Investigation of Diode Lasers for On-Aircraft Decoating Applications

EPA Contract Number: 68D00243
Title: Investigation of Diode Lasers for On-Aircraft Decoating Applications
Investigators: Lancaster, Frederick A.
Small Business: LANCORP Advanced Systems Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through March 1, 2001
Project Amount: $68,769
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The Phase I objective is to investigate and develop the automated capability for closed- cycle depainting of commercial aircraft using semiconductor diode laser technology. This will aid in the aviation maintenance industry's compliance to the Aerospace National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) guidelines set forth in the Clean Air Act by developing and implementing a coating removal technology that removes and recovers only the coating without the aid of other ancillary media or chemicals. Depainting waste is one of the largest waste streams from commercial aircraft maintenance. Current alternative media or chemical stripping technologies have not reduced the amount of waste. LANCORP's unique solution to this problem is to develop and build a mobile closed-loop diode laser stripping system for use on commercial aircraft that will be able to partially or completely remove the coating with a waste reduction of more than 90 percent when compared to current methods. This innovative effort will build on previous testing preformed by LANCORP with diode laser depainting, vacuum recovery, and mobile manipulation technology. This will be accomplished by performing specific aerospace approved testing to gain original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approval for the use of this technology on commercial aerospace structures. Testing has shown that diode lasers have the ability of total and partial stripping of organic coatings from metallic, composite, and fiberglass surfaces, but at a considerably lower cost than other types of lasers and methods. This technology has been shown to be totally recoverable and the only controllable and nondamaging method to decoat advanced composite surfaces. Unlike other alternative methods, closed-loop laser decoating will eliminate subsequent priming and cleaning operations in airline maintenance, thereby decreasing waste and emissions output and decreasing maintenance operations costs.

This Phase I project will aid in determining the proper decoating parameters, the makeup of the waste stream and effluent, and the system energy consumption. To accomplish this, controlled decoating tests on aerospace specification-approved coated test panels, and effluent and waste stream sampling will be performed in a laboratory environment. The results from Phase I and Phase II will conclude with a specific aircraft OEM-approved design for a full-scale mobile system based on LANCORP's current concept for a mobile laser depainting and cleaning system for aircraft fuselages and surfaces. Phase II will start the transitioning of closed-loop laser depainting technology to commercial aircraft maintenance facilities for depainting large and medium aircraft, as well as to the military air maintenance facilities and for companies involved in lead paint and paint removal from large steel structures.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, pollution prevention, coatings, air emissions, lead paint, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Chemistry, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Hazardous Waste, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, Hazardous, Environmental Engineering, aircraft depainting, diode laser technology, aircraft decoating, diode lasers, aircraft decoating , diode laser stripping system

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report