ARL Effort Improves Health, Environment, Bottom Line

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November 20, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: November 20 on

A team of researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently addressed a need for safer “wash primers” at Army depots, installations and repair facilities. As a result of their solution, the wash primer replacement team at ARL won the fiscal 2016 Secretary of the Army Award for Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition (small program). The team will represent the Army at the Secretary of Defense competition later this year.

The Army relied on hexavalent chromium compounds–known as Cr(VI)–to protect its ground vehicles, combat service support equipment and aviation/missile systems from corrosion. As a pretreatment, the wash primer was sprayed direct to bare metal to provide protection and promote coating adhesion.

Although toxic and dangerous to the environment, the military specification DOD-P-15328 remained a mainstay pretreatment for mixed metal applications at depots and original equipment manufacturers for decades. The DOD-P-15328 wash primer is called-out in thousands of drawings and contracts mandating its use and making it one of the largest sources of Cr(VI) across the Army. Until now there has been no approved alternative and premature cancellation of the DOD-P-15328 specification would have created a significant technology gap in surface treatments for the Army and DOD.

To address the problem, the team at ARL tackled the development, demonstration, process and implementation phases of Cr(VI)-free products. They collaborated significantly with Army organizations and original equipment manufacturers, who were the main users of the product (e.g., U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command) to determine what type of product would meet performance and sustainment requirements.