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NASA Program Balances Pollution Prevention With Corrosion Protection
Engineers Jeff Herrington, Jerry Curran and Kevin Andrews compare test panels. Inside the Corrosion Technology Lab at the Operations and Checkout Building, workers from NASA's Acquisition Pollution Prevention program are comparing several coating test samples with some new environmentally friendly coatings to gauge their resistance to Kennedy Space Center's corrosive environment.

According to Kevin Andrews, senior principal engineer of the program, several of the new coating samples are performing very well.

Image to right: Engineers John Herrington (left), Jerry Curran and Kevin Andrews compare different test panels inside the Corrosion Technology Lab. Credit: NASA

The program -- also known as "AP2," managed by Kennedy's Applied Technology Directorate -- helps to identify pollution-prevention needs. It fosters joint efforts between NASA centers and other organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force Space Command, and contractors such as United Space Alliance and The Boeing Company, to develop and test environmentally friendly technologies.

The program aims to identify sustainable pollution prevention technologies through joint activities that enhance mission readiness and reduce risk.

According to AP2 manager Christina Brown, the program's approach to pollution-prevention is an effective way to help NASA comply with environmental regulations, improve product performance and reduce costs.

"Partnering to prevent pollution is a cornerstone of NASA's prime mission and the One NASA Initiative," Brown said. "In today's environment, partnering is often the best way to tackle tough problems shared by many."

International Trade Bridge Inc. (ITB) on Merritt Island, Fla., works with NASA's AP2 office to identify ways to reduce or prevent pollution and find common opportunities within several organizations to initiate partnerships for testing and research on new technologies. For example, the new coatings being tested at Kennedy and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama may have applications for the Constellation Program's alloys.

A closer look at two corrosion test panels. Brian Greene, ITB principal senior engineer, said current suppliers of products for the Space Shuttle Program, such as coatings, could change the composition of their materials, making them unusable for Kennedy's needs.

Image to left: A closer look at two panels being tested for their resistance to corrosion. Credit: NASA

Because the space program's requirements are so unique, Greene said it’s important to keep a close eye on industry trends.

When the AP2 office receives a request for a new product or process, ITB seeks alternative technologies and brings the experts on alternative products and processes together with the end users, so they can make decisions based on the most reliable recommendations.

"Reducing environmental risk, sharing or reducing costs, getting input and performance requirements from the end user, and exchanging knowledge allows for increased technical information sharing and a better end product," Greene said.

Some eco-friendly products or processes currently being tested at Kennedy or other NASA centers include a portable laser coating removal system for ground support equipment, low-emission surface depainting for structural steel, low-temperature powder coatings, non-chrome coating systems, and a lead-free solder product.

Linda Herridge
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center