Canadian company called Spraymold was formed to develop a novel moulding process that required highly specialised tooling. In parallel to their moulding process, the company put together a simple and functional nickel carbonyl deposition facility to manufacture small nickel shells. Mirotech came on the scene in late 1986 with a carbonyl generation and deposition low operating pressure process. The company developed an advanced environment monitoring instrumentation vital for running the NVD process safely. The old Mond process was re-engineered and made commercially viable.
Figure A: With the support and co-operation of the Los Alamos National Laboratories and the University of Washington, Mirotech has developed a highly specialised NVD chamber used in the mass production of ultra pure nickel tubes. The tubes produced are 100in. long, with a wall thickness of 0.015in. and a thickness variation of +/-0.001in.