Comprehensive Evaluation and Transition of Non-Chromated Paint Primers

ESTCP 2016 Project-of-the-Year Award for Weapons Systems and Platforms 

Hexavalent chromium (chromate or Cr+6) is the key component for high‐performance corrosion‐inhibiting primers used across Department of Defense (DoD) weapons systems and platforms. This known carcinogen has been targeted by DoD for reduction since 2009, which resulted in a need to identify, test, validate and implement alternatives and applicable substrate surface preparations. Julia Russell, Brenna Skelley and their team from the Naval Air Warfare Center Patuxent River (NAVAIR) have developed a comprehensive evaluation protocol for development and application of non-chromate primers.

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Aluminum Pigment

Since this project was conceived in 2011, NAVAIR has led a joint service effort, focused on alternative materials performance across the wide-range of corrosive environments to protect both surfaces and interfaces. The team evaluated technically and commercially mature commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products for large scale primer usage. Other lower technology-readiness-level (TRL) non-chromate primer technologies also were investigated for their potential as chromate coating replacements. These coatings were demonstrated on operational military aircraft.

As a result of this effort, DoD has authorized reliable Type-I non-chromate primers on the outer mold line of various aircraft, including:

• P-3C • MQ-8 Fire Scout • F-15 Eagle
• All Navy Trainers • F-16 Fighting Falcon • UH-60 Black Hawk
• E-2C Hawkeye • C-2 Greyhound • H-53 Helicopter

Multiple Government and Industry partners (NASA- Kennedy Space Center, US Coast Guard, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon) have each shown interest toward the adoption and implementation of non-chromate primers, reducing overall Cr+6 use and likely elimination from some platforms and user facilities.

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CH-53 Sea Stallion

This effort demonstrated a method for evaluating both existing and future coatings to characterize the full range of their properties and determine their usefulness across all necessary applications. The outcome will provide the readiness of a given product for implementation or demonstration and validation, or recognize if additional investment is needed for optimization or concept development. Relative capability and maturity ranking will identify both the best state of the art for non‐chromate primers and technology gaps or requirement hurdles for developmental materials. A further benefit will be a final determination of those products that do not offer acceptable performance as a general chromate primer replacement, as well as those products that may only be acceptable for specific or limited applications based on reduced properties.

For this significant work, Ms. Russell and Ms. Skelley and their project team received the 2016 ESTCP Project-of-the-Year Award for Weapons Systems and Platforms for their project titled Comprehensive Evaluation and Transition of Non-Chromated Paint Primers.

Project Team

• Julia Russell • Gina Tollefson
• Brenna Skelley • Sam Benavides
• Paul Robinson • Tony Phillips
• Fred Lafferman • Lesly Ntanyi
• Joni Richards • Bruce Griffin
• Mike Spicer • Glenn Williams

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