By Liz White, UT editor
Ypsilanti, Michigan-The Coatings Research Institute (CRI) at Eastern Michigan University, based in Ypsilanti, announced on 12 Dec that it has gained a contract worth $1 million with the US Air Force. The institute will carry out various coatings research projects for the military branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, said a statement from the university.
"The basic objective is we're building on polyurethane resins we previously developed for the Army," said John Texter, professor of polymer and coatings technology, and EMU's project director on the Air Force contract. "It is allowing us to take technology developed on previous earmarks and find a better niche in this Air Force application."
This deal follows previous multimillion-dollar grants for coatings research for the US Army and the Navy, under which CRI successfully developed more environmentally friendly coatings to protect Army trucks and tanks from corrosion.
The CRI hopes to build on that work and develop its polymer coatings further for use on the Air Force's plane fleet.
Initial objectives for the group are to develop a polyurethane primer that is tough, but flexible, and able to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures.
"The government wants coatings to be tough and rubbery from 50 degrees below zero, as experienced in the Arctic, to as hot as it gets in the desert," Texter commented.
Also under the spotlight will be improved fuel-tank coatings so that certain fuel additives, such as ethylene glycol, cannot degrade the coatings.
Another aspect the research will cover is better methods of pretreatment-ones that do not include chromium-to improve corrosion resistance of the Air Force planes, including a fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. "Getting rid of chromium pre-treatments and heavy metals in corrosive inhibitive pigments is the 'holy grail' throughout the Department of Defense," said Ted Provder, director of the CRI, who will be part of the research team.
"There are so many areas that use epoxy primers. If we are able to replace the Air Force epoxy primers with ours, we will be able to take it into industrial and consumer markets, and make a big splash with it," Texter said. "That could lead to licensing technology that faculty and the University have a proprietary interest in."