Alternatives to Dichromate Sealer in Anodizing Operations

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This paper will describe the requirements for anodizing and sealing operations within Ogden Air Logistics Center (OO-ALC), as well as the sealing technologies that are available and a path forward to demonstrate/validate the most promising alternatives for the specific needs and applications of OO-ALC.

Ogden Air Logistics Center (OO-ALC) is the primary facility within the United States Air Force for maintaining and overhauling aircraft landing gear. Aluminum landing gear components are anodized at OO-ALC to provide enhanced corrosion resistance, paint adhesion, and wear resistance; a sodium dichromate sealing operation usually completes the anodizing process.

During sealing, the pores of the anodized (oxide) layer are hydrated, which fills the pores and provides improved corrosion resistance. However, this sealer contains hexavalent chromium, which is listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of industrial toxic chemicals that are targeted for voluntary reduction or elimination.

The specification that outlines the sodium dichromate sealing process delineates three alternative processes that are approved for use: 1) boiling de-ionized water, 2) cobalt acetate, and 3) nickel acetate. While some research to support the use of these and other sealing processes has been gathered under past efforts, additional work must be conducted to fully integrate non-chromate sealers into OO-ALC’s anodizing operations.

To meet this need, the Air Force Research Laboratory tasked Concurrent Technologies Corporation to identify viable alternatives to the sodium dichromate sealer, conduct testing on these alternatives, and recommend the most promising sealer(s) for implementation based on the test results.

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