Programmable Accelerated Environmental Test System for Aerospace Materials

Period of Performance: 06/17/2014 - 02/21/2015

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Systems and Materials Research Corporation
11525 Stonehollow Drive Suite A120
Austin, TX 78758
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Corrosion is a serious problem affecting the longevity, safety, durability, and affordability of military and commercial aircraft. Despite strict implementation of MIL and ASTM standards for aircraft Outer Mold Line (OML) coatings, corrosion is frequently observed during maintenance partly due to inadequate testing methods representing an in-service environmental exposure; hence, advanced tools are required for more accurate and realistic assessment of these coatings. A programmable accelerated environmental test system that can simulate on-service aircraft exposure of salt-fog, temperature, UV, and harmful gases can provide immense value to the aircraft industry. Systems & Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) proposes to design and build a programmable chamber that can simulate a realistic environmental exposure of aircraft coatings on representative test coupons. The chamber will contain an IR camera system to continuously monitor corrosion without interrupting the test in progress. Such a system should be able to detect even small corrosion pits underneath a coating from its time of origin and allow experts to study its propagation mechanism. If successful, SMRC s system will be able to provide users with an ability to change environmental parameters such as humidity, salt concentration, temperature, UV exposure, and gas concentration to conduct a comprehensive design of experiments and continuously monitor corrosion via an IR camera. The Phase I SBIR effort will focus on developing a scaled down prototype of the chamber showing the feasibility of using an IR system for detecting corrosion underneath a coating during the test. The Phase II program will focus on developing a full-scale prototype with an integrated IR camera and user-friendly software to control the entire system. The outcome of this effort will be a better assessment tool to qualify aircraft coatings for safe, durable, long-term, and sustainable aircraft operation. BENEFIT: An advance environmental chamber will provide a trade study tool to Air Force and other stake holders to evaluate next generation coatings. Additionally, SMRC s chamber will provide in-situ corrosion analysis capability to its users by capturing real-time images to study corrosion growth mechanisms. The chamber will be able to incorporate existing and newly developed mechanical test fixtures and additional testing capability.