Coercing Corrosion Correction:
ARL leads industry, government conference to push corrosion education, training to push prevention, treatment as priorities.

September 06, 2011

Story Highlights

  • ARL organize this year's DoD Corrosion Conference in Palm Springs, Calif.
  • ARL is premiere coatings and corrosion research and development laboratory.
  • Ralph P. Adler Award for Lifetime Achievement awarded.

It costs more for the U.S. military to fix corrosion problems on aircraft, vehicles and boats than it costs Canada to fund their entire defense operation in 2009. The Army's top materials and manufacturing scientists say these investments could be better spent.

According to Pauline Smith, technical coordinator officer with the Army Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing Division, little funding, by comparison to other research areas, has been made available for corrosion-related research and development in government and industry, yet corrosion education is key to understanding the impact of prevention and mitigation, specifically to materials degradation and the logistics footprint.

That's why she, and a dozen of her colleagues, teamed up to organize this year's DoD Corrosion Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force serve as technical leads every two years on a rotating basis. This year was the U.S. Army's turn, with ARL leading the effort.

It's no mystery why: ARL is the premiere coatings and corrosion research and development laboratory for the U.S. Army providing fundamental scientific understanding of electrochemistry, corrosion, and materials degradation with expertise and capabilities necessary to ensure rapid transition of new materials, pretreatments, and coatings technologies.

ARL provides technical expertise in corrosion resistant materials, corrosion mitigation technologies, and processes to the program managers; research, development and engineering centers; depots; the other services; and original equipment manufacturing contractors.

At this year's event, Ralph Adler, a former ARL employee who shared responsibility organizing the conference with Brian Placzankis, acting team leader of ARL's Corrosion Science and Engineering Team, was honored with the inaugural "Ralph P. Adler Award for Lifetime Achievement."

The banquet was headlined by actor, director and author LeVar Burton, best known for his roles as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: the Next Generation, Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film Ali, and the iconic role of Kunta Kinte in Roots. Henceforth, an award in Adler's name will be awarded every two years at the group's future conferences to military corrosion scientists and engineers whose careers have had the greatest positive impact in the DoD corrosion community.

More than 600 people attended the six-day conference designed to highlight the importance of corrosion awareness and training for officials and technicians at all levels of government and military policy-making.

Corrosion-related education and training is relatively new experts say, and only recently includes degree programs, certification programs, company in-house training, and general education and training.

A few national universities offer courses in corrosion and corrosion control as part of their engineering curriculum, said Smith, who has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the materials science with concentration in coatings development and applications.

"Also of great value was the opportunity to gain relevant information on the latest developments from the DoD Corrosion Forum XXVII, Corrosion Resistant Metallic Materials, Coatings, and Hexavalent Chromate Free Pretreatments and Coating Systems on Ferrous Substrates in support of our ongoing DoD Corrosion and ESCTP funded efforts," she said.

"While corrosion education has improved over the past several years, DoD lags behind in regards to development of advanced technologies to implementing optimal corrosion control practices," said Smith, who served as session chair for Corrosion Inhibitors and Pretreatments II during the conference.

Earlier this year, U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro testified in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing that; DoD spends an estimated $23 billion on corrosion costs each year, addressing problems like rusting, pitting, calcium or other mineral buildup, degradation from exposure to ultraviolet light, mold, mildew, and other organic decay that if left unchecked, can degrade the readiness and safety of equipment and facilities and can result in substantial, sometimes avoidable costs.

The Defense Science Board Task Force estimated in a 2004 report that 30 percent of corrosion costs could be avoided through proper investment in prevention and mitigation of corrosion during design, manufacture, and sustainment.

According to the congressional transcript, increased corrosion prevention and control efforts are needed to adequately address the wide-ranging and expensive effects of corrosion on equipment and infrastructure. However, the DoD did not fund about one-third of acceptable corrosion projects for fiscal years 2005 through 2010.

Team ARL presided over many of the 35 technical sessions and approximately 180 presentations.

Among them were John Escarsega, session chair for Paints and Coatings I; Fred Lafferman, session chair on Corrosion Inhibitors and Pretreatments I; Heidi Maupin, session chair on Corrosion Resistant Metallic Alloys I and a Student Poster Session judge; Dr. Matt Trexler, session chair for Corrosion Resistant Materials; Tyrone Jones, primary author of "Corrosion and Ballistic Analysis of New Military Grade Magnesium Alloys AMX602 and ZAXE1711 for Armor Applications" with co-authors J. Labukas, B. Placzankis, and K. Kondoh for the conference proceedings and orally presented the work in the Corrosion Resistant Metallic Alloys I session; Dr. Joseph Labukas, session Co-chair for Paint and Coating Application Process; Thomas Considine, session Co-chair for Accelerated and Outdoor Exposure Testing II who also presented "Comparison of 105mm Cartridge Coatings", and served as a Student Poster Session judge; and Steve Taulbee executed an integrated Research, Development and Engineering Command technical exhibit featuring demonstrations from ARL Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, and Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Daniel Dunmire, director of the DoD's Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office and the Conference chairman presented both Placzankis and Adler with plaques and DoD Corrosion Office Challenge Coins for their yearlong efforts in organizing the technical program sessions prior to the conference as well as their work during the conference to ensure that it ran smoothly.

The next conference will be held in Hawaii in 2013.


Last Update / Reviewed: September 6, 2011