The development of new corrosion resistant designs is essential to build, maintain, and sustain the United States Air Force (USAF) fleet well through the twenty-first century. Current aerospace designs which include extensive use of light-weight, high strength aluminum alloys are highly susceptible to the effects of corrosion making this of great importance to the USAF. Therefore, the primary objective of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) topic, awarded to VEXTEC, will be to show the feasibility of advanced modeling for simulating and predicting surface corrosion leading to fatigue damage.
A limiting factor in the current approach for predicting corrosion influenced part life is that corrosion and fatigue failure mechanisms are modeled separately rather than together. Seldom are synergistic damage processes of corrosion and fatigue explicitly modeled in commercially available software applications used by OEMs. However, recent developments in unified fatigue modeling are bringing corrosion and fatigue modeling techniques together by reducing the size of the initial surface flaw in damage tolerance analysis to create a total fatigue life approach that can address the microstructure of the corroded surface.
“We are extremely pleased to be recognized with this highly competitive award from the USAF,” said Dr. Robert Tryon (CTO, Co-Founder of VEXTEC). “Not only is this an important step for the USAF in designing a corrosive resistant fleet of the future, but for VEXTEC as we continue to add modules and functionality to our proprietary Virtual Life Management® (VLM®) software.”
While the primary goal of Phase I is to demonstrate the conceptual design of a corrosion fatigue prediction tool, the overall goal of the SBIR program is to develop mature technologies that can be commercialized for sale in the private sector and/or military markets. To this end, VEXTEC has developed a roadmap for this technology that will take this concept from Phase I demonstration to a valuable asset for the defense and aerospace industry. Ultimately, this technology will enable alloy by design in support of all new reliable and sustainable aircraft designs.