The Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, SERDP, and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, ESTCP,1 recently released the 2012 “Project of the Year” Award winners. The program recognizes innovations in research and technology developments that provide significant benefits to the Department of Defense, DoD. Specifically, these innovations are helping DoD achieve its mission while improving its environmental performance.

One of the six “Project of the Year” awards goes to Victor K. Champagne, Jr., of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.2 Mr. Champagne and his team3 developed a cold spray process that involves accelerating aluminum alloy particles to high velocities and impacting them on the surface of the magnesium alloy components. In their project, the cold spray process was demonstrated and validated to be a cost-effective, environmentally acceptable technology that could not only provide surface protection, but also offer a method for restoring magnesium components that have been removed from service. The process can be incorporated into manufacturing, and portable systems can be developed for field repair. A cold spray demonstration facility was established at the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center – East in North Carolina (formerly the Naval Air Depot Cherry Point). 
This particular project is noteworthy, as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force have all experienced significant corrosion problems with magnesium alloys that are used to fabricate many different types of aircraft components. The most severe of these problems are associated with large and expensive transmission and gearbox housings for rotorcraft that have to be removed prematurely because of corrosion. Note: Many of the components cannot be reclaimed because there is no existing technology that can restore them adequately for service. The Corpus Christi Army Depot has millions of dollars of used magnesium housings waiting to be reclaimed. Overall, premature failures of these components cost the Department of Defense approximately $100 million per year.

The award-winning project resulted in the implementation of cold spray by Sikorsky Aircraft Company. Both Sikorsky and the Army Program Office for the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter have approved cold spray for use as a repair technology for one UH-60 magnesium component, with other approvals expected soon.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory developed a Military Process Specification, “MIL-STD-3021, Materials Deposition, Cold Spray,” that was selected for the Defense Standardization Program Award in 2008. With future implementation, the cold spray process should provide a significant return on investment through increased in-service life and the ability to reclaim extremely valuable components.

For more details on the cold spray project, please see the complete fact sheet. To view the full list of 2012 SERDP/ESTCP Project of the Year winners, please visit SERDP’s website.  

  1. ESTCP is DoD’s environmental technology demonstration and validation program. The Program was established in 1995 to promote the transfer of innovative technologies that have successfully established proof of concept to field or production use. The goal of the ESTCP program is to identify and demonstrate the most promising innovative and cost-effective technologies and methods that address DoD’s high-priority environmental requirements. To ensure the demonstrated technologies have a real impact, ESTCP collaborates with end-users and regulators throughout the development and execution of each demonstration. Transition challenges are overcome with rigorous and well-documented demonstrations that provide the information needed by all stakeholders for acceptance of the technology.

  2. Supersonic Particle Deposition for Repair of Magnesium Aircraft Components, Victor K. Champagne, Jr., U.S. Army Research Laboratory, as published by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), Nov. 20, 2012.

  3. The project team included: Victor Champagne, Army Research Laboratory; Robert Kestler, Fleet Readiness Center – East; Robert Guillemette, Sikorsky Aircraft; Michael Kane, Army Aviation Missile Command; Timothy J. Eden, Applied Research Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University; Keith Legg, Rowan Technology Group; Darren Gerrard, Defence Science and Technology Organization, Australia; and Stacey Luker, Joint Strike Fighter Program's Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Team.