The article below is excerpted from SERDP and ESTCP’s Partners in Environmental Technology Information Bulletin, Summer 2009 Issue.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics has issued a new policy for all DoD systems directed at reducing the usage of hexavalent chromium across the Department. The April 8, 2009 memo, Minimizing the Use of Hexavalent Chromium (Cr6+), calls out SERDP and ESTCP’s ASETSDefense initiative as the primary source of information on environmentally preferable alternatives that maintain performance and are costeffective. Hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, is used on most DoD weapons systems and platforms for its corrosion protection and other properties.
ASETSDefense—Advanced Surface Engineering Technologies for a Sustainable Defense—facilitates the implementation of new, environmentally friendly technologies for surface engineering (coatings and surface treatments) by providing ready access via a database to background information and technical data from research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) efforts supported by DoD organizations and the private sector. ASETSDefense also provides access to information on the status of approvals and implementation of these alternative technologies. Defense organizations can apply this information and assistance to improve weapons system performance and life-cycle costs while reducing or eliminating environmental safety and occupational health (ESOH) impacts from coatings and treatment processes that use chemical compounds containing hexavalent chromium, coatings that contain cadmium, and coatings that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Since their inception more than 14 years ago, SERDP and ESTCP have made substantial investments toward finding suitable replacements for Cr6+ for many DoD applications. An extensive amount of laboratory, component, and field testing has been conducted through numerous research, development, and demonstration projects. Examples of the resulting technologies now being implemented across DoD and the commercial sector include:
In addition to ongoing efforts to develop Cr6+ alternatives, SERDP and ESTCP are funding projects that address other aspects of qualifying alternative coatings, such as developing accelerated corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement test methods that better simulate real-life conditions, environmentally friendly coating removal technologies, and methods for non-destructive inspection to detect corrosion beneath coatings.
For those charged with responding to the DoD policy memo, a central repository of information from these and other efforts is now available through the ASETSDefense Surface Engineering Database. This database is a relational database that provides access to documents and data required for making informed decisions on implementing clean coatings and surface treatments. It includes detailed engineering data, background documents, and information on processes and products that have been validated, authorized, or implemented. Database users can quickly identify which alternatives have been authorized, those that have been implemented, and the data underlying those decisions. The database contains information about alternatives to the following types of coatings: chromate conversion, chromate primers, hard chromium plating, chromic acid anodize, chromate metallic-ceramics, cadmium plating, chromate sealants, and high VOC materials.
Through periodic workshops, ASETSDefense facilitates information exchange leading to a more rapid qualification of alternative surface engineering technologies. These workshops bring together the entire supply chain and depot rework groups from all of the services to share experiences and data that will foster efforts to adopt alternative technologies and help determine the RDT&E still needed to improve technologies for DoD implementation. These workshops provide opportunities for individuals from government, industry, and academia to present key findings and results, encouraging open discussions among participants. ASETSDefense ’09: Sustainable Surface Engineering for Aerospace and Defense is planned for September 1-3, 2009, in Denver. This workshop will cover all ESOH coating issues in new and legacy aircraft, vehicles, and ships although special emphasis will be given to Cr6+ in response to the recent DoD policy memo.
For more information about ASETSDefense, please visit www.asetsdefense.org.