U.S. Army scientists at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland have developed an improved surface-coating method to reduce air pollution and save $1 billion during the next 15 years.
The Environmental Acquisition and Logistics Sustainment Program of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command was recognized with the Secretary of the Army’s environmental award in weapon system acquisition for developing surface-coating products free of hazardous air pollutants.
The ‘Sustainable Painting Operations for the Total Army’ program developed 45 distinct technologies with more than 1,000 products affected because of the variations in type, class, color and unit of issue. It is expected to eliminate more than 4,000 tons of organic HAPs and other pollutant emissions from Army surface coating. SPOTA will impact about six million gallons per year.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installation, energy and environment, says the team’s work is a prime example of the Army’s environmental efforts.
“There are some wonderful innovative minds here. We have more expectations in the realm of sustainability,” Hammack told the group. “It’s an example for the Army and nation. You have proven your commitment to sustainability.”
Painting, bonding, sealing and de-painting weapons systems emit HAPs and are subject to regulations of the U.S. EPA, including several that would also apply to the Army.
“If all of the standards that were germane to the Army were actually applied, it would have been a nightmare for us to do the record keeping and compliance,” says Erik Hangeland, program director for EALSP. “So the environmental community in the weapon systems world began looking for ways to overcome that obstacle.”
The EPA agreed to develop this year a consolidated standard that would apply across all military operations.
DON'T GET AWAY FROM COMPLIANCE
“It doesn’t make sense to apply numerous standards with different sets of metrics to one organization,” says Hangeland. “The point here was not to get away from compliance, but to have one standard that is rational for the military to comply with.”
EALSP, as part of the Army’s Environmental Quality Technology Program, began looking for ways to improve Army installation environmental postures. SPOTA was born.
SPOTA focuses on eliminating organic HAPs with a secondary focus on reducing VOCs and other hazardous materials. It has five areas of emphasis: paints, sealants and adhesives, solvents, de-painting and rubber-to-metal bonding.
SPOTA employed an evolutionary acquisition approach that fielded materials as soon as they were developed and approved for use. This provided the opportunity to make several revisions for maximum effectiveness.
“Many of these actually work better than the old stuff,” says Patrick Taylor, chemical engineer from Hughes Associates, which supports EALSP. “People hear environmental and they roll their eyes, but these are performance improvements that were just driven by environmental requirements.”