Laser technology protects the environment and reduces health risks to workers, while simultaneously cutting costs.
Aircraft are routinely inspected for corrosion of metal components. These inspections require that paints be removed and, after the inspection is complete, the aircraft is subsequently repainted. Coating removal operations at military rework facilities involve chemical and mechanical processes that result in significant emissions of volatile organic compounds, organic and inorganic hazardous air pollutants, and hazardous waste.
Mr. Hoehman and his team demonstrated and validated the Robotic Laser Coating Removal System as an alternative technology to remove coatings from large aircraft components. The system uses an integrated, advanced laser coating removal unit with a particle capture system. “This robotic system has the potential to reduce environmental impacts associated with coating removal, reduce labor and chemical costs, and positively impact production schedules,” said Dr. Anne Andrews, SERDP and ESTCP Deputy Director. Cost savings from Air Force-wide implementation are estimated at $67 million.
For this work, Mr. Hoehman received a Project-of-the-Year award at the annual Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop held December 1-3, 2009, in Washington, D.C.