Some key aspects of maintenance and sustainment of assets are the detection, prevention, and repair of corrosion. CTMA projects are involved in all three of these aspects with 15% of the total CTMA projects devoted to corrosion, whether improving the application process or improving the coating system itself. Projects have spanned a wide range of applications from internal jet engine part coatings for increased durability to coating developments to mitigate spare tire degradation to extend shelf-life and most of the things expected in between like Chemical-Agent Resistant Coating (CARC) improvements.
The reach of the projects goes into all the branches of military services as well. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all have active corrosion control programs and all look to CTMA to help them in their never-ending battle against corrosion.
Corrosion detection especially early detection is paramount to asset protection and maintenance planning. On the vanguard of research, Michigan State University is investigating non-destructive testing methods for the Army at the Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) to find corrosion before it even surfaces. This early detection will help shops and other agencies to better plan maintenance activities, saving time and effort in performing actual maintenance needs rather than maintenance based purely on cycle-time.
Corrosion prevention is a staple of corrosion control programs. Historically, most of the effort went into prevention with the improvement and development of coating systems. This doesn’t really change for the military or the associated CTMA projects where there are projects involving improvements to current coating systems, like high-wear or high-temperature increases typically in well-established CARC systems. High-wear improvements would allow coatings to last longer on hinge points, or slides, or under-coatings for landing craft. High-temperature would have coating systems staying on hot gun barrels or exhaust manifolds longer. There are even projects that involve coatings for battery anodes and/ or cathodes to slow the corrosion process but maintain electrical integrity. Better adhesion characteristics and combining coating system layers round out some of the other projects. If the number of steps in the process, drying time, or the curing time can be reduced, it will have a direct impact on saving maintenance time for crews. Similarly, increasing the durability of coating layers can extend the lifecycle and/or maintenance cycle-time, reducing the need for maintenance and saving time for maintenance crews.
Corrosion repair is another constant in the maintenance department. PPG is working on a thermal spray for powder systems that can be applied in the field. It is safer and easier to control than typical flame-based application systems. This translates to more maintenance activities being performed in the field and thus allowing readiness rates to stay at a higher level.
Corrosion control is paramount to the success of maintenance shops and programs. CTMA is poised to find those most sought-after solutions to the DoD’s maintenance needs through detection, prevention, and repair of corrosion.