ITB MANAGES CORROSION STUDIES AT NASA LAUNCH SITES
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is well on its way to making Kennedy Space Center (KSC) a multi-user spaceport of the future. KSC is preparing to process and launch the next generation of rockets and spacecraft in support of NASA’s exploration objectives. To achieve this transformation, program personnel are developing multi-use ground systems while refurbishing and upgrading infrastructure and facilities with sustainability and affordability in mind. Read more here.
PROTECTING NASA’S INFRASTRUCTURE
Through a major contract with NASA Headquarters, ITB is assisting NASA in evaluating technologies to limit environmentally-driven risks to NASA’s mission. Increasingly, NASA and ITB are looking for technologies that both benefit the environment and enhance the resilience of NASA infrastructure. ITB is supporting NASA as it works in close collaboration with other Federal and State authorities to assess the risk it faces in terms of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences.
Recently, NASA and ITB have begun exploring collaborative projects with European partners who maintain important mission operations for NASA. One such effort is a joint evaluation of technologies for renewable energy generation and storage to enhance the resiliency of NASA assets at remote locations, such as the Svalbard Satellite Tracking Facility (SvalSat) in Norway.
SvalSat has over 61 tracking antennae, and is the only commercial ground station able to provide all orbit support to polar orbiting satellites. Operations at this remote station support NASA missions that require earth observation by satellites. Projects like these offer the potential benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing resilience of facilities critical to NASA’s mission.
GSDO PROGRAM CRVI-FREE COATINGS
Along with the NASA Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program and NASA’s Corrosion Technology Laboratory (CTL), ITB is evaluating hexavalent chromium (CrVI)-free coatings for ground support equipment. Data has shown that CrVI-free pretreatments exceed salt spray requirements for two different alloys. When evaluating electrical bonding, the CrVI-free pretreatments performed as well as, and in some cases, better than the CrVI baseline. Follow-on testing will include full coating systems.
WIND POWER STUDY
The U.S. needs to better understand the performance of new types of wind turbines under varying environmental conditions. As part of its support to NASA Headquarters, ITB brought together subject matter experts from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to perform a wind turbine performance assessment at the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC). The assessment runs from pre-construction through to operational turbine assessment by building a living laboratory for distributed wind technology. The Phase I pre-construction data collection will measure and characterize wind resources, develop wind flow modeling, and predict turbine annual energy production. Phase II will collect data on turbine performance (power, availability, and loads) while validating and tuning pre-construction modeling. The project will last for several years to allow capture of seasonal variation of wind resource, solar radiation, and extreme winds.
HEXAVALENT CHROME-FREE COATINGS
Working jointly with the NASA Ground Systems Development (GSDO) Program, NASA Corrosion Technology Laboratory (CTL), NASA Centers, the Department of Defense (DOD), the European Space Agency (ESA), and industry, ITB is evaluating new coatings as replacements for hexavalent chromium (CrVI) coatings for several NASA applications including: aerospace vehicle exteriors, ground support equipment, and electronic enclosures.
NASA Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) is allowing ITB and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to coat components on active P-3 Orion and C-23 Sherpa aircrafts for testing new CrVI-free pretreatment and primer coatings.
Validating new technologies for aerospace applications through flight testing is just as critical for coatings as it is for equipment and processes. Previous projects sometimes used Space Shuttle hardware for testing, but when the Space Shuttle Program was completed, new assets for flight testing were needed. ITB engineers turned this hurdle into an opportunity to test on aircraft owned and operated by NASA. The P-3 Orion, an aircraft in both the WFF and NAVAIR fleet, was chosen. Aircraft managers at WFF also offered several components from a C-23 Sherpa to be included in the study.
During 2013, the WFF P-3 Orion will spend a considerable amount of time in the U.S., Arctic, and Antarctic encountering many temperature extremes and climates. Representative test panels will also be prepared with the same coating systems used on the P-3 Orion and C-23 Sherpa and placed at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Beachside Atmospheric Test Facility for comparison.
ESA & NASA COLLABORATION
The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA made further progress in their collaborative effort to find hexavalent chromium (CrVI) alternatives. Working together, ESA and NASA developed a preliminary ranking system for evaluating the pretreatment test panels. In addition, initial testing was completed in June and yielded unexpected findings.
The initial testing results showed poor performance across all pretreatments, including the controls. The outcome indicated that the processing procedures needed to be adjusted. Based on manufacturer and laboratory recommendations, ITB tested several new processes to improve performance of CrVI and non-CrVI pretreatments. Compared to the results of the initial testing, corrosion resistance improved for panels made of 6061-T6 and 7075-T6 alloys for all pretreatments tested. Panels made from 2024-T3 and 2219 alloys, however, still exhibited poor results in corrosion testing for all pretreatments tested. ITB engineers are continuing to search for appropriate process procedures for 2000-series alloys. Down-selection of the best performers for the next round of testing is also underway.
IN-SITU CHEMICAL OXIDATION PILOT TEST
Typical remediation methods often employ pump-and-treat systems, but newer technologies have become available that can improve their performance. In support of NASA Headquarters, ITB engineers worked with Remediation Project Managers (RPMs) at NASA John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) to review and chart years of historical groundwater monitoring data to evaluate the effectiveness of their existing operational pump-and-treat systems. The charts revealed that the pump-and-treat technology was having little impact and cleanup progress had stalled.
One method to enhance conventional groundwater remediation pump-and-treat systems is to couple them with in situ (in place) treatment schemes that degrade contaminants prior to excavation or removal. Seeking a potential solution, ITB researched in situ technologies and service providers to find a good match for SSC needs. One vendor’s approach featured a safe and slow-reacting oxidizer and a sustainable, self-contained, solar/water pressure-powered automated injection system. The injection process involved the slow release of hydrogen peroxide and a proprietary catalyst into the contaminated aquifer through small-diameter wells. The injection rate of the automated system could also be adjusted to achieve maximum contact with contaminants.
In 2012, ITB facilitated a field demonstration project at SSC to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) product and injection process. The objective of the field test was to determine whether the ISCO technology can augment an existing pump-and-treat system and accelerate the remediation of groundwater contaminated with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), including the chlorinated solvent trichloroethylene (TCE). ITB coordinated the work plan and negotiated the donation of vendor services and materials. SSC approved the demonstration, and work began in March 2012.
The demonstration resulted in a 100% reduction of residual “sorbed” contaminant mass in saturated soil and an approximate 50% reduction of dissolved-phase groundwater concentrations within the treatment zone. RPMs at SSC were pleased with the pilot-scale demonstration results and the process transitioned to full-scale implementation in August 2012. Demonstrating their confidence in the new technology, the test results were featured in SSC’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 5-Year Review Presentation to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
ENERGY/ WATER MANAGEMENT TASK IMPROVES REPORTING
Every year, Energy/Water Management Task engineers from ITB assist NASA Headquarters–Environmental Management Division (HQ–EMD) with the collection of data for annual reporting to the Department of Energy. The energy task monitors not only energy and water consumption and cost data, which is collected several times a year, but also multiple items which are collected once a year, such as conservation projects, facility square footage, and progress in metering all buildings. The annual data was traditionally reported at the end of each fiscal year; however, the energy team observed that some of the data is available months before the end of the fiscal year. The team moved the collection and preliminary analysis of data earlier in the year. Consequently, NASA Centers were able to report energy usage earlier, and HQ–EMD, in-turn, was able to make strategic plans earlier, thereby assisting NASA in meeting federal energy mandates.
ITB engineers also assist HQ–EMD in the tri-annual Environmental and Energy Functional Reviews (EEFR) for each NASA Center. To help streamline the process, engineers worked with the Agency's Energy Manager to create new tools and reports including a summary that is provided to Center Energy and Water Managers within days of their EEFR. Before the Energy/Water Management Task, EEFRs could take six months or longer for reports to be produced. With the implementation of continuous improvement and excellent communication with the Agency's Energy Manager, reports are now completed within a few weeks of the EEFR.
CITRIC ACID PASSIVATION
ITB is working with NASA and DOD partners to determine whether citric acid is a feasible alternative to nitric acid for passivating stainless steel alloys. Stainless steel alloys undergo a process called passivation to increase corrosion resistance. The material most commonly used for passivation is nitric acid, which has a number of environmental, safety and operational issues. Citric acid is employed in some industries as a safer substitute for nitric acid; it is naturally occurring, biodegradable, does not create toxic fumes and is not a hazardous waste. ITB is working with representatives from NASA and the DoD to qualify citric acid as a replacement to nitric acid for their applications.
Based on test results thus far, citric acid is showing comparable performance to nitric acid with no issues associated with adhesion or corrosion resistance. Additional testing is underway, looking at expanded alloys and performance requirements.
RECYCLING SPENT BLAST MEDIA INTO CONCRETE
Historically, one of NASA’s largest waste streams is spent blast media (SBM) generated from various abrasive blasting processes such as corrosion control, inspection procedures, and coating removal, among others. ITB helped NASA evaluate the applicability of reducing the amount of non-hazardous SBM currently disposed of as solid waste, by incorporating it as an alternative aggregate in concrete projects constructed on site at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
For the project, KSC built two small concrete structures incorporating the modified concrete mixture and observed how it performed as compared to traditional concrete. As a result of ITB’s collaborative efforts, KSC has referenced the spent media recycling process in its Center-Wide Sustainability Plan, and recommended editing contract language to require the use of recyclable blast media in future KSC concrete work.
On-site, and laboratory test results, as well as subsequent interviews with installation technicians and KSC personnel indicate the alternative concrete met all stated requirements for the specific locations and was generally the same to handle, work with and apply. The results and recommendations have been shared across the Agency and the project is considered a model for potential future efforts across NASA.
HYDROGEN FUEL CELL MOBILE LIGHTING TOWER
ITB is supporting NASA KSC and Sandia National Laboratories in evaluating the performance of a mobile tower lighting system that uses a hydrogen fuel cell as a replacement for the common diesel-powered generator systems. The tower was demonstrated at the KSC Press Site during the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135. KSC was chosen as a deployment site to evaluate the technology’s performance in a hot, humid and corrosive environment. Advantages of the new technology over conventional diesel include reduced noise, elimination of diesel particulate emissions and increased energy efficiency. The technology can also be used both indoors and outdoors and the high color-rendering index of the plasma lighting aids human visual acuity and can improve employee safety.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
As more countries gain experience and knowledge with renewable energy and high efficiency technologies, more opportunities exist for international collaboration. Under an agreement between NASA and Portugal; ITB and the Centro Para Prevenção da Poluição (C3P) began working together in 2011 to document technologies and best practices for increasing the environmental sustainability of buildings while optimizing economic viability and the comfort and safety of occupants. The result of this collaboration will help advance the causes of ecological and economic efficiency in the U.S. and Portugal.
One project is located in the center of the city of Beja where a new municipal services building is being renovated and equipped with photovoltaic technology. The effort is using innovative construction techniques and solutions for space rehabilitation to create an energetically sustainable and zero carbon footprint building. The work will reduce energy costs, contribute to increasing awareness in local communities of energy efficiency and create an improved workspace
HEXAVALENT CHROME-FREE COATINGS
Although an excellent corrosion preventative, hexavalent chromium is a toxic and carcinogenic substance that has become increasingly regulated. The benefits of replacing hexavalent chromium materials include avoidance of obsolescence risks, reduction in occupational exposure and risk, and a reduction in hazardous waste and associated costs.
The Non-Chrome Coating Systems for Aircraft and Aerospace Applications project aims to qualify complete coating systems that are free of hexavalent chromium for outer mold lines of aircraft and space vehicles. Substrates include typical aluminum alloys as well as NASA-specific lithium-aluminum alloys used on legacy and future space flight hardware. Testing is complete and a draft final report is being prepared.
Due to regulations pertaining to hexavalent chromium, electronics manufacturers are evaluating the use of chrome-free coatings. It is not known, however, whether commercial chrome-free coatings will provide adequate protection in harsh military/aerospace environments. ITB is working with multiple NASA and DoD representatives to begin testing coatings that do not contain hexavalent chromium. A joint test plan has been developed.
As more countries gain experience and knowledge with renewable energy and high efficiency technologies, opportunities exist for collaboration. As one example, NASA ITB and the Centro Para Prevenção da Poluição (C3P) are working together to document technologies and best practices for increasing the environmental sustainability of buildings.
The result of this collaboration will help advance the causes of ecological and economic efficiency in the U.S. and Portugal. Both NASA and C3P will benefit from sharing technical information on new technologies and designs for individual buildings and groups of facilities. Perfecting the design of sustainable buildings on Earth can also help engineers develop sustainable habitats for use in other locations across the solar system.
ITB is also working with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to identify and evaluate less hazardous materials for use in space hardware and operations. Presently, NASA and ESA are collaborating on a plan for testing hexavalent chromium free coatings. To facilitate further collaboration and development of environmental projects, ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center in the Netherlands will be the host site for the 2011 NASA-C3P International Workshop.
COATINGS FOR LAUNCH STRUCTURES
NASA and Air Force space launch facilities and support equipment are coated with materials to protect them from the harsh effects of corrosion and thermal ablation. The most commonly used coatings contain zinc, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or isocyanates. These materials, however, are subject to increasing environmental and safety regulations and concerns. In order to address these compliance needs, more environmentally friendly coatings are being developed.
ITB is teaming with the NASA Corrosion Technology Laboratory, the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Engineering Directorate, AFSPC, Air Force Research Laboratory’s Coatings Technology Integration Office, Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Vandenberg Air Force Base on multiple projects to evaluate new coatings for use at launch support facilities. These efforts are evaluating coatings that can withstand the extreme temperatures and corrosive exhaust gases from rocket launches while providing corrosion protection. All alternatives are being evaluated for environmental impacts.
One technology being evaluated by the Air Force and NASA is gas dynamic spray technology. Commonly called cold spray, the technology can be used on a wide variety of substrates with many different materials available. The technology can result in reduced maintenance and hazardous materials/wastes compared to the current processes.
LEAD-FREE ELECTRONICS DEMO IN SPACE
While there is little doubt that lead-free electronic parts have flown in space before, they have never been subjected to harsh space environments under controlled conditions where post flight failure analysis was later performed. To address the reliability concerns of lead-free soldered joints, a need exists to determine the effect of higher reflow temperatures on printed wiring boards and functional integrated circuits and to gather data in an operational environment.
The Lead-Free Technology Experiment in Space Environment (LTESE) experiment, led by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), is a small active package containing test boards and a data acquisition system. It was launched November 16, 2009, on the Space Shuttle Mission STS-129, and installed on the outside of the International Space Station. The plan is to record the resistance of each circuit and temperature in the box at periodic intervals. The desired time frame for exposure to a space environment is one year.
MSFC has been an active stakeholder in NASA/ITB lead-free electronics projects from the beginning. The LTESE experiment uses components and materials similar to those found on test vehicles used in lead-free electronics projects managed by ITB. In using similar components and materials, data from these projects can be correlated.
Hydrogen is an invaluable alternative for energy sustainability and efficiency. Hydrogen fuel cells operate cleaner, are more efficient, and have better reliability than their petroleum-based counterparts. NASA is evaluating hydrogen fuel cell emergency generators as replacements for existing backup power units.
The development of efficient hydrogen production, storage, and utilization technologies brings with it the need to proactively detect and pinpoint hydrogen leaks for the protection of personnel and equipment. ITB is in the early stages of a project to evaluate hydrogen sensor technologies to accelerate deployment of stationary fuel cell installations at NASA facilities while mitigating associated safety risks.