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At the surface: Research Institute wins new award for work to advance coatings for aerospace systems

Dayton, Ohio – The University of Dayton Research Institute will use a new $60 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to support the development of advanced aerospace coating protection systems.

The five-year award to UDRI’s Nonstructural Materials Division will cover research and development of coatings and technologies designed to prevent corrosion and erosion damage to aerospace structures, which will in turn reduce system maintenance time, cost, and down time and improve safety to personnel and the environment.

Researchers also will work to develop testing that will better predict the lifespan of new protective systems and materials in the field.

“One of the most important ways to help extend the life of an aircraft is to prevent damage from corrosion and erosion,” said Matt Rothgeb, group leader for coatings, corrosion and erosion at the Research Institute and principal investigator for the new program. “We’ve led research, development, testing and evaluation of coatings and corrosion-prevention technologies for nearly 20 years, so we’ve seen first-hand the effects corrosive damage can have on the safety, affordability and availability of aerospace systems across the Air Force and the aerospace community as a whole. Aircraft coatings are critical to mitigating corrosion and erosion of structural components.”

Under the contract, researchers will work toward three main objectives, the first of which is to perform research, development, testing, evaluation, qualification and integration of advanced aerospace coatings and transition these technologies to the Air Force.

The second objective will focus on erosion, including research on erosion phenomena and developing new test methods and equipment to evaluate and qualify erosion-resistant materials. In erosion labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, researchers will test the durability of coatings exposed to water erosion, such as simulated rainfall at varying speeds, and particle erosion, such as sand and dust.

The third objective will focus on the development of accelerated testing and tools designed to better predict how new coatings systems will hold up over time and in service conditions, such as extreme temperatures and humidity.

“Understanding the phenomena of corrosion and erosion is key to developing better protection materials, designs and systems,” Rothgeb said.

Work will be performed in labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as well as at Curran Place in Dayton.

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