The United Nations recently released a comprehensive climate change report based on research from scientists in 93 countries. It found that while avoiding widespread catastrophe may still be possible, the Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius and that avoiding the Paris Agreement’s (AKA: Paris Climate Accords) benchmark of 1.5 degrees may already be out of reach.
Both the pollution-driving climate change and extreme weather events resulting from it are putting increasing strain on materials, particularly in terms of corrosion. Many materials currently in use were developed before climate change was observed to have the dramatic impact on the environment it does today.
In addition to bringing forward lighter materials and greener production practices, the materials engineering community also must respond to the corrosive effects of a more polluted, warmer planet. The ability to bring solutions to the atmospheric degradation application segment has been a core strength of QuesTek for many years.
How atmospheric degradation impacts materials
Atmospheric degradation can accelerate corrosion, discoloration, erosion, oxidation and stress corrosion cracking. These effects can weaken a material, leading to structural damage or failure and reducing its lifespan and performance. The use of proper materials selection and the design of novel materials can mitigate these effects and improve the durability of materials in harsh environments.
In the context of aerospace applications, pollution can contribute to fatigue and thermal degradation in metals, leading to potential safety risks. Acid rain, saltwater, airborne pollutants and particulate matter are some of the ways in which pollution can accelerate the degradation of metals. Pollution and extreme weather can also contribute to the degradation of protective coatings on metals.
Understanding and mitigating the effects of pollution on metals is crucial for ensuring the safety and durability of aerospace components, as well as for preventing environmental damage caused by corroding metal. QuesTek’s ICMD® digital design platform for materials engineering enables materials scientists to model current and projected environmental stressors on materials.
A Materials by Design® approach to solving atmospheric degradation
QuesTek has a great deal of experience in the atmospheric degradation application segment.
To date, QuesTek has delivered over 20 successful engagements providing atmospheric degradation management and prevention solutions for clients, including the Navy, Air Force, United States Marine Corps, H.C. Starck, Pratt and Whitney, and General Electric. Materials systems addressed by these engagements include molybdenum-based alloys, titanium alloys, and high entropy alloys.
Internal R&D (IR&D) initiatives and engagements have resulted in four patents for QuesTek proprietary materials specifically designed for corrosion management and prevention. The most recent patent awarded to QuesTek in this category is US 11,499,212 B2 – Complex Concentrated Alloys: Materials, Methods, and Techniques for Manufacture. In total, QuesTek holds 23 U.S. patents for advanced alloys with another eight patents pending for additional novel materials.
Even as the world enters uncharted territory amid a changing climate, novel materials are not always needed to solve atmospheric degradation issues. In addition to materials design, QuesTek works in a consulting capacity with OEMs to determine if existing materials may perform better, or if changes in the composition, process, structure, properties or performance that don’t require qualifying a new material could present a solution.
Is your organization experiencing or anticipating atmospheric degradation challenges with one or more of the products you rely on or sell? Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
QuesTek empowers innovators by resolving materials-based challenges. QuesTek is both a pioneer and current market leader in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME). QuesTek’s Materials by Design® technologies enable new products and new thresholds of performance across a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical devices, consumer electronics and luxury goods. QuesTek’s ICMD® software platform launched in 2023 and is the first comprehensive digital materials design technology. QuesTek Innovations is the primary operating subsidiary of QuesTek International LLC and is headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. QuesTek has additional locations in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Solna, Sweden; and Tokyo.