The project explores ways to implement environmentally friendly Plasma Electrolytic De-Painting (PEDP) technology for paint removal from military components. The program’s technical objectives are as follows:
- Objective 1: Qualify the process for aluminum- and magnesium-based alloys.
- Objective 2: Develop all process documentation and process orders required for implementation.
- Objective 3: Demonstrate the PEDP process for de-painting United States Air Force (USAF) components at Ogden Air Logistics Complex (OO-ALC), Hill Air Force Base, UT.
During this program the project team will evaluate a novel PEDP technology to remove the paint using an environmentally friendly electrolyte in a very fast process that can meet the required production rate needs. In this process the military component or any part that needs to be de-painted is immersed in an electrolyte and high energy electrical impulse is applied resulting in a plasma discharge. In a few minutes all the paint is removed from the surface without affecting the underlying anodized layer or substrate material. The paint debris can be filtered from the electrolyte which is then re-useable.
Elimination of chemical strippers [methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane or MeCl2)] and Plastic Media Blasting [(PMB), a dry abrasive blasting process, which uses plastic media pellets] will offer DoD these immediate and long-term cost, regulatory, and environmental, health, and safety benefits:
- Avoidance of compliance issues in military repair operations.
- Reduced environmental impact as PEDP uses a common aqueous electrolyte solution and electro-generated plasma.
- Cost savings due to significantly reduced hazardous waste and waste disposal. For example, for de-painting wheels, the OO-ALC currently uses approximately 150 lbs. of plastic media pellets daily – over 36,000 lbs. annually. This would be completely eliminated with implementation of PEDP process.
- Military components life cycle enhancement by removing only paint without damaging or degrading the underlying anodized coating and/or metal surfaces, and thereby improving the throughput of current depainting processes.
- Reduction of occupational and environmental hazards - benefit the warfighter readiness.