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Dec. 12, 2006
CONTACT: RonPodell

EMU's Coatings Research Institute receives $1 million Air Force contract to conduct variety of research

YPSILANTI — Following its success with multimillion-dollar grants to provide valuable coatings research for the U.S. Army and the Navy, the Coatings Research Institute (CRI) recently received news that it has secured a $1 million Air Force contract to conduct a variety of coatings research projects for the military branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The CRI received word Dec. 12 that it officially secured the Department of Defense contract. The CRI previously developed coatings for the Army that are more environmentally friendly and protect Army trucks and tanks from corrosion. The CRI hopes to build on that research foundation and take its polymer coatings development further for use on the Air Force’s plane fleet.

“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.”

Primary research objectives will include:

  • Development of 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 said.

  • Develop improved fuel-tank coatings so that certain fuel additives, such as ethylene glycol, cannot degrade the coatings.
  • Develop an improved pre-treatment (that does not include chromium) to improve corrosion resistance of 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 serve on 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.”

In addition to Texter and Provder, the research team includes Jamil Baghdachi, professor of polymers and coatings;  Vijay Mannari, assistant professor of polymers and coatings; and Weidian Shen, professor of physics.

Because Eastern Michigan University is a secondary contractor in the contract (the primary contractor is United Technology Corporation in Dayton, Ohio), the University will  actually receive $840,000 from the 18-month contract. The money will be used to pay the salaries and benefits of research staff during release time; pay stipends and tuition to five graduate assistants and a post-doctoral researcher; allow the purchase of instruments and equipment; pay indirect costs to the University; pay for materials and supplies; and cover travel and publication costs, Texter said.

Instruments to be purchased include a research grade rhenometer, used for studying viscosity in polymers and the curing of resins; and a differential scanning calorimeter, which allows the study of thermal properties of resins.

“If we can make coatings tougher for airplanes, there are hundreds of millions, maybe billions that can be saved,” Texter said. “If we can come up with something that represents an improvement, the Air Force can leverage it in multiple application areas.”




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Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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