BOSTON, February 4, 2008 – The US Robins Air Force Base has awarded a contract to Reactive Innovations, LLC (RIL) to develop a portable aircraft corrosion inspection system. The Air Force requires an improved corrosion detector to assess corrosion in multi-layer metallic structures on its aircraft. The detection and characterization of hidden and inaccessible corrosion is an important logistical need for the military. Military airplanes experience severe environmental conditions that exacerbate the corrosion rate. In order for the military to extend the life of such equipment, monitoring and detecting corrosion is crucial to meet these goals. The development of a reliable, rapid, and portable hand-held nondestructive evaluation (NDE) method for detecting corrosion would result in considerable savings to the military. Present technologies have low detection probabilities, high false alarm rates, and low scan rates. Furthermore, these technologies require that significant loss of material exist before reliable detection can be realized. This is undesirable since severe structural damage may result from stress corrosion cracking.
A compact and portable device is needed that can pinpoint corrosion in the early stages of pitting deep within these multi-layer structures. Reactive Innovations, LLC will develop and demonstrate a corrosion detection system based on an electrochemical interrogation method that they have previously shown can be used to characterize surfaces with their hand-held and inexpensive device. With this approach, RIL will apply it to the real-time assessment of corrosion on complex geometric components on aircraft. For this contract, Reactive Innovations will show the interrogation methodology to locate and assess the severity of corrosion on multi-layer aluminum components with varying degrees of corrosion. Algorithms will also be developed to help assess the detector response. An assessment of the scan rate, detector size and mass, and the unit cost will be made that will be applied in a later program to develop an operational hand-held corrosion detection system. The non-destructive evaluation process developed for the Air Force may find widespread commercial use for detecting corrosion on multi-layer metallic surfaces and under painted metal surfaces in the automotive industry, chemical industry, and for the inspection of painted structural supports including bridges.