Introducing Interfacial Bond Failure at the Elastomer-Primer Interface Using Tailored Infrared-Sonication Hybrid Technology

Jaspreet Dhau | Molekule Inc



This project aims at addressing the ubiquitous issue of removal of thick, elastomeric coatings and treatments without damaging the underlying substrate or causing environmental problems while being ergonomically less challenging. In this regard, researchers will develop a large-scale non-chemical, non-media removal process for thick, elastomeric coatings and treatments, used on Department of Defense (DoD) Weapon Systems. The present endeavor will enable material to process level understanding of the tailored Infrared-Sonication hybrid technology for introducing interfacial bond failure between the elastomeric coating and the underlying substrate.

This project is disruptive, related to the state-of-the-art technologies that will help researchers to realize a cost-effective, high performance coating removal technology that is benign to the underlying substrates and treatments. The method ensures removal of the surface coat by applying selected wavelength range of infrared radiation (IR) that will pass through the coatings, get absorbed and introduce vibrations and rotations at the molecular level of the elastomeric coatings and simultaneously impinging the area with an ultrasonication probe. The simultaneous sonication will induce cavitation wear in the surface coating and augment the thermal wear induced by the selective IR radiation treatment. This will allow selective increase in the  temperature of portions of the surface coating to cause degradation at the surface coat-substrate interfacial bond (adhesive failure) while ensuring that the temperature is well below the chemical flash point temperature of the surface coating. The objective of this project is to acquire data demonstrating proof-of-concept of the technology and identify parameters for its successful implementation on an industrial scale.

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Technical Approach

The approach is based on the concept of introducing interfacial bonding failure at the surface coat-substrate interface by selective absorption of IR radiation emitted from an IR source with simultaneous impinging of area using an ultrasonication probe to induce cavitational wear. The degraded interfacial adhesion strength then allows the specialty coating to be completely removed with the application of a pull at a 90-180 degree angle to the substrate-coating interface.

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A variety of coating removal techniques have been developed including laser, microwave, flash-lamps, ice blasting, cryogenic and CO2 blasting, plastic media blasting, wheat starch or similar blasting, and chemical strippers. Many of these, especially the media blasting methods and the chemical stripping, create a waste stream that is much more than just the removed coating. Chemical stripping, in particular, creates a hazardous material waste stream and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and/or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).  

This approach provides a novel and improved method of specialty coating removal that would have the potential to improve both environmental compliance through reduced waste stream and worker health and safety through reduced exposure to hazardous materials and reduced manual effort. Successful demonstration of the concept will allow transition to further development through partnership with a service depot facility to demonstrate applicability on authentic aircraft parts with weathered coatings.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Jaspreet Dhau

Molekule Inc

Phone: 813-451-5081