While the chrome in your car’s bumper isn’t hazardous to your health, producing that chrome can be.
That’s why a group of UMR researchers, in partnership with Deft Inc. of Irvine, Calif., is helping to develop chrome-free coatings that reduce health risks for workers who apply primer to military aircraft.
The research was recognized in the September issue of R&D Magazine as one of the 100 most technologically significant products of 2006. It is part of the magazine’s annual R&D 100 awards, which have been called “the Oscars of invention” by the Chicago Tribune.
Chrome-based coatings have been used for decades to prevent corrosion of aircraft, but last year the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated new rules to significantly limit the amount of chrome exposure to U.S. workers. Applying chrome-based primer can cause severe respiratory problems and in some cases may lead to lung cancer.
The chrome-free primer, developed by UMR and Deft, is compatible with existing materials and provides the necessary corrosion protection. And, best of all, it’s safe for workers.
Deft licensed the chrome-free inhibitor technology from UMR and further developed it into paint formulations, including a chrome-free primer that is currently being used to coat the Air Force’s entire fleet of F-15s. The primer has also been approved for use on Apache helicopters.
“Without the new technology, the production workers would have been in moon suits from here on out,” says James Stoffer, Curators’ Professor emeritus of chemistry at UMR.
The UMR technology was developed in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Warner-Robbins Air Logistics Center and Boeing Phantom Works in St. Louis. UMR has filed a patent claim on the original chrome-free inhibitor technology. Stoffer and Thomas J. O’Keefe Sr., Curators’ Professor emeritus of metallurgical engineering are principal investigators. Research has also been conducted by Eric Morris, PhD Chem’00, a Deft researcher who began the project as a UMR graduate student, Paul Yu, a research assistant professor at UMR’s Materials Research Center; Scott Hayes, PhD Chem’05; Xuan Lin, who earned a PhD MetE’98; and Richard Albers, a research chemist at Deft.